With the presidential inauguration just a few weeks away, Washington, D.C., is preparing to shift its focus from politics to parties.
On January 19 and 20, the nation's capital will host dozens of concerts, galas and protest events observing the second inauguration of President George W. Bush. With the city's hotels, clubs, concert venues and sidewalks being taken over for the more than 100 sanctioned and unsanctioned parties for and by both Republicans and Democrats, finding the most raging party is tough. So we're weeding out the duds and giving you a guide to the best parties the city has to offer, whether you lean left, right or tend to slouch somewhere in the middle.
The Black Tie & Boots Ball, Featuring Ted Nugent and Lyle Lovett
The Texas Society of Washington, D.C., has held its annual unofficial inauguration ball since 1981, and this year, it's being touted as the best party in town — and the hardest to score a ticket for. Tickets are sold out (with a 10,000 person capacity) but can be found on Web sites for upwards of $1,000.
Artists slated to perform on the seven stages include Ted Nugent, ZZ Top, Lyle Lovett, Dexter Freebish, Gary P. Nunn and Robert Earl Keen. The president and his wife are expected to attend.
The ball will take place on January 19 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel and is officially nonpartisan. Men attending are asked to wear tuxedos and cowboy boots while the women should arrive in ball gowns (cowboy boots optional).
The Creative Coalition's 2005 Inaugural Gala: The Ball After the Ball, Featuring Macy Gray
The Creative Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan social and political advocacy organization, will host a late-night event on January 20.
While Macy Gray is the only performer who has been announced, other attendees will include Dennis Hopper (an event chair), Joe Pantoliano, Susan Lucci, Tucker Carlson, Matthew Modine, and a smattering of senators and congressional representatives.
The cost of a night with the quirky R&B songstress, a daytime TV diva and a bow-tie clad politico? One ticket will run you $1,000, while "platinum" sponsorship is a mere $50,000.
The Recording Industry Association of America's Bash, Featuring 3 Doors Down
The RIAA gets into the political partying spirit on January 20 at the D.C. waterfront club H2O, with its own inaugural event that will feature Mississippi rockers 3 Doors Down. The event will be sponsored by Washington's DC 101 radio station, which will be giving tickets away to the event as part of an on-air promotion. The night kicks off at 10 p.m.
Noise Against Fascism, Featuring Thurston Moore and Andrew W.K.
If you're looking for a slightly more avant-garde (and anti-Bush) rock event, check out Washington's Black Cat nightclub. On January 20, the venue will host "Noise Against Fascism," featuring performances by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, To Live and Shave in L.A. (with Andrew W.K.), Metalux and more. Twelve bucks will get you in the door and in on the action, which begins at 8 p.m.
Billionaires for Bush: Re-Coronation Inaugural Ball
Billed as "Bigger, Larger, More Unchecked! All the Excess, Twice the Greed!," this left-leaning event is sure to take the anti-Bush reveler's mind off the inauguration.
The January 20 party will feature performances by afro-funk big band Chopteeth and the Billionaires' own cabaret act (see "Isn't It Ironic? Left-Leaning Protest Groups Get Behind Bush") and will run from 8:30 p.m. until "very, very late," according to the Billionaires' Web site. Tickets will run you $10 for the cheap deal to $250 for the VIP catered reception.
Inaugural/Anti-Inaugural Unity Bash
Not sure where you stand? No problem. At Washington's 1223 Nightclub on January 20, for $20 you can lean left, right, back or any other way you choose in one of their four politically oriented sections. Those celebrating the inauguration will gather for games of "pin the tail on the elephant" and a celebratory cake, while lamenters will play pin the tail on the donkey, and chow down on a Kerry "should've won" cake. The "unity corner" will offer Democrat vs. Republican thumb-wrestling, while the "apathetic corner" will provide the opportunity to stand around and express indifference.