As part of Friday’s inauguration festivities, President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and their wives will spend their first evening in office attending a series of balls held in Washington, D.C. Here’s everything you need to know about them:
Three official inaugural balls are being held. Two of the balls, Liberty and Freedom: The Official Presidential Inaugural Balls, will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The third, a Salute To Our Armed Services Ball, will take place at the National Building Museum. All three balls begin at 7 p.m. E.T.
The first two balls are open to the public. Tickets to the Liberty and Freedom Balls are $50 per person. The Salute To Our Armed Services Ball is by invitation only, with tickets provided free of charge.
The official inaugural balls will feature a number of entertainers. Sam Moore, The Rockettes, Tim Rushlow and his Big Band, Silhouettes, Pelican212, The Piano Guys, Circus 1903, Cache Olson, Lexi Walker and Erin Boheme are the scheduled special guests at the Liberty and Freedom balls. Tony Orlando and Josh Weathers will perform at the Salute to Our Armed Services Ball.
Inaugural balls are a fixture of Washington’s social calendar after presidential inaugurations. The first ball dates back to James Madison’s inauguration in 1809. Some presidents, like Woodrow Wilson and Warren G. Harding, did not attend inaugural balls because they considered them excessive.
For First Ladies, the inaugural balls are a time to formally introduce themselves to America. Their sartorial choices reflect their personal values and have in the past set a precedent for what their husbands’ administrations will come to represent. For both of former President Barack Obama’s inaugurations, First Lady Michelle Obama chose Jason Wu, an openly gay designer who was born in Taiwan, for the gown she wore. The two rumored names in the running for Melania Trump are Karl Lagerfeld and Ralph Lauren. Check out some of the most memorable inaugural gowns here.
The number of inaugural events that presidents attend — and their cachet outside of Washington — has grown over the years. The first inauguration to have two balls was for Andrew Jackson in 1833. By the time John F. Kennedy was sworn into office in 1963, the balls had attracted Hollywood elite, like Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. Obama attended three balls after his second inauguration like Trump will on Friday, but he attended more after his first inauguration in 2009.
Several other balls are scheduled for the evening. Although Trump and Pence are attending three balls, a number of events are scheduled in Washington on Friday night. Among others, Planned Parenthood will host its Pink Ball at the Carol Whitehill Moses Center, while the 1920s-themed The Great Gatsby Presidential Inaugural Ball will take place at the National Portrait Gallery.