States, advocates host balls of all stripes as inaugural kicks off

WASHINGTON – Not everyone who comes to Washington this weekend will be able to participate in the pomp of the three officially sanctioned inaugural balls, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a chance to put on their dancing shoes.

Or boots.

Texas’ Black Tie and Boots Ball is just one of the many smaller events for those with an itch for policy-themed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. They range from the Kentucky Society of Washington’s Bluegrass Ball – replete with bourbon tastings – to blowout parties hosted by every stripe of special interest.

The State Society of Arizona, a nonprofit advocacy and networking group for Arizonans and Arizona issues in Washington, is hosting a ball on the eve of Friday’s inauguration “to celebrate the people, cuisine and music of the Grand Canyon state,” according to the society’s website.

“We are excited for a wonderful event this evening and look forward to spending time with 500 of our closest friends,” said Kelly Roberson, a congressional staffer and president of the society.

She said she expects the majority of Arizona’s legislators to attend, their dance cards permitting, with money raised from the evening going toward event costs and the society’s mission of fostering networking and camaraderie among Grand Canyon State transplants in D.C.

Some Arizona interests will also be represented at the Native Nations Inaugural Ball, hosted Friday at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Pinal County’s Ak-Chin Indian Community was one of several tribal sponsors of the event, which will raise funds toward the creation of a Native Nations Veterans Memorial in Washington, which Congress authorized in 2013.

Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Oklahoma, and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, will co-chair the event, which will feature a buffet of Native food, music and dancing. Gabriel Ayala, a classical guitarist of the Southern Arizona Yaqui people and a University of Arizona alumnus, will perform.

Those who want more politics in their party can try to get into sold-out events like the Inaugural Deploraball Gala, hosted by a group called Gays for Trump and marketed as both “The Biggest MEME ever” and “The Gayest Gala in DC.”

Peter Boykin, the president of Gays for Trump, put his group on the scene by paying billboards around North Carolina, his home state. He said if he could put up billboards, and if Trump won, there was no reason he couldn’t host a ball, too.

“It will be the first inaugural ball thrown by LGBT conservatives,” Boykin said. “I just kind of want to make history.”

Boykin’s event will feature dinner, drink, dancing and several surprise speakers. He said his group does not oppose or contradict the mainstream LGBT conservative group, Log Cabin Republicans, which declined to endorse Trump, but rather hopes to work with them and demonstrate the diversity of the GOP and LGBT communities.

“We’re diverse and we’re different,” Boykin said. “We need both sides – we need more libertarians, more Trumpletons. We need more of a diverse LGBT community to get things done.”