WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 -- "I'm looking forward to getting to work," Bush told a crowd of hundreds of supporters as the Washington convention center. "But before we start to work, there's some dancing to be done."
Bush and first lady Laura Bush swayed stiffly to whoops and cheers from a tuxedoed crowd brimming with 10-gallon hats. The new first couple didn't stay long, though. Only one dance. The Texas-Wyoming ball was one of the last stops of the night for Bush, who normally likes to go to bed around 10 p.m.
Before Bush arrived, Vice President Dick Cheney also dropped by the ball, which featured local Austin jazz act Mr. Fabulous and a cameo by actor Kelsey Grammer.
"I've got a lot of friends in Hollywood who are really pissed off at me right now," Grammer said.
Male guests at the event donned Lone Star bow ties and vests under their tuxedo jackets and cowboy boots featured prominently, especially at the buffet tables, where towering blocks of ice were fashioned into footwear any ranchman could appreciate.
John Oliver Wilson of Napa Valley, Calif., said he felt at home among the men and women showing off their special brand western wardrobe -- even though he wore a kilt.
"They love it," said Wilson, 62, of the responses he had gotten from Texan about his plaid skirt, which he wore in honor of a Scottish holiday that happened to coincide with Bush's inauguration. "The most common question is, 'What's underneath?'"
So it went through Saturday night for President Bush and the first lady, running on adrenaline and adulation after a hectic and historic day, dancing their way from party to party.
Their first stop among the night's eight galas was the Arizona ball at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building, where Bush said:$?'We're so happy to share in this magnificent day. Sitting on stage and overlooking the mall was a wonderful experience. Now is not the time for speeches, it's the time for dancing.'
Bush noted it was the first inaugural ball to be held in the building named for the former president.
The evening's festivities capped a day that began with a church service and reached its defining moment at 12:01 p.m., when Bush was sworn in as the nation's 43rd president. That was followed by Bush's 14-minute inaugural speech and a motorcade back down Pennsylvania Avenue to the parade reviewing stand in front of the White House. Wet, cold weather dampened celebrants and protesters but not the mood of the day.
The Arizona ball appeared to signal a return in Washington to conspicuous elegance, evidenced by the miles of stretch limousines parked outside the Reagan Building and the mink coats begin checked at the door.
Bush supporters paraded down the center's long corridors to the main ballroom where sounds of the U.S. Navy ceremonial band wafted down from the second balcony and a 10-piece jazz band riffed on the stage. But almost no one danced even when gently prodded by the evening's hosts, Marie Osmond and Meatloaf.
Delicately sequined dresses and taffeta gowns -- mostly black -- were the apparel of choice for most of the women, who hailed from Kentucky, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota and Tennessee. The men were less daring, with most sticking to the traditional black tuxedos and bowties, though several sported ten-gallon hats. One little girl, appearing to be about 8 years old, had red, white and blue streamers in her hair.
For the evening galas, the president wore a black tuxedo and Laura Bush wore a red-sequined gown with the hint of a train. The couple smiled as cheers rose from an admiring crowd, many of whom hoisted three fingers to form a "W". As quickly as they came, they whisked into the night for the next stop.