Heard on the Hill: Inauguration Party Update

Posted January 21, 2009 at 10:17am

At the Creative Coalition’s bash Tuesday night, A-listers worked the red carpet before disappearing into the Harman Center for the Arts, where Sting and Elvis Costello were the musical headliners.

[IMGCAP(1)]Starry guests for the soiree dedicated to arts advocacy included (deep breath) Anne Hathaway, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Modine, Dana Delaney, Kim Raver, Heather Graham, Alfre Woodard, Tony Goldwyn, celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch, Jessica Alba and Scarlett Johansson.

There were reviews of first lady Michelle Obama’s inauguration outfits. “So hot,” Graham said of the white gown Obama wore to the balls, and “loved it!” of the yellow ensemble she sported for the swearing-in ceremony.

Bloch, who’s quite the fashion expert, of course, was swooning: “I think Jackie O. would have been very proud of Michelle O.,” he said. He thought the first lady’s yellow/gold dress and jacket combo was “an homage to the troops in Afghanistan — you know, ‘Tie a yellow ribbon!’”

Hathaway breezed by with some fashion news of her own — the white satin bow bracelet she wore with her red plunging-neckline gown was in honor of gay rights, she said. “But I won’t talk about Rick Warren,” she told us over her shoulder as she entered the party. (Warren was the controversial pastor who gave the invocation at Obama’s swearing-in ceremony earlier that day.)

And many of the celebrities seemed eager to welcome the new administration. Modine told us he did his favorite Washington sightseeing just after the inaugural ceremony. “Seeing that helicopter leave — that was my favorite moment,” he said, referring to when former President George W. Bush departed the Capitol via chopper.

A Surprise Guest at HRC Bash. Sure, plenty of celebs performed at the Human Rights Campaign’s Out for Equality gala on Tuesday night at the Mayflower Hotel — Cyndi Lauper, Rufus Wainwright, Melissa Etheridge — but it was a guest who didn’t sing who got the biggest cheers of the night.

Sir Ian McKellen made a surprise appearance at the big celebration, briefly taking the stage to tell party revelers: “You are the cherry on top of my cake. It’s been a wonderful day for me.”

The openly gay McKellen, who didn’t actually vote for Obama since he’s, um, a British subject, also urged the crowd to continue to press President Barack Obama on issues affecting the LGBT community. “He’s a good man. We know that. You’ve got to keep him to his promises,” McKellen said.

Ross Mathews — better known as Ross the intern from “The Tonight Show” — hosted the party, introducing performers and making jokes throughout the evening.

“Oh, I can see we’ve been drinking. This makes my job so much easier,” Mathews said.

“Did you here it’s a good day? Oh it’s a really good day,” he also said. “I also like any excuse to dress up. I’ll dress up for a car wash, the dentist, anything.”

Others who attended the party included freshman Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), the first openly gay man elected to Congress as a non-incumbent, singers Thelma Houston and Catie Curtis and saxophonist David Koz.

Polis drew laughs from the crowd when he lamented the lack of gay bars in his suburban district. “We could use one — we could use one or two,” he said.

Welcome to D.C., Congressman!

Dancing With the Stars. Meanwhile, at the official balls, despite an all-star lineup of musical performances and more than a few celebrities sprinkled throughout the crowds, the rock stars of the night were President Barack Obama and his wife. Our colleague Keith Koffler traveled with the first couple on the ball circuit and has this report:

At the Commander-in-Chief Ball, held at the National Building Museum, Obama upstaged even rocker Bon Jovi. Guests all but stampeded away from the concert in the hall when the Jersey legend himself broke the news to the crowd that the Obamas were arriving.

But the couple got the most raucous reception of the night at the Youth Ball, where MTV was broadcasting and musical performances by Kanye West, Kid Rock and Fall Out Boy were the entertainment. The president’s response was his most passionate, too, as he told the young partyers — whom he credited with helping energize his campaign — that “the future is in your hands” and that they have the power to make the world “something different.”

Still, he was a little sheepish before the youngsters about his dancing skills — the first couple performed a dance at each ball they visited. “That’s what you call old school,” he said before departing the Youth Ball.

More on that dancing: Michelle Obama’s gown, by young designer Justin Wu, might be due for a trip to the dry cleaners to remove shoe-polish stains before it heads to the Smithsonian museum.

The dress featured a slight train, and the nation’s new leader kept stepping on it during their dances, forcing her to continually pull it up out of her way.

But while he really can’t be blamed for stomping on her longish garment, Obama made it clear that he does not plan to blaze new trails on the dance floor as president. Most of their dances were stiff slow numbers punctuated at each ball by “the move.”

By the reaction of the crowd each time “the move” was executed, one would think that Obama had thrown his wife for a triple toe loop. But it was merely an awkward single twirl by Mrs. Obama as he held her hand aloft.

Keith Koffler contributed to this report.

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