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The Party Circuit: Shorted Out

Bleak times for D.C.'s reception-hopping class. (File photo/bigstockphoto)

Never mind the disappearance of the honeybees or bats. Some dark new wrinkle in the cosmos has disrupted the natural habitat of another creature -- the Washington social butterfly.

In other words: Where are all the cocktail parties?

The past few months have been bleak times for D.C.'s reception-hopping class -- the media types, Hill staffers and socialites who once could count on a free chardonnay and schmooze pretty much any weeknight courtesy of the lobbying/PR/makin'-stuff-happen industries. We haven't seen an ice sculpture in ages!

Is it quiet or what? "Either that or I'm off the lists," said PR exec Ann Walker Marchant, who last night hosted a book party for Matthew Bishop and Michael Green's "Philanthrocapitalism." "It seems very quiet. Maybe everyone blew their energy and budgets around the inaugural?"

"There are definitely fewer events," said David Adler, founder of BizBash, a mag for party-planning pros. "You're seeing smaller events. ... The foie gras factor is gone."

Blame the recession for shrinking PR budgets, or ever-tightening lobbying regs. Even some historic blowouts are scaling back: Vanity Fair and Bloomberg will join forces rather than host separate parties following next month's White House Correspondents' Association dinner, and they're scaling the guest list way back.

Tuesday night, it was an unusually somber occasion that allowed us to get our drink on -- an event marking the 144th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Historian James Swanson punctured some myths about John Wilkes Booth for a general audience at the Newseum, and then the VIPs retired upstairs for cocktails, salmon and sprightly banter about whether the famous by-the-deathbed quote was "now he belongs to the ages" or "now he belongs to the angels." And no, you weren't hallucinating as you left the Dead show -- that was a brass band of Civil War reenactors who led a procession up the street for a vigil outside the home where Lincoln died. (See the video here.)

By The Reliable Source  |  April 16, 2009; 1:04 AM ET
Categories:  Parties  
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