Nerd Prom as described by Mark Leibovich, May 4, 2014:
..."I would hope that it would be some kind of pivot point in which Washington maybe collectively comes to a point of self-awareness that maybe this looks awful, maybe it’s excessive, maybe two or three or dozen parties, after parties, brunches are not necessary," Leibovich told Daily Intelligencer."Basically, this is just part of the disconnect between the self-celebration of Washington and the revulsion that people outside of it feel for the major institutions here, i.e. the media, i.e. Democrats, Republicans, Congress, lobbyists, whatever. And the disconnect between incredible prosperity and wealth and, frankly, decadence that has grown up here in the last couple of decades, and the very real economic struggles that the country has had in the last six years."...
The Masque of the Red Death by E. A. Poe, 1842:
THE "Red Death" had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal --the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the prince's own eccentric yet august taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the "Red Death."It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence.It was a voluptuous scene, that masquerade. But first let me tell of the rooms in which it was held...
Like Prince Prospero's castle, Nerd Prom was indeed breached and it's guests were indeed confronted by a terrifying avatar of the suffering beyond the walls of their Beltway fastness. It happened back in 2006:
But unlike the brutal fate of the revelers in Poe's story (spoiler alert!) --
And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.
-- the habitues of the Versailles on the Potomac remain completely unaffected by the experience.