In Washington, musician Moby drives a different kind of inaugural party

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 20, 2013 5:52 PM
In Washington, musician Moby drives a different kind of inaugural party

By Alina Selyukh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - All across Washington this weekend, the wealthy, the politically connected and the curious are putting on tuxedos and ball gowns and crowding into fancy galas to celebrate President Barack Obama's second inauguration.

This was not one of those parties.

At an inaugural celebration at Washington's U Street Music Hall late Saturday and early Sunday, a man in a black blazer accompanied a young woman who was in a midriff-baring, sequin-covered bra. Another couple danced while wearing matching track suits.

Many partiers were in T-shirts; some brought the glitter - on sneakers, party dresses and more.

It was called the Blisspop Inauguration Party, and the star attraction was Moby, the electronic music legend.

The crowd was as diverse as any in town this weekend: several generations of self-described Democrats, Republicans and apolitical types - including many who didn't realize the event was related to Obama's inauguration.

"I came here for Moby" and "I just found out this was an inauguration celebration yesterday," were common comments by attendees of the party, which was thrown by a group of local disc jockeys.

The U Street Music Hall is a venue that symbolizes Washington's rejuvenation in an area that was scarred by rioting in the U Street corridor nearly 45 years ago, after the assassination of civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr and is now Washington's party central.

Inside the music hall, mirrored disco balls spun to music by local DJ and the venue's owner Will Eastman, bartenders with red flowers in their hair poured beer and mixed cocktails and the sold-out crowd warmed up their dancing feet for Moby's appearance. And in typical D.C. style, most everyone was willing to talk about politics and Obama's second four-year term.

"I think it'll be same old, same old for the next two years," said Mike Mizerak, 26, a psychology student from Virginia who came wearing a pirate hat and said he did not vote for Obama in the November 6 election.

"He needs to get more aggressive," said Lauren Reliford, 27, who works in health advocacy in Washington. "That's the Obama I voted for."

Many spoke of hope for more bipartisanship and compromise between Obama and the politically divided Congress, where Obama's Democrats control the Senate and Republicans lead the House of Representatives.


Moby himself, bald and goateed, appeared without fanfare, in a hoodie and glasses.

The hoodie and glasses quickly came off, and the DJ, grinning occasionally, raised his hands as he glowed under a red spotlight. He filled the room with thumping and swooshing electronic music for some two hours.

The show avoided the fate of Moby's 2009 inaugural performance, when a power outage left the star and Eastman drumming on trash cans and otherwise improvising to produce sound for more than an hour.

Moby's support of Obama is no secret. The musician actively posts in his online journal and Facebook page, often sharing his views on hot political topics.

This month, Moby weighed in on the heated debate over gun control. He criticized Republicans and the National Rifle Association, the nation's largest gun-rights group, over arguments they have made in opposing stricter gun ownership laws.

Moby's fans, regardless of their political leanings, did not seem bothered by the DJ's political activity.

"If you have that powerful platform and you use it to inspire people, I think it's spectacular," said art manager John Herlig, 48, who said he was registered as an independent voter.

About 2 a.m. Sunday, the crowd roared as Moby started playing parts of some tunes from the 1990s, when he was particularly popular.

Perhaps in a nod to the inauguration spirit, Moby rolled through a verse from a piece by fellow English DJ Fatboy Slim:

"We've come a long long way together, through the hard times and the good. I have to celebrate you, baby, I have to praise you like I should."

(Editing by David Lindsey and Cynthia Osterman)