Correspondents Dinner bids farewell to gold curtains, welcomes wrinkly backdrop

After a two-year break, the White House Correspondents Dinner returned with a new look that shed its familiar gold curtain background.

The annual event, sometimes dubbed the “nerd prom,” was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but returned to the Washington Hilton International Ballroom April 30, 2022 in front of a fully vaccinated crowd. 

The ballroom is underground and features unique ceiling soffits and gold-toned walls, which can be explored in this 3D experience posted by the Hilton.

After years of using gold curtains as the primary background behind the lectern and head table, the look was changed to draping uplit in blue along with a printed background depicting the White House at night with “Celebrating the first amendment” printed high above.

Portions of the gold curtains remained visible in wide shots of the room shown throughout the evening. 

Unfortunately, the background looked like it could have used some ironing — because there were noticeably visible folds and wrinkles in it, presumably from when it was folded after production and before being installed.


For years, the dinner used the gold drapery installed around the main stage in the room, which can seat up to 2,670 people in banquet rounds, according to the Hilton website.

That draping appears to have been present since around the 2001 event, the first held after the end of President Bill Clinton’s two terms, with different looks, including blue and red curtains, used at events prior to that. 

The use of those gold curtains has led to the misconception that the event is held in the White House, which often features large installations of gold curtains, including the ones often seen in the East Room.

Donald Trump did not attend the event in 2017, 2018 or 2019 (and the 2020 event was canceled as noted above).