The line is out the door, two bouncers are turning away everyone who hasn't already bought a ticket. While we wait for our friend to come down with our tickets, people jostle and complain in myriad accents.
Inside it's hot and dim. A red-haired woman on the stage is singing "Obama, Obama's in the white house," clapping her hands and getting about half the audience to clap along with her. "There's a black man in the white house, and the white man's in the out house," she continues. We squeeze through the crowd and buy beers. I can identify only about five other Americans in the crowd, which seems to represent every age and every continent. There are punks, old men with ponytails, bleach-blond lipgloss girls. I pick out a few individuals: a Maori woman with her arm in a sling, a white guy with dredlocks down to his calves, a young American with an oversized T-shirt bearing a picture of Obama on it, above the word "PIMP."
We wind up talking with three other Americans, all of whom live in Wellington now: the gray-haired Chief Economist of the Ministry of Fisheries, his wife, and an IT guy originally from Florida. Onstage, a man in full African garb takes the mic. Earlier he had told a folk story about slaves flying to freedom, but now he's riffing on the inauguration. "This is a great day for a great son of Africa," he says, and then the music and the dancing start.