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Posted at 2:51 AM ET, 01/20/2009

Denzel Washington, the Lone Star at Black Tie & Boots

By Anne Kenderdine

201 Waterfront St., Oxon Hill, MD -- 12:30 a.m.: When I first drove in to National Harbor for the Texas State Society's Black Tie and Boots Ball, the SUV right in front of me had a Bush/Cheney '04 bumper sticker in the window. A sign that there'd be a strong showing of Texas support for the outgoing president at this ball? Not so much. Almost everyone I talk with in the crowd of 12,000 -- so big that it takes over four ballrooms in the Gaylord National Resort -- is going to the main event on Tuesday.

Reba White wears her cowboy hat and Lone Star bling. (AP/Luis M. Alvarex)

Frank Lane of Dallas is wearing his "Buddy Holly" black Western shirt, embroidered with guitars in a red Cadillac, and accented with a flashing donkey pin on his collar.

"Texans aren't welcome anywhere else, especially after this administration," he says, "but we came to show that Texans are about more than George Bush." He picked up daughter Amie, 22, from the airport this afternoon and came straight here; she changed into her dress (accessorized with boots and a cowboy hat) in the bathroom. "We're here to dance and we're here to party and we're here to celebrate a hopefully whole new era," she says.

Partiers here slow danced, country line danced and did the Harlem Shuffle. They wore Lone Star pins and Obama pins, bolo ties and ball gowns with broken-in cowboy boots -- "so much more comfortable" than heels, agreed one group of young women.

Lisa John of southern Oklahoma brought a delegation of Chickasaw Nation members, including her 7-year-old daughter, Lauren, to town for the inauguration. "Some in my class haven't been to Washington," Lauren says. "I'm going to bring pictures and videos for show and tell." In the camera so far is a shot of her with performer Neal McCoy.

There were six stages of entertainment -- including Asleep at the Wheel, Tracy Byrd, Kelly Willis and the Wil Gravat Band -- but the biggest celeb here was Denzel Washington, who stopped in to speak about the military, his son and his Texas ties. While swooning women ran for a better view of the two-time Oscar winner, "the men had the bar to themselves," quipped Dave Berkey.

He and wingman Alex Kor scored their ball tickets just last night from a woman they met at the Grace Potter show at Old Ebbitt Grill. Why did they want to come tonight? "We're trying to meet women," Kor says. "We're nice eligible bachelors."

-- Anne

By Anne Kenderdine  | January 20, 2009; 2:51 AM ET
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