A nightclub in Arlington, Va., says it is receiving harassing phone calls after backing out of hosting an inauguration party celebrating President-elect Donald Trump.
Until this week, Clarendon Ballroom was in talks with organizers of a “DeploraBall” on the night before inauguration hosted by a group called Citizens for Trump and featuring some of Trump’s most prominent and aggressive online boosters.
Sandra Hoehne of Clarendon Ballroom emphasized that no contract had been signed when the North Arlington nightclub decided not to host the event. Since then, she said, the club has been getting harassed by phone.
Jack Posobiec, one of the organizers, said his group was in “final negotiations” with the venue until this week, when Clarendon Ballroom abruptly backed off.
“They knew from the first email that it was an event to celebrate President Trump,” Posobiec said. “It was perfectly fine until The Washington Post started calling them out.”
He was referring to a tweet by a Washington Post reporter noting the event. At that time, The Post had not written about the event on its website or paper.
In a statement, Clarendon Ballroom said that the event fell through not because of political pressure but because of “the suspicious actions of the organizers.” The venue was upset that “Citizens For Trump” started selling tickets before asking for a contract. The venue owners were also concerned by the views of some of the guests listed online.
Maggiano’s Little Italy in Friendship Heights had to apologize last month after unwittingly hosting an event where participants offered praise of Adolf Hitler.
Among the guest stars listed on the ticket sales page for the ball are contributors to the conspiracy site InfoWars and the alt-right platform Breitbart. One prominent organizer, Michael Cernovich, has written that while he has disagreements with the alt-right, a far-right movement that seeks a whites-only state, “We should be having an open discussion about what it means to have a nation, and who should be allowed into our nation.”
However, Posobiec said that the organizers have no interest in white nationalism and that the event is open to Trump supporters of all races, religions and sexual identities.
“Any citizen of the United States who wants to support Trump is welcome within our ranks,” he said.
Posobiec himself went to Comet Ping Pong with a live-streaming camera when conspiracy theories raged online claiming Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of the D.C. pizza parlor. He said he was curious about the claims and “thought I could just show it was a regular pizza place.” Two weeks later, Edgar Maddison Welch of Salisbury, N.C., was arrested after police said he fired a gun inside the restaurant. No one was injured.
Arlington police spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed that Clarendon Ballroom reported receiving “harassing phone calls” but said there had been “no credible threat.”
She said the callers are “just telling them that they’re liberal, name-calling.”
Citizens for Trump is seeking a new venue. The group has already sold 500 tickets ($29.95, including two drink tickets and light hors d’oeuvres). Now, Posobiec said, it is looking for a place that will hold a thousand Trump fans.
“It may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise,” he said.