After President Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney, there was a bit of a collective shrug. After all, the second inauguration couldn’t possibly be as cool as the first. Remember the Million Woman March?

But now it seems like many people of color have come to a sobering realization: This could be the last inauguration of a black president in our lifetime. Add up the speculation and wishful thinking and you get more white male presidents (Republicans and Democrats), a white female president, a Hispanic president and so on and so on. Tack on potential two-termers and it could be a while before another black president is sworn into office — if ever.

All that seems to equal a desire to party like it’s 2009. But at what price and at what hassle?

The Presidential Inaugural Committee, citing the economy, scaled back the Inauguration night ball to two from the 10 attended by the president and the First Lady four years ago. Two! And the public only had the opportunity to score $60 tickets to one of the balls. That was a disaster.

Suffice it to say that a lot of people will not be at the convention center Monday night. So, where are you going? There’s now a long list of parties. Like the inaugural committee, think economically. Is a $500-per-person ticket, tuxedo rental, a new dress, new shoes, a trip to the salon, cab or Uber fare (you better get an open bar for $500) worth it to you to say you were there?

Your best bet? Ask somebody. This is D.C. One of your friends possibly got comped for a ball. Free parties are always better because you’re not thinking about how much you paid as you struggle to get a drink at a packed open bar or wanting to bounce after an hour and a half because you couldn’t fit a pair of flats in your tiny clutch. (By the way, if you received an invitation on actual paper, it’s probably a high-end event and you probably won’t have to battle for bourbon.)

If you’re not in the know, be smart and be quick. Ticket prices dropped temporarily on many of the inaugural balls that were asking what could be a round-trip ticket somewhere far away.

The asking price for general admission tickets to a ball at the Marriott Wardman that is featuring Maze, Maxwell and Musiq Soulchild fell to $200 from $350. Those early-bird tickets sold out though there are now general admission tickets available for $250.

Would-be partiers received a “Breaking News” alert from IMPACT, a young professional group, that “friends” of the group could get discounted $100 tickets to what was advertised as a $500 ball with LaLa Anthony and Terrence J as hosts. Sarah Misailidis, a spokeswoman for IMPACT, said in an e-mail that those promotional tickets are long gone. “The IMPACT discount for the Hip Hop Ball II was a promo to give newer young professionals the opportunity to attend a magnificent ball,” she said. “The tickets sold out in minutes, but IMPACT is hosting other affordable events during Inauguration weekend as well.”

The BET Inaugural ball, which will be at the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, is now opening up to the public. For $300. I love that space. Those are two of my favorite museums. But that price still makes me say ouch. But DJ D-Nice will be on the 1’s and 2’s.

If you absolutely feel like you must get gussied up and out, how about opting for one of the other weekend nights or days? You may be tired after fighting your way onto the Mall anyway to hear Beyonce sing the National Anthem and to watch President Obama on a Jumbotron be sworn in with two Bibles: one that belonged to President Lincoln and another that belonged to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday and Sunday will have lots of options. Here are some choices:

IMPACT is promoting its Sunday jazz brunch for $100.

Head over to the Montserrat House for a mod-inspired party and live music Sunday night. Remaining tickets are $45.

Don’t forget about remaining state ball options and galas and parties that are being thrown by National Pan-Hellenic Council groups and professional organizations. Joi-Marie McKenzie, a creator of The Fab Empire that includes DC Fab, always has the comprehensive scoop. Check out her Insider’s Guide to Inauguration.

McKenzie said the inexpensive options, including parties for no more than $40, can be found in the back of the guide. For instance, here’s a Friday night option that, as of Wednesday evening was free. But hurry up, space will likely fill up fast. “You can spend $20 and have a great night,” she said, adding that Lost Society on U Street and Bar 7 across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center should be on party-goer’s lists. “You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars...You can party on a recession-minded budget.”

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