Chuck Brown Will Play Wilson Building was originally published on City Desk on Jan. 12, 2009, at 1:06 pm
Chuck Brown, having busted loose of his prior Jan. 20 engagement, will now be playing the 51st State Ball at the John A. Wilson Building.
Planners of the city hall ball had speculated about bringing Brown in when they announced their event in December, but the Godfather of Go-Go was already booked for the Inaugural D.C. Ball, scheduled for the Old Post Office Pavilion.
The 51st Staters caught a break when organizers of that ball were forced to cancel last week, after logistical concerns about loading in equipment, food, and musical gear made the event impossible. So Brown will move his act three blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Allen Tubis, an event planner who organized the Inaugural D.C. event as a benefit for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (he’s a longtime member of the organization’s board), says the traffic and security restrictions meant holding the ball at that location would be impossible. For one thing, he says, the Secret Service needed the Post Office Pavilion loading dock for storage space. “Our situation is, if you can’t load in the food, the sound system, you just can’t do it,” he says.
Tubis explored alternatives, such as a smaller ballroom at Metro Center, but “we started looking at the logistics of it, the cost of it [and] it just did not work.”
So though ticket sales were brisk, Tubis was forced to pull the plug last week—the first time he’s had to cancel an event in 25 years in the business, he says—and he’s offering full refunds to folks who had shelled out up to $150 for a ticket. (Another ball held nearby, the MTV ball at the Ronald Reagan Building, was canceled last week for similar reasons.)
But the Boys and Girls Clubs’ loss is the statehood movement’s gain. “A lot of the people coming to our event wanted to see Chuck Brown. So we’ve been notifying them,” Tubin says. “For $51, you can get a ticket to see Chuck Brown.”
Ayanna Chase, a staffer for Harry Thomas Jr. who’s planning the city hall bash, said Friday she’s sold about 200 tickets so far out of 2,000. Folks from across the country have expressed interest, and Chase—active in the local Young Democrats—says she’s gotten a lot of interest from fellow Young Dems looking for a low-cost party option.
Some roadblocks remain: LL is told the organizers still have to get insurance for the event and logistics still need to be worked out, but Chase says that’ll be worked out soon. Come Jan. 20, she says, expect the Wilson Building to sport a “semi-ballroom kind of feel.”
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