City Desk

Human Gridlock at Wilson Building

The situation now brewing this very moment at the John A. Wilson Building isn't making tons of sense. Standing in front of a throng of about 200 people are three burly-looking dudes with credentials. They are keeping the crowd from entering the 51st State Inaugural Ball, that must-go-to event featuring precious ball commodities like Vincent Gray, Marion Barry, Harry Thomas, and many, many other D.C. councilmembers.

What could be the thinking behind keeping the crowd out? Does Gray need to groom his mustache just a touch more before everyone pours in? Does Thomas need to change out of his sweatpants? Are the cheese cubes going too fast? Come on, let the masses into the 51st State!

Update: Chuck Brown just arrived, with an escort provided by the Federal Protective Services. Chuck likes to play to a packed house, too!

Update: The security forces appear to be giving up. They're giving people a "cursory wanding" and letting them pass.

Reporting by Mike DeBonis, writing by Erik Wemple

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    What a fiasco. Some folks had been steered from the other cancelled event at the old post office, and saw only "8PM" notices. NO one was let in until after 10PM. We get in, expecting an inaugural party, and are confronted with chips and dip on tables with no plates, and stations with water and soda. The bands played backed up against the front door with the lobby and stairwell as the only area for the audience- the idea was that the sound would echo through the building up the stairwell. Did you miss that there was NO ALCOHOL at this party? Do you think ANYONE expected to be going to a dry inaugural ball with no chairs to rest your high heels? Pathetic seeing these ladies in mink coats and high heels sitting on marble steps drinking coke out of plastic cups. Our cities impression? A couple of ladies from Atlanta I spoke with called it a "rip off party". A lady from San Francisco said "this would never happen at home" (this was BEFORE she was confronted with only Pepsi and Coke...).

  • dcdenizen

    I was at the ball and I thought it was great. For $51 I did not expect anything but terrific live music, and we got it--four hours of it, including a surprise appearance by Kurtis Blow. If the ladies from Atlanta and S.F. were so desperate for booze and hors d'oeuvres to complete their inauguration experience, they should have paid a few hundred bucks apiece to go to the other events in town, where they'd have probably spent all their time standing in line anyway. I just felt bad that Chuck Brown performed last, close to 2 a.m., when everyone was so tired they were starting to leave.


    Your mentioning "four hours" of terrific live music reminds me that the first band --Trouble Funk -- had sound check problems and didn't start until after 11:30; and that for the first 2 bands, several performers could not be heard. (They did get the sound system tuned OK by the time Rare Essence came on...)

    It is a question of expectations. Some of the other local publications, for example, used the phrase "open bar". This paper got it right, and didn't say that, so I should have paid attention here...

  • Sayitaintso

    I was shocked that this was so poorly executed. The council should be better at managing events than this.

    Who is their communications person? I would think they would do a better job.