“Or Equinox,” his sister piped in. She was not referring to the gym chain but the restaurant near the White House on Connecticut Avenue.
Bruce Kieloch, a 43-year-old Democratic consultant, was wearing a purple tie and sunglasses like a headband to keep back his dreadlocks.
“It’s going to be a much sexier city,” he said as he stood in the front row listening to Mr. Haynes play. “You know what Carville said about it being Hollywood for ugly people, and Chicago is like a nice New York with no fashion sense? Well, D.C. is about to get a lot sexier.”
ON SATURDAY EVENING, in a mostly undecorated house in rapidly gentrifying Columbia Heights, some of the city’s young, left-leaning blogger elite were celebrating. Matthew Yglesias, the 27-year-old Think Progress blogger, reclined on a shapeless couch, drinking a can of Miller Lite. On the wall, under a clock that looked to have been lifted from a diner, was a poster of Obama and the words “Yes We Can.” By the stairs, a knot of bloggers discussed a party thrown by The New Republic earlier that evening, featuring a performance by the cellist Yo Yo Ma.
“He was sponsored by pharma,” said one blogger.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. What?” said another.
“We should’ve gotten Canadian pharma sponsorship like Yo Yo Ma!” said the first, adding, “He played my cousin’s bar mitzvah.”
The following night, a man named Adam Waldman, who helps wealthy people manage their philanthropic interests and is on the board of the Center for Global Development, hosted a cocktail hour at his mansion in Spring Valley, a lush neighborhood in northwest Washington that was home to Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush before they became president. Cher, one of Mr. Waldman’s clients, arrived in a black sequined shirt beneath a leopard-print overcoat.
Another client, the singer Wyclef Jean, wore a handsome pale green vest and a black skull cap. Mr. Jean runs a charity, the Yéle Haiti Foundation, which tries to raise the self-esteem of children in Haiti, where Mr. Jean lived until the age of 9. He was saying something about deforestation when Anthony Shriver, Maria’s brother and the son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, walked in and caught his eye.
“What’s up, baby!” said Mr. Jean.
“You, baby!” said Mr. Shriver, who was wearing a leather jacket..
“Lemme just say what’s up to my man,” Mr. Jean said, by way of excusing himself. “He’s one of the Kennedys, you know?”
Monday night, the Creative Coalition dinner at Teatro Goldoni restaurant on K Street was with people like Tim Daly, Marisa Tomei, Spike Lee, Matthew Modine, Alfre Woodard and Kerry Washington. “I think the Obamas have made it clear that they want the White House to be open to the people,” said the actress Ellen Burstyn, who had glammed up her simple black dress with an elaborate beaded necklace. “I think they’re going to be inviting lots of people. And they say they want to have art events, they want to have lunches, they want to have music. I think [New Yorkers] will certainly want to come here more. I haven’t wanted to come to Washington, and I love this city! I’m very happy that it’s our house again.”
Susan Sarandon, clad in a black dress and knee-high Ugg boots, was hiding out on a red velvet chair in the back of the room talking to the actress Lynn Whitfield about Obama’s daughters. “I think people feel they have a right to be here now, which is what I find to be so moving,” she told The Observer. “It’s like the people have come to reclaim the capital.”
Reporting from Washington: Irina Aleksander, Jason Horowitz, Leon Neyfakh.