Inside the Perimeter
By Karen Floyd
Photographs by Josh Norris and Jay Vaughan
The inauguration of a new president and the simultaneous transfer of power is a vetted process, steeped in history. Well-honed protocols have remained unchanged for over 100 years. Traditions like the ceremonial swearing in of a president follow a basic template, with the content of the speeches providing the singular opportunity to individuate.
Yet despite the rigidity of certain components of the inauguration itself, each president has an unparalleled opportunity to create an experience that reflects and represents his unique vision and style. In the following pages, ELYSIAN has captured through photography, elements of the inauguration reflecting the distinctive flare of the 45th president and the 58th presidential inauguration of the United States of America. Using inaugural timelines as the narrator, ELYSIAN sought to capture the essence of the three-day event.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 19
Embassies opened their doors and participated in the inaugural festivities throughout the day, including the Bulgarian Embassy on Embassy Row at Dimitar Peshev Plaza. Photographs capture a reception to meet Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) and the Bulgarian Ambassador Tihomir Stoytchev.
PRE-BALL DROP-IN – BOURBON BEFORE THE BALL
Pre-ball drop-ins like the Bourbon Before the Ball, honoring S.C. Governor Henry McMaster, were held across Washington D.C. Located just two blocks from the Capitol, close to 300 guests ushered in an evening of celebration in a swank town house with tented front and back yards. Congressmen, governors, constitutional officers, lieutenant governors, attorneys general, ambassadors and dignitaries danced to live music while drinking bourbon and craft cocktails at this town house in the heart of Washington D.C.
State Society sponsored balls were aplenty, with at least 10 documented. Three of these unofficial balls are covered by ELYSIAN, each with its distinct feel and ambiance. The state sponsored balls of Georgia, New Jersey and South Carolina were as different as their respective geography.
GEORGIA STATE SOCIETY PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL BALL
The Georgia State Society Presidential Inaugural Gala was held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. This two-level elegant balcony was packed as Georgians danced and swayed to the music of Josh Turner, who was tucked in an alcove. With indigenous food and drinks, Peach State guests were brought back in time to the elegance of “Gone with the Wind.”
NEW JERSEY STATE GARDEN STATE INAUGURAL BALL
The New Jersey State Society Garden State Inaugural Gala was held at the fashionable Washington Court Hotel. The evening celebrated the fun and romance of New Jersey with the band commonly referred to as The Whitehouse Effect, a local band from Baltimore. Each room of the hotel was decorated and showcased a distinctive feel of New Jersey. From the levity of the boardwalk of the Jersey shore to the elegance of the state, all sectors were well represented.
SOUTH CAROLINA STATE SOCIETY PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL BALL
The South Carolina State Society Presidential Inaugural Ball, held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, flowed onto three levels. The Kogod Courtyard housed a live band, dance floor, buffets and bars. Guests were privy to two galleries, The American Origins and Folk and Self-taught. Located on the second floor was a champagne bar and balcony overlooking the American Presidents Gallery. Finally, in the great hall on the third floor, contemporary and 20th century art surrounded buffets and bars.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 20
Inaugural preparation began early with street closings and robust security. At the break of dawn, media platforms arrived and the crews began building sets in anticipation of inclement weather. Holding areas were petitioned off and bomb detection dogs were everywhere as the police shifted systematically from section to section. People were not allowed into areas that just hours later would be packed.
The Inaugural swearing-in ceremony started as early as 2 a.m. for some. Lined for hours to go through security check points on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol Building, hundreds of thousands stood for the ceremony that officially started at 9:30 a.m. Color coded by seating or standing designation, attendees entered through assigned points per each location. Opening remarks began at 11:30 a.m. and the swearing-in at noon by the Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. The Trump and Pence families joined the president and vice president (as did members of Congress, the Supreme Court, the diplomatic corps and other invited guests) as the new president and vice president officially took office.
WATCH PARTY – MIMOSA MORNING
Inaugural watch parties like the one featured here, Mimosa Morning, invited guests to come in from the drizzle and cold as they watched history unfold on large-screen televisions in the warmth and comfort of a D.C. flat.
QUEUES, BLOCKADES AND SECURITY
Queues, blockades and security made navigation between official balls, unofficial balls and signature events a challenge for even the most seasoned attendee. Between street closings from the Inaugural Parade, that started at the steps of the Capitol Building and proceeded along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, to the presidential motorcade transporting the president to the official balls, security was high. Lines snaked back and forth, with thousands of ball-goers entering well-honed security portals. Even rickshaw transportation was at a premium as women in long gowns walked several blocks in high heels due to road closings.
Three official inaugural balls featured appearances by President Trump, Vice President Pence, their wives and family. While the Liberty and Freedom Inaugural Balls were held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the Salute to Our Armed Services Ball was at the National Building Museum. The Salute to Heroes/Veterans Inaugural Ball was attended by Vice President Pence and his wife at Renaissance Washington D.C., Downtown Hotel.
Several unofficial balls held this night were not able to be covered by ELYSIAN considering street closures and blockades along the parade route and around the National Mall.