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Unofficial Inaugural Events Offer Nearly Nude Waiters, Building Renovations

January 13, 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) _ It doesn’t take an invitation from Bill Clinton to toast his inauguration. Dozens of organizations are hosting unofficial celebrations, from the first gay and homeless inaugural balls to a televised MTV extravaganza.

There are balls for animal rights and for the environment, and parties dedicated to a variety of groups, from veterans to American Indians to Italian-Americans appointees of the Clinton administration.

Former ″Saturday Night Live″ star Dennis Miller will host MTV’s 1993 Rock N’ Roll Inaugural Ball, with musical entertainment by Clinton’s brother, Roger Clinton. Other performers at the Washington Convention Center bash Jan. 20 include En Vogue, Don Henley, Boyz II Men and 10,000 Maniacs. Four thousand people were invited to attend, and the dress is creative black tie.

″That means anything from bike shorts and a tuxedo jacket to a ball gown,″ said spokeswoman Carole Robinson. ″There’s room for that special brand of rock and roll dress.″

A few tickets are still available at $250 apiece for the Animal Ball at the Willard Hotel on Jan. 19. But if you’re planning to go, don’t plan on wearing a fur. You won’t get past the front door if you do.

In fact, the dress code is so strict that waiters and waitresses - who will serve only vegetarian food - have been asked to avoid wearing clothes altogether.

They’ll be clad only in aprons - which bear the slogan, ″I’d rather go naked than wear fur.″

The ball is organized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and guests include k.d. lang, Kathleen Turner, Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.

The American Indian Ball will feature the music of Average Savages band and a menu of traditional American Indian specialties including buffalo, salmon and turkey. More than 500 tribal delegations are expected to attend the black- tie event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Arlington, Va., on Jan. 20.

But black-tie won’t be the norm at the inaugural ball held by the National Association of Chiefs of Police at the Washington Hilton on Jan. 19. Police uniforms are the suggested attire.

A New York comedy trio, Funny Gay Males, will provide some of the entertainment for the Triangle Inaugural Ball, the first inaugural ball for the gay and lesbian community. About 1,500 people paid $100 each to attend the Jan. 20 event at the National Press Club, which will raise money for various gay and lesbian organizations.

Several hundred homeless people have been invited to attend ″The Other Inaugural Ball″ at the Hubert Humphrey Building, headquarters of the Department of Health and Human Services in southwest Washington, on Jan. 19, organized by the Center for Creative Non-Violence.

Area businesses are donating food, linen tablecloths and even chef’s jackets for the ball, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds will provide free musical entertainment. The invitations call for ″church clothes.″

″All of the balls are completely out of range price-wise for even middle class people - forget homeless people,″ said organizer Carol Fennelly. ″We wanted to do something that was more than a token gesture.″

A group called Public Allies is sponsoring one of the more outward-looking unofficial events, a daylong renovation of an abandoned theater in northeast Washington. The organization helps train and place young leaders around the country, and the theater eventually will be used as a youth think tank.

″What we’re really talking about is a center where young people can come together with ideas. There’s such a need for that around the country,″ said Public Allies founder Vanessa Kirsch, 27.

The conservation of resources is a theme of the Environmental Inaugural Ball, which sold out its 2,000 tickets last month. Invitations - which cost $125 per person - were printed on recycled paper. And each guest will receive a canvas bag of environmentally acceptable party favors, from recycled-fiber tissues to organic chocolate bars.

Smoking won’t be allowed at the event, and leftovers will be distributed to the homeless.

But don’t expect the ball guests to make a lot of serious speeches, said Dale Didion, executive director of Renew America, which is planning the event at an office and restaurant complex along the Potomac River.

″Everything these environmental people have gone to for the past eon has ended with planting a tree or sewing a blanket,″ he said. ″This time, we’re just celebrating, relaxing and having fun.″

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