The Hub heated up last Thursday as a procession of drag queens took the stage during the Queer Student Union’s second annual “Winter Wonder Drag” show.
Hosted by drag queen Avery Daniels (otherwise known as third-year psychology major Nick Newton), the show began at 9 p.m. and brought audience members two hours of high-energy performances. The drag queens also danced on stage and in the aisles and allowed for performer-audience interaction, as audience members were able to dance along with the drag queens offstage and could throw dollar bills upon the performers when they were on stage.
Furthermore, Daniels invited audience members on stage to “release their inner drag” in what was called “The Diva Games,” which pitted audience members against each other in a dance-off. Second-year sociology major Mick Castro, for example, was one of the final audience dancers on stage, chosen to split a tiara à la Mean Girls.
“I actually went up on stage last year, so I wanted to give some other people a chance, but then I heard applause,” Castro said. “I had to go on.”
According to Chris Buck, Event Coordinator for the show, proceeds from “Winter Wonder Drag” will fund the QSU’s annual trip to the Western Regional LGBTQIA Conference. This year, Buck said, the conference will be held at the University of the Pacific and will feature speakers and workshops that encourage discussion amongst LGBTQIA students from many different college campuses.
“It’s just a space to expand queer ideas and queer conversation,” Buck said.
Buck said he hopes the conference will create a sense of unity between members of not just the LGBTQIA community at UCSB, but all LGBTQIA community members as a whole.
“I want to develop my skills as a queer leader, and I want to expose a lot of the new people who have never been to a queer conference before to what the queer community is like and how UCSB compares to other schools and how a lot of times we share the same issues,” Buck said.
According to Daniels, however, for many participants in last night’s show, performing was about more than just dancing or raising money to attend the conference. It was about acceptance, Daniels said, about expressing themselves through a form of art that is often marginalized. Daniels said that in the beginning, she herself did not understand the meaning of drag as a subculture.
“I was just like other people,” Daniels said. “I didn’t really ‘get’ drag. It was kind of weird for me; I couldn’t really wrap my mind around it.”
Daniels said that upon trying drag, however, she realized she could not get enough of it.
“It was just downhill from there,” Daniels said. “One thing I love to do when I’m dressed up as Avery Daniels is just to touch people and make them feel beautiful and feel loved, even if it’s just for one second.”