It's party time here as Obama is sworn in

Jerome Taylor
Wednesday 14 January 2009 01:00

Anyone walking into the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn in north-west London on 20 January might be surprised to hear the jaunty jingles of cheerleaders echoing out into the streets. Instead of the muffled sounds of the latest blockbuster, those arriving will be serenaded with the chant: "United for change our people stood tall, their ballots made history with a vision for all. Obama our President, we welcomed him in. The future is here, let history begin!"

Americans might have been the only ones voting in the presidential election but the rest of the world shared in their joy as a black nominee finally won the White House. And as America celebrates Barack Obama's inauguration, the world, including Britain, will follow suit.

Cashing in on Obamamania, restaurants, theatres and clubs across the UK are hastily arranging specially-themed inauguration parties to herald the dawn of a new American era.

For Nicholas Kent, the artistic director of the Tricycle Theatre, hosting an Obama party was just too good an opportunity to pass up.

"We certainly never entertained the idea of holding Bush parties but with Obama it felt like the natural thing to do. We do a lot of political theatre and we do a lot of black theatre, so celebrating Obama's arrival at the White House makes perfect sense."

Live footage of the inauguration will be broadcast on the big screen while cheerleaders from a nearby American school will whip the crowd up as they chow down on quintessentially American pretzels and frothy beer. All proceeds from the events go the Tricycle's Education Programme.

"Obama's presidency feels like a new beginning and we wanted to celebrate that," said Mr Kent.

With 200,000 American nationals living in the UK, expats are planning a series of events to herald the post-Bush era as well.

Mr Obama's inauguration takes place in the morning, Washington time, which means viewers will be able to watch it here from 4pm to 8pm. And if Obama enthusiasm is anything like it was during the presidential race, the inauguration is likely to be avidly watched on both sides of the Atlantic.

Polls taken during the election campaign showed global support was greater for Mr Obama than for his Republican rival, John McCain. A BBC World Service poll found that 54 per cent of Britons supported Mr Obama, while only 12 per cent supported Mr McCain.

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