What comes to mind about the party scene at this Democratic National Convention is intimacy -- and, of course, those A-list (and B-list) celebrities.

Compared with the parties at the 2000 convention in Los Angeles, the parties in Boston -- some in chichi restaurants, others in the city's historic buildings, many within walking distance of each other -- will be smaller in scale. But they'll be equally star-studded.

Bono, of the rock group U2, serenades Ted Kennedy at Symphony Hall on Tuesday night; tonight at the Avalon nightclub, the ubiquitous get-out-the-young-vote organization Rock the Vote -- sponsoring nearly a dozen events, including the nomination concert at the Roxy nightclub Thursday night -- hosts the "Jumpoff" party, with special guests including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Sharpton, actress Natalie Portman, talk show host (and political dabbler) Jerry Springer, and Jon Stewart all scheduled to show up.

Stewart will tape Comedy Central's "Daily Show," a news parody program, at the Tsai Center at Boston University from Tuesday to Friday; the guest list, the show's spokesman says, "is in a state of uncertainty."

Party planners remain tight-lipped. They don't want "private parties" (and there are a lot of them) to attract crashers. But some sponsors (corporate bigwigs and interest groups) would rather not say just how much is being spent to rub elbows with certain politicos.

None of this matters to Dusty Rhodes. She's busy.

"It is crazy over here, just crazy!" says Rhodes, yelling on her cell phone. Rhodes is president of Conventures, the oldest special-events company, she says, in New England. She stands under a white tent, between Faneuil Hall and the North End, where more than 120 members of the Kennedy clan and some 1,000 guests will pay respects to the late Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (mother to a president and two senators) tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. at the groundbreaking of the Greenway that bears her name.

That party is only one of 18 that Rhodes is planning. There's the official reception at Moakley Courthouse in South Boston for the Massachusetts congressional delegation tomorrow night. That's 1,500 guests. There's the party for the California delegation at the Top of the Hub, 52 stories up the Prudential Tower, with a panoramic view of the city. That's 2,000 guests.

The 2004 Democratic National Convention is bringing more than 30,000 people to Boston. The partying, meeting and politicking begins at dawn and winds down about 2 a.m.

Today's opening night parties, hosted by the Boston 2004 Committee, will be held at historic locations all over town. The Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center, in the city's South End, will host delegations from Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands; the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists in Roxbury will host delegations from South Carolina and Alabama; the Boston Children's Museum will host delegations from the District, Maryland and Delaware; the Hyde Park Library will host delegations from Virginia and West Virginia.

The State House will host the Fannie Lou Hamer Opening Night Reception, with 14 delegates who came with Hamer to the Democratic National Convention in 1964, challenging the all-white Mississippi delegation. That reception is sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus and Lockheed Martin.

The biggest party in town, the Boston 2004 Media Party, was thrown at the new Boston Convention and Exhibition Center last night, drawing 15,000 guests; tonight, the Boston Pops, conducted by Keith Lockhart, provides a free public concert at City Hall Plaza.

But the numbers get more intimate, and exclusive, after that.

Tonight, the Clintons -- who'll be staying in Cambridge, across the Charles River at the Charles Hotel -- will be honored at the State Room, a restaurant on State Street with a view of Boston Harbor, at a reception for about 500 people thrown by longtime friends Jerry and Elaine Schuster. Tomorrow night -- when Al Gore and the Clintons address the convention -- Gore will host a private dinner for friends, supporters and former staff members at a restaurant.

Tuesday morning, Emily's List, the Democratic political action committee, will sponsor a "Women to Women Coffee" at the Sheraton Boston Hotel; the off-the-record breakfast, from 8:30 to 10, is "for women in the news and women of the news." Following that, a luncheon also sponsored by Emily's List honors former Texas governor Ann Richards, Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Later in the evening, GQ, which this month profiled San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom -- "The Next Bill Clinton" is the article's title -- will throw a party at the Federalist Restaurant, to be attended by California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, comedian and author Al Franken, PBS's Jim Lehrer, actor and director Rob Reiner, and Andre 3000 of the hip-hop group Outkast.

On Wednesday, a private luncheon honors Elizabeth Edwards, wife of vice presidential candidate John Edwards. The planners won't reveal the restaurant, but it will be hosted by the Gore and Kerry daughters as well as the Edwardses' 22-year-old daughter, Cate. Simultaneously, a lunch for about 80 people, with Hillary Clinton as the guest of honor, will be held at Radius, a French restaurant in the financial district, courtesy of talk show host and Washington Post columnist Tina Brown.

That night, the Creative Coalition, a group promoting public financing for the arts, holds a $1,000-a-person (or $50,000 for 40 people) fundraiser at Louis Boston, a high-end clothing and furnishing store, home to the Asian-French fusion Restaurant L in the Back Bay neighborhood. Ron Reagan, who addresses the convention Tuesday night, will attend, as will local boy Ben Affleck, Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein and actors Billy Crystal, Alan Cumming, Mandy Patinkin, Alfre Woodard, Janeane Garofalo and Ellen Burstyn. The Red Hot Chili Peppers will perform.

Says Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who is chairing the convention, "This is certainly not like the convention in L.A. This convention is going to be very touchy-feely because everything -- especially the physical location of events -- will be so close together."

Los Angeles, for one, isn't home to fabled Fenway Park. On Wednesday afternoon, the Democratic governors will be allowed to walk out onto that hallowed field and swing at a few balls.

Did you say this week is supposed to be about nominating a presidential ticket? How quaint.

Strike up the band: At the 1948 Democratic convention in Philadelphia, loyalists toot the party's horn. At a fundraising dinner during the 1960 gathering in Los Angeles, Eleanor Roosevelt confers with presidential nominee John F. Kennedy.Jackie Kennedy, widow of the slain president, greets Hubert Humphrey at the 1964 convention in Atlantic City, N.J., as first lady Lady Bird Johnson looks on. At the1984 convention in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge provides a backdrop to a brunch.