It was the king and his court, lining the stage at the Capital Hilton Hotel Tuesday night, with legions of loyal subjects congregated before them.
"Take a minute to hold hands with the person next to you," Marion Barry said, with an evangelical tone.
"Hold on," the mayor cried.
"Oh yeah," the crowd cried back, arms raised and hands locked to form a multitude of arches.
"In love," Barry continued.
"Yes," said the mass.
"In understanding," the mayor sighed.
"Awrright," said the congregation.
The Continental Ballroom was packed to its 1,500-person capacity. The announcement had been made: Barry had close to 58 percent of the vote, and just before he had descended from his 12th-floor suite there had been a call from none other than Patricia Roberts Harris, conceding defeat and congratulating the victor.
And the crowd cried, "Four more years!"
Then Barry hushed them, and brought from the court behind him the women who had made it all possible, starting with Mattie Cummings. "My mama," Barry said, as the roar of the crowd became deafening. He brought on Effi, his wife, and gave her some roses and the crowd was wild.
"We all hope you feel as proud as we feel," Effi Barry told the audience. "Some people say we've been campaigning for nine months, but we've been campaigning for four years. We all knew Marion Barry was the most competent and the most courageous man this city has ever known."
She started tossing her roses into the crowd, and the house came down.
Then came Effi Barry's mother and then Anita Bonds, Barry's deputy campaign strategist, and then Ann Kinney, "the million-dollar treasurer," as Barry called the keeper of his campaign funds.
"What about Ivanhoe," someone yelled out. And the call became a refrain: "Ivanhoe, Ivanhoe, Ivanhoe."
Ivanhoe Donaldson, Barry's chief strategist, blushing, thanked everybody and disappeared back among the rest of the court.
"I pledge four more years of hard work and intellectual ability -- which I do have," said Barry, and the crowd waxed ecstatic.
"There's an interesting thing about this campaign," Barry said later over a champagne toast, dabbing his forehead like a man who had just run a cross-country mile. "From a political point of view, if we had not been as shrewd and smart as we were, we could have been hurt badly. But our challengers made the serious mistake of attacking me personally. If they had dealt with the government, maybe . . . But it makes me feel real good to know the people didn't go for the false attacks on my character."
If Barry was the king in victory, Harris in defeat was, to her supporters, still the queen. Five blocks away at the Hotel Washington, in a chandeliered ballroom, balloons drifted down onto a sea of tearful faces yelling, "We Want Pat!"
She moved through the crowd of more than 500, hugging volunteers, regal amid the crush and chaos.
On the podium, campaign manager Sharon Pratt Dixon spoke into the microphone: "While I regret the outcome . . . I do not regret for one minute . . . " The rest was lost in a roar of cheers.
Harris, behind her, remained smiling, chin high.
Ruth Brown, a 65-year-old retired social worker, clapped and wept with the rest, applauding a woman she had idolized for 30 years, labored for tirelessly during the campaign, but only spoken to once.
"I would like to have been like her," Brown said. "I followed her career . . . I believe in her because of her spotless life. She would step down and help us."
The victory scene at David A. Clarke's headquarters, from which he ran his successful campaign for the Democratic nomination for City Council chairman, was in a lower key. In Clarke's row house in Mount Pleasant, aides bolted down spaghetti in a dining room stacked with cardboard boxes and filing cabinets.
Even at Clarke's election-night party at the International Inn on Thomas Circle, the atmosphere was distinctly dressed-down-preppy, compared to the silk and glitter of the mayoral candidates' crowds. Young white liberals in khaki slacks and Dave Clarke T-shirts cheered and wolfed down sandwiches.
Clarke was upbeat, grateful and a little cocky. His campaign, he told his workers, didn't have big money and hadn't been endorsed by The Washington Post. It proved, he said, that "the processes of politics belong to the people."
Downtown, Sterling Tucker's headquarters at 616 E St. NW was virtually numb. Caterers had been carrying trays of food and cases of beer, wine and champagne inside for 40 minutes when the first--but apparently decisive--returns showed the former council chairman running third in the race for the Democratic nomination for his old job.
The headquarters, a former furniture store, was almost deserted. "Hey, Sugar," a bearded supporter asked campaign media adviser Deborah Speights, "where's the crowd?"
"I think they heard the returns," she sighed.
By the time the candidate appeared on the scene, the crowd had filled out somewhat, dressed up to party but empty of cheer. Tucker urged his supporters not to lose hope.
"Feel good about what we've accomplished," he said. "We're still united on the issues. We're still going to work for them. In or out of public life, I'll still be there."
At incumbent City Council Chairman Arrington Dixon's headquarters in the 700 block of 11th Street NW, campaign workers, clad in green and white, chatted and munched sandwiches as Dixon's field coordinator, Charles Duncan, explained ruefully that "the handwriting was on the wall." Dixon was losing.
Dixon finally arrived, at 10:45 p.m., his mother on his arm, as the crowd chanted "A.D.! A.D.!" He refused to concede, but acknowledged that, as a man with a degree in economics, "I won't fight the numbers!" He urged his tearful supporters not to lose heart, because "we have delivered for our community."
Outside, Dixon's mother found a sad-looking man in front of the headquarters. She put her arm around his shoulders. "Keep your spirits high, son," she said. "There are better days ahead."