I Went to Mar-a-Lago and Wrote about It

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Make America great again, once chandelier at a time.

You don’t have to look too deep into my feeds to figure out my (very strong) political leanings, so when I was asked to work and attend an event in Mar-A-Lago A.K.A the #winterwhitehouse, I was dumbfounded. Then, I was curious. Would I, a super feminist Latina-Americana be caught dead partying in the house of Donald Trump? Let’s find out.

Let me first preface this story by saying that this event, like hundreds of others here in town, has been taking place in this venue for years and was in no way affiliated with the club.  It was also connected with a non-profit that I love and support, and which does great service in this community. Yes, I could have turned down the opportunity, but I didn’t.

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My visit started when I literally waltzed into the place as if I were practically Ivanka. No need for ID or any sort of official protocol was requested, just a toothy grin and a pretty face was all I needed to get through the gates. I was floored. I had to come and go a total of three times, and not once did anyone question who I was or why I was there.

 If anything the, staff was extremely welcoming, a bit too welcoming if you count the doorman who warmly sexually harassed me by opening my car door and grabbing my arm without any consent. “So you don’t want to follow me in the golf cart then,” he said, still not giving me a justifiable reason for the open door and unnecessary arm grab. “Nope, not in the slightest." Since when do doormen just reach out and touch people? Must be a Mar-a-Lago thing. 

I was uncomfortable, but not surprised by this almost cliché welcome. I guess it wouldn’t have been the Winter White House without that patriarchal party favor. I should have complained, but who would have listened? The owner? I doubt it. Seems like that vibe is just par for the course.

And speaking of vibes. What was the vibe? Eyes Wide Shut at night was the vibe. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap was the vibe. Even though the grounds were pristine and the day was gorgeous, I felt slimy. I couldn't help but notice that every worker was indeed foreign. I kept wondering about their visas.  If they had any, would they overstay them after they expired? Their dead-behind-the-eyes smiley faces seemed to wink at me as if to say, “Yes. We're not going anywhere.”  

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The grounds and architecture were quintessential Palm Beach: Mizner-esque architecture and perfectly manicured lawns and trees, beautiful tropical flowers everywhere. As expected, it was all very presidential. The interior might be considered pretty by some, but others may have seen the opulence as tacky. Personally, it was not to my taste, but I will say that it was very grand, dazzling, and expensive. Oddly enough, I observed that there were chandeliers everywhere; even the bathroom mirrors where flanked in mini chandeliers, which were a fine touch in contrast with the Softsoap liquid pumps.  What kind of person needs so many chandeliers? 

After some visual merchandising and jewelry setup, I started heading back home. As I drove away from what was sure to be a beautiful party, I was certain I would not return for the following event later that evening.  In the end, I just did what I went there to do, nothing more. 

To this day, I still can't put my finger on how it felt to be at that place. I just could not, in good faith, pretend that it was okay though, that it was fine just to relax at Mar-A-Lago while so many people’s lives and livelihoods are compromised by the owner of that same club.  I guess it’s hard for me to enjoy an invitation to the home of a man I don’t respect, president or not. And that’s all there is to it.

Gabriela Viteri