News & Politics

No Dancing, No Live Music, No Standing: What an Election Night Party at the Trump Hotel Might Look Like

The hotel formerly known as Trump. photograph by Evy Mages

If President Trump’s hoped-for election night party at his namesake hotel in DC comes about, the fête will not be restricted to 50 guests, as is the case in most of the District of Columbia under its Phase Two reopening rules. Because the Trump Hotel has a liquor license, says Jared Powell, a spokesperson for the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, it can operate at up to 50-percent capacity based on the “lowest occupancy load or seating capacity” listed on the licensee’s certificate of occupancy.

The Trump Hotel’s website lists the capacity for various rooms: The first-floor ballroom appears to offer the largest space, with a banquet capacity of 1,000.

But, Powell says, a host venue must “adhere to all other Phase Two guidelines including no live entertainment or activities that require patrons to be in close proximity to one another such as dancing.”

That means guests must be seated, either at a table in a maximum party of six, or at a bar where no bartender is in attendance. Tables must be at least six feet apart from one another. Communal tables are allowed, but patrons must be six feet apart. Standing at bars is prohibited, and lots of other restrictions apply:

A food menu must be offered. The menu must include at least three items, and each table must purchase at least one. BYOB is prohibited, as are buffets. (Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club hosted a fundraiser for the President in October hours before he was diagnosed. That event, which prompted a state investigation, featured a buffet.)

Guests’ ability to commune must be restricted. Dancing is prohibited, DC says, as is playing darts (which already seems like an extremely bad idea for an election night party, but noted) or any event that occasions “patrons to be in close proximity to one another.”

No live music or entertainment. Sorry, no sing-alongs to “M-A-G-A.” Background music is allowed, but it has to be played “at a conversational level.”

Face masks must be worn. Staffers, even people in the kitchen, have to wear face coverings at all times. Guests must wear masks except when they’re eating or drinking. Luckily, the hotel has masks available for guests.

Guests must provide contact-tracing information. At least one person in each party must provide contact info in case the city needs to trace any coronavirus infections. Reservations must be made in advance, and anyone waiting to be seated must be outdoors.

Everything’s got to wrap up by midnight. If the election comes down to results in Nevada, the party will already be over.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.