Spring drag show takes over Demarest Hall
“Lip-synching, hip-swinging, norm-flinging and singing,” were all encouraged for participants at the spring drag show at Demarest Hall. The event was free and open to all Rutgers students. The show will include people in and out of drag, but most of the performances will be in drag, said Alexander Bowers, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore and the organizer of the drag show.
Generally, performers are either lip-synching or singing along and dancing, he said. The drag show has been a traditional event that has been a long lasting part of the Demarest building's history, he said.
“I'd want students to take away how arbitrary the concept of gender roles are,” Bowers said.
Drag is a form of exaggerating and playing off of the constructs of gender that normally constrains society.
“It's fun but behind it is a really powerful narrative of, ‘look at these norms in a different way and how nonsensical they really are when shown through this light,’” he said.
It was one fierce and fabulous night at Demarest Hall on Thursday night, one that would even make RuPaul proud. The lights were out, the strobes were on and the high-heels were sharpened to perfection as the annual Demarest Hall drag show popped off without a hitch.
As soon as you entered the room fun and friendly smiles greeted you as music from all different decades seemed to welcome you into a wonderland of drag. Kings and queens of the art dressed to the nines as the atmosphere screamed "be yourself", and "live your life" exactly how you want to live it. The air seemed to ooze comfort and acceptance, as this Rutgers event truly showed what unity is all about in the eyes of your fellow man or woman.
It was my first time attending the drag show — once I heard about the show, I knew this was the event I was born to attend. As I entered the room, I truly felt like I was entering a world that felt like it only existed in sitcom shows or simply just in my dreams. Laughter and smiles immediately greeted me, and I automatically caught the dancing bug. I jiggied my way through the crowd and ended up dancing with a few drag queens and a king.
The crowd wasn’t only full of those who chose to dress up for the event, but was also full of students just enjoying the night with friends and there to support their fellow Rutgers students who were performing. Even though most of us were strangers, it felt as if I had known these friendly faces forever. It truly felt as if I wasn’t at an event that said, “Welcome to the show,” but one that screamed, “Welcome home.”
Sam Nitting, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, also spoke about the welcoming environment at Demarest Hall that night.
“The atmosphere of the room was so upbeat and fun, and once I walked in I immediately felt welcomed and accepted,” Nitting said.
It truly was a family affair, they all truly felt like a functioning, loving family. That general feeling of welcomeness and familial love was so infectious it even got this young journalist into the spirit of the event.
The performers, full of both drag queen and kings, were professionally dressed for the night, with wigs that would make Lady Gaga blush with jealousy. I spoke with one performer who was a true veteran of the event. Performer Jess Kandi, a School of Engineering senior, has been performing in the drag shows for a few years now.
“I’ve been performing here since my sophomore year, and it’s been two years for me doing this," Kandi said. "It’s always such great fun, and honestly the event is just about having fun, and really being free and who you are.”
Kandi told me that three outfits were made for the event alone, and when we spoke the second outfit of the night was already in full swing. The host of the night was also in full swing as he got the audience roaring with laughter, and joining in on the fun as he performed “It's Raining Men” that included appearances by a few audience members.
Another great little bonus of the night was the mini bonfire, with s'mores that greeted you as you left the building. If anyone ever wants to bribe this critic, just throw a few marshmallows at me and you are guaranteed a five star rating.
This won’t be the last drag event this journalist attends at the famous Demarest Hall. While I may have left the event a little less glam than I came, with sweat and disheveled hair included, it was for sure one of the best nights of my Rutgers career.