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Posted at 2:12 AM ET, 01/21/2009

Surreal Soiree at City Hall

By Julia Beizer

1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW -- 1:36 a.m.: In retrospect, it was probably a good thing I was about an hour late for the 51st State Ball at the John A. Wilson Building tonight. This party is both an unofficial inaugural ball and a go-go show, so of course the band hadn't started yet. People were still checking mics from 11 to 11:45.

"Check-Check-Check," intoned the tambourine player. "Turn it up."

But once the band started playing, people started grooving. Ladies in jewel-toned floor-length gowns and gents in three-piece suits and fedoras mostly bobbed in place in City Hall's cramped corridors. It's the good thing the new president's name is so percussive. The intermittent "O-ba-ma" cheers fit right in with the drums.

Former council staffer Villareal Johnson said many of his council colleagues were in attendance tonight. How does it feel to see go-go in City Hall?

"I'm still processing."

What was the experience down on the Mall like earlier today?

"I'm still processing," he said with a smile. "I think it was just an overwhelming experience to be a part of history."

-- Julia

By Julia Beizer  | January 21, 2009; 2:12 AM ET
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