Tuesday night outside the Mayan Theater all the usual suspects were gathering for another night of L.A. clubbing: stilt walkers, steam-punks, prissy punk princesses, dudes in LED-wired tuxedos and several women sporting “creative” uses of the American flag. Yes, just right for a night of post-circus punk-rock burlesque. But this was really an inaugural ball. Really! The Art of Change inaugural ball opened its doors at 7 p.m. to a sold-out crowd – many of whom headed straight for the dance floor, giddy with the intoxicating anticipation of … a presidential speech? Exactly.
Event coordinator Athena Demos, resplendent in a cream-colored vintage ball gown, welcomed the 1,500 who packed the house up to the highest balcony seats. “This event was created with a lot of love. Trust us. How else could we charge only $10?”
The screening of President Barack Obama’s speech held the attention of the rapt-if-boisterous partygoers, many of whom began toasting to friends and strangers during breaks in Obama’s words. Afterward, DJ Motion Potion whipped the dance floor into a lather, playing mash-ups in the spirit of the moment, including a very danceable mix of the Beatles “Revolution.”
Outside on the patio, the Carbon Grill served up Hawaiian barbecue, veggie wraps and strawberry-orange lemonade. Echo Park-based Hip Hop Chocolate was on hand, showcasing their exquisitely sculpted Obama heads, delicately marbled in white and dark chocolate. Upstairs, the Hive Collective set up a mixed-media gallery for patrons to peruse as they waited in long lines for drinks and bathroom access.
The Mutaytor hit the stage around 9:30 p.m., blasting through a set of classic and new numbers, including a stunning swing dance choreographed by Suze Q. Burlesque beauties, belly dancers, aerialists, hula-hoopers, staff spinners – the Mutaytor pulled out all the stops. The stomping “Hambonio” had audience members waving their American flags, while Mutaytor veteran Roo Ruane swung from a hanging cymbal over the stage. Riding out a couple years of adversity that threatened to break up the band for good, it’s clear that this 25-plus-member troupe has gone through a mutation of its own. Tuesday’s show proved beyond a doubt that Mutaytor is back in action, with hula hoops, glow poi and drumsticks in hand.
After Mutaytor’s 90 minutes of mayhem, the Crystal Method and DJ Wolfie held their own, keeping a sizable number on the dance floor until after midnight — no small feat for a Tuesday evening.
Art, party, DJs and politics under one roof? Looks like Obama’s promised change is already at hand. Gathering up sequined and feathered remains on the dance floor, Demos was resolute. “I’ve got a lot of plans for 2009, and there’s definitely going to be more events like this one. Los Angeles better get ready.”
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