Dance Fever

Posted July 18, 2007 at 6:19pm

There once was a retreat in Nantucket … and with an opening like that, one can only expect that an account of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s annual meeting in the limerick-friendly town might be a bit racy. [IMGCAP(1)]

Turns out, the event did have its wilder moments, like some smoking-hot dance floor action Saturday night by Sens. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and former Sen. John Breaux (La.). HOH spies say the gettin’ down commenced after a dinner at Democratic fundraiser George Cloutier’s seaside pad.

“They were grinding,” one attendee tells HOH.

The dinner was one of four the group broke into after a day of dry policy and fundraising talks — and it clearly turned out to be the wildest.

Cantwell and Manuel Ortiz, a lobbyist at Quinn Gillespie & Associates, led the charge onto the dance floor, followed by Brown and Stabenow. The Senatorial dance squad boogied to kitschy grooves such as the Village People’s dance-floor staple “Y.M.C.A.,” the spy says. Breaux, whose dancing skills are well-chronicled, at one point corralled revelers into a conga line circling the dance floor.

But at least one lawmaker kept his dance card clear. Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) didn’t bust a move — that is, until the bus taking attendees back to their hotels arrived. An HOH spy says the groove-averse Senator made a break for it as soon as the transportation showed up.

The next morning, DSCC Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) appeared a little put out after he heard about his colleagues’ raucous evening. However, Schumer, who had attended another of the (presumably tamer) dinners, told the group he was sorry to have missed out on the fun.

We’re guessing Schumer, whose neighborhood of Brooklyn was the setting for disco flick “Saturday Night Fever,” does a mean “Y.M.C.A.”

Staffers Cool on Hot-Dog Feast. House staffers had some beef with a hot dog and baseball-themed event on Wednesday sponsored by the American Meat Institute. The annual event, held in the courtyard of the Rayburn House Office Building, apparently took its exclusive admission policy seriously, leaving many grumbling staffers saying the usually fun afternoon had gone to the dogs.

Attendees who had not RSVPed ahead of time were denied admission, one House staffer who got bounced tells HOH. “They were even turning away chiefs of staff,” the spy marvels. “Not exactly a great way to make friends on the Hill.”

And another attendee says two rules in effect also irked hot-dog fans: No drinks or food could be taken out of the event, and once you left the party, you couldn’t take your admittance badge with you. In previous years, staffers would come away with trays of food for colleagues and could give their badges to friends and co-workers, allowing them to attend without an invite, HOH hears.

The Meat Institute insisted that there was no change of policy from previous years. “It’s always been an invitation-only event,” a spokeswoman said, adding that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was protesting nearby, necessitating the entrance policies. “We obviously can’t provide hot dogs for everybody on Capitol Hill.”

On the bright side, the new policies meant shorter lines for partygoers seeking autographs from baseball legends Robin Roberts, Bob Boone and Al Bumbrey, who were on hand to sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans.

Hookers, but Not Vitter’s. It’s been a hooker-ific few weeks, what with Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) admitting he was a client of the alleged “D.C. Madam” and rumors of other Washington types also showing up in the madam’s recently released records. And now, HOH’s cup is runneth-ing over with this almost-too-icky revelation from the Copley News Service reporters who broke the story of the misdeeds of former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.).

According to the story, Cunningham revealed some seamy details of his weekend with prostitutes hired by defense contractor Brent Wilkes during a prison interview with the FBI, including the following gem:

“[Cunningham] insisted there were no prostitutes at Wilkes’ Washington poker games, but said Wilkes hired prostitutes for him during a Hawaii vacation. Cunningham was miffed that Wilkes got the ‘younger and cuter’ prostitute and said he was ‘somewhat embarrassed on this occasion because he had some difficulty in completing intercourse.’ On the next night, Cunningham again had a prostitute but said he ‘did not have sex’ with her ‘because he felt guilty about his behavior.’”

Ordinarily, HOH would crack wise here, but she’s gonna let this one go.

Country Morning. Vince Gill and Amy Grant, the singer-songwriter husband-and-wife team who boast shelf-loads of his-and-her Grammy awards (think of the dusting involved!), dropped by Tortilla Coast on Wednesday morning to chow down with Blue Dog Democrats. Though the breakfast meeting’s topic — intellectual property issues in the music business — was weighty, the Members got a few guffaws with their coffee when Gill discussed the possibility of his own political future. “People ask me if I’d consider running for office,” he told the Members seated around the table (was that a sparkle in some eyes at the prospect of a dazzling recruit?). “I say, ‘I can’t because I’ve got a sordid … future.’”

Gill, who’s a native Oklahoman, also signed a guitar for home-state Rep. Dan Boren — prompting the two men to discover they had a link. Gill and Grant have a copy of the lyrics to Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” signed by its songwriter, Mae Boren Axton, hanging in their home. And Axton just happens to be the Congressman’s great-aunt.

Boren is keeping the freshly signed guitar in his office, a spokesman said.

The Morning After. Passels of all-nighter fuel — energy foods such as McDonald’s and greasy pizza — made their way into the Capitol during Tuesday night’s jammies-and-Iraq session. But on Wednesday, only eyelid-propping coffee would do for staffers worn out from the late shift the night before and hoping to make it through the long afternoon.

Cups & Co., the popular coffee shop located in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building and widely considered to be the purveyor of the best Senate-side joe, was even more packed than usual on Wednesday, HOH spies say, with lines stretching to the door. Owner Charlie Chung estimated for HOH that sales were up a brisk 15 percent over their usual. He says he wanted to keep the java flowing by extending the shop’s hours on Tuesday, but his staffers complained (a tactic that surely didn’t work for Senate underlings). “People want the big coffees,” he said of his customers’ preferences on Wednesday, making a gesture indicating a bucket-sized cup. “Venti.”

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