Not just protests: Trump's inauguration week will also bring in black-tie events

Trump supporters will be celebrating his win with tuxedos and ballgowns at galas across the city in January – while thousands of other will be protesting

Thousands of people are expected to flood into the capital in unprecedented numbers to protest against the new president, but others are celebrating Donald Trump’s win in classic Washington DC style: with tuxedos and ballgowns.

Trump will attend two inauguration balls on 21 January. The inauguration week is like the Oscars for DC, with political organizations and state societies throwing black-tie events, and guest attendance possible for a few hundred dollars (although the most-exclusive events are often available only to the very wealthy and powerful).

Here are some of the inauguration galas with the most distinct personality.


This is one for people who have dubbed themselves Trump’s “happy warriors”, an inauguration ball called Deplora-ball (yes, take a moment to soak in that pun) hosted by a group from the so-called “alt-right” movement. Organizers MAGA 3X (MAGA stands for Make America Great Again) declare the 19 January event “the biggest meme ever”.

“In 2016, Americans in favor of competent, America-first leadership were insulted, harassed and assaulted for holding views contrary to those of the bicoastal, bipartisan ‘elites’,” reads the event website.

“Despite overwhelming cultural opposition, a groundswell of Americans rose up together to embrace these labels (especially ‘Deplorables’) to meme our way to the Whitehouse and elect Donald Trump,” it continues.

For a taste of what the Deplora-ball might be like, organizers have already engaged in public spats this week after one of them, Tim Treadstone (known as @BakedAlaska on Twitter) started tweeting antisemitic comments. Fellow organizer and alt-right voice Mike Cernovich kicked Treadstone out of the event, and white nationalist leader Richard Spencer slammed Cernovich as “alt-light”.

Milo Yiannopoulos, who got banned from Twitter for bullying comedian Leslie Jones and according to new reports will receive a $250,000 book advance from an imprint of Simon & Schuster, is expected to attend as a guest of honor.

The original site of the event, the Clarendon Ballroom, backed out after public criticism. It will now be held at the National Press Club, and the NPC released a statement clarifying Deplora-ball was a private gala and “not an event sponsored or endorsed by the National Press Club”.

Another formal Deplora-ball event, details to still be announced, will take place on inauguration day itself.

Organizers are calling on Trump “deplorables” to create their own Deplora-ball events across the country, with supporters in 18 states already signing up (a map shows multiple private house parties, including ones in Jacksonville, Florida, and Modesto, California).

Creative Coalition’s Inaugural Ball for the Arts

For the last 20 years, the Creative Coalition has hosted a bipartisan inauguration night gala fundraiser. The theme of this year’s is “the right to bear arts”.

“It does not matter whether you supported Hillary or Trump or Bernie or your grandmother. This is an event that supports one thing: arts in America,” said Robin Bronk, the organization’s CEO. Prices for the inauguration fundraiser gala start at two standard tickets for $5,000, or a pair of VIP tickets for $10,000.

Good thing it doesn’t matter who you supported, because the lineup of stars hosting the event – released on election day, before Trump had won – lists plenty of prominent Clinton backers.

Actor Tim Daly, who stars in Madame Secretary and campaigned for Clinton at rallies in Ohio, is the first listed host. The second, actress Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights, Nashville) posted a selfie on Instagram in May of her and Clinton, declaring “#Imwithher”. The third, actor John Leguizamo, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times saying the only good thing Trump has done was inspire Latinos to rise against him.

When asked what the mood of the gala would be since so many Clinton backers would be attending an event honoring a new Republican president, Bronk declared it “business as usual”.

“It’s not for President Trump. It’s an event to call attention to the need for the arts,” she said.

The Latino Coalition

In Trump’s first speech as a presidential candidate in 2015 he called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals”, later promising to build a wall to stop undocumented Latino immigrants and to deport all undocumented migrants (a claim he’s now largely walked back to focus on undocumented migrants with criminal records). But he ended up winning 29% of the Latino vote.

The invite for the event hosted by the Latino Coalition, an organization aimed at improving economic and business opportunities for Latinos, highlights that delicate balance:

Over the past of year, we have asked ourselves whether this is the best of times or worst of times for Hispanics in America. While the answer to that question has at times been mixed, we believe there is every reason to believe that the best of times are ahead of us!.

The Latino Coalition looks forward to working with the Trump administration and the new Congress to build on the considerable economic and cultural accomplishments of Hispanic Americans.

The coalition’s event, on 18 January at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, costs $175.

The Great Gatsby Presidential Inaugural Ball

One of the few inauguration night balls available to the public, the Great Gatsby Presidential Inaugural Ball at the National Portrait Gallery, is a newcomer to the scene. It’s being hosted by Dardanella, a party company, and founder Paul Ervin insists the ball is apolitical.

He acknowledges when the ball was announced in June, “the outlook for the president of the US was a little different”, said Ervin. “I think we were all confident in who would be elected and made moves based on that.”

After the election, 10% of partygoers sold or swapped their tickets, declaring themselves uninterested in attending.

“It was never about Republican or Democrat, red or blue, Hillary or Trump,” said Ervin. “We are adamant to ask people to leave their political views at the door, out in the cold, we don’t want them.”

The 1920s Depression-era event will include costumes, dance classes and orchestras playing (including an 11-piece all-female jazz orchestra, which Ervin notes “would have been beautiful for a Hillary election”).

Tickets range from $150 to $350.

Ervin says the event is “a celebration of the institution of the American presidency”, and he expects a wide cross-section of guests.

But, he concedes, “a large percentage coming to our event are also marching the next day” at the Women’s March on Washington.


Amber Jamieson

The GuardianTramp

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