Photos from Washington's premier social event of the year
WASHINGTON D.C. - What started as a small dinner for the then all-male members of the White House press corps in the 1920s has become Washington’s premier social event of the year. A star-studded gala that for a weekend makes one of the biggest events in Hollywood 3,000 miles away on the Potomac.
The White House Correspondents Association annual dinner, dubbed the capital’s “Nerd Prom” or “Washington’s Oscars” is a source of love, criticism, anxiety, festivity, and selfies for the denizens of Washington’s political world.
Journalists, congressional staffers, administration officials, lobbyists, and strategists get to rub elbows with Hollywood celebrities, who get a political fix and a chance to advance a cause they care about.
The president traditionally attends the dinner, and fifteen Oval Office occupants have done so since the event started. Comedy is a centerpiece, with both the president and an entertainer – this year it’s “Saturday Night Live” star Cecily Strong – getting a chance to crack up the black tie-clad crowd at the Washington Hilton near Dupont Circle.
Major parties surrounding the event start as early as Thursday night and continue before, during, and after the actual dinner, with festivities continuing to brunch on Sunday.
The dinner was closed to women even after some joined the correspondent’s association. That changed in 1962, when President John F. Kennedy, on the urging of journalist Helen Thomas, threatened to boycott the event unless they allowed women.
The event raises thousands of dollars for a scholarship program, whose scholars are honored on stage every year. However, the main draw for most is the glitz, the fashion, and the chance to take pictures with someone famous.
Philip Montgomery is an award-winning documentary photographer based in New York.