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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

Organizations and student performers collaborate to host Annual Ballroom Extravaganza

Students+and+campus+organizations+collaborate+to+put+on+the+Annual+Ballroom+Extravaganza.+The+event+allows+student+performers+to+unleash+their+creativity+in+the+form+of+drag+and+ballroom+culture.
Sofia Palacios / Hilltop Views
Students and campus organizations collaborate to put on the Annual Ballroom Extravaganza. The event allows student performers to unleash their creativity in the form of drag and ballroom culture.

On March 20, SEU Pride, Trans Wellness Organization and other student coordinators and performers came together to host the St. Edward’s Ballroom Extravaganza in Mabee Ballroom. The event showcased a variety of student performers who displayed creative talents to show their own contribution to the art of drag and ballroom culture.

The event, which has been held on campus annually for over six years, recently underwent a name change. This year, instead of being called the drag show, it was referred to as a “ballroom extravaganza.” Despite this change, judges, performers and attendees brought welcoming energy and spirits alongside support from their peers.

The show was emceed by Associate Professor Alexendra Barron, who also serves as the faculty advisor for SEU Pride and the Trans Wellness Organization. Throughout the show, Barron introduced each act to the audience and also gave a brief overview of the history of drag, ballroom culture and the show itself on campus.

To begin, Barron introduced the four students that were to serve as judges of the show. Kris Feck, Logan Counce, Christine Stewart and Zach Benoit each had their own introduction as judges before the show began.

This was sophomore Kris Feck’s second year attending the show, but it was their first year judging. Feck, a committee member for the Trans Wellness Organization, explained that their hands-on involvement in putting the show together led them to decide to be a judge.

“I was very much already into the planning, choosing the performers, making the playlist,” Feck said. “I was already deep in it so I just thought it would be fun to judge.”

Seven acts made an appearance at the show. The list of performers included: Neura Toxin, Otter, Dorian Gay, Ophelia Drowns, Lady Liberty, Jack the Stripper and the debut of drag group, House of Folklorica. Each performance was unique, containing a variety of personalities, song choices and costumes.

Neura Toxin’s performance dazzled the audience as she strutted across the floor.

Neura Toxin opened the show with the song “Venus” by Bananarama, serving the crowd with an infectious amount of moxie and confidence. To Neura Toxin, drag is a means of expression and being able to be creative comfortably.

“It’s a way for me to channel what I love about visual art and performance,” Neura Toxin said. “But also getting to put my personality on display.”

Drag Queen Lady Liberty performed to songs by Christina Aguilera and wore a vibrant purple, zebra print two-piece gown, in which she dramatically removed the skirt to reveal a black bodysuit with fringe mid-performance, stunning the crowd. Her stage name is inspired by Lady Gaga.

“I wanted to make sure I gave a nod to Mother Monster herself,” Lady Liberty said. “Then ‘Liberty’ because drag is liberating and inherently political since its creation is going against society’s expectations for joy, laughter, and entertainment.” 

Each act was special in the sense of originality. The acts featured different elements and themes. The performances brought goth, Victorian and even a Japanese personality, Hatsune Miku, to the ballroom. 

“The amount of diverse entertainers at the Ballroom extravaganza was beautiful,” Lady Liberty said.

A new trio, House of Folklorica, was the last official performance of the night, providing infectious energy with their dance moves and colorful costumes inspired by Ballet Folklorico.

House of Folklorica makes their debut as a drag trio.

“People just can do so many different things with drag,” Feck said. “Like House of Folklorica, they took a lot of traditional folk dance and brought it into the show, and that’s just wonderful.”

The show also served as a competition, giving performers the opportunity to give their all for a chance to win one of the four prize titles, including best makeup, best outfit, judges’ favorite and audience favorite. Students were also given the chance to partake in voting using a website and code that was provided during voting time.

Best makeup was awarded to Jack the Stripper, best costume to Neura Toxin, judge favorite to Lady Liberty, and House of Folklorica took home crowd favorite. 

Lady Liberty expressed gratitude and appreciation for being able to perform and winning the title of judges’ favorite.

“Hearing the audience members clapping and cheering me on was a feeling that is truly unexplainable,” she said. “Towards the end of the performance I felt so much joy and fulfilled; I wanted to cry but I held it together.”

Sophomore Mariana Forero, committee member for the Ballroom Extravaganza, expresses how important these events are for the visibility of LGBTQ+ students at St. Edward’s and in Texas.

“This school is known for having a large LGBTQ community,” Forero said. “And more and more now than ever, it’s important to listen to queer voices and have queer spaces where students can truly express themselves.”

Though all acts were each different in their own unique way, performers, judges and audience all embraced the same love, connection and appreciation for drag and ballroom culture throughout the entirety of the show. 

“Drag is visibility, drag is a part of our history,” Lady Liberty said. “LGBTQIA+ will never disappear, because we are here to stay bold and break social norms.”

Each act was different from the other, allowing students to show their own originality and uniqueness. From costumes to stage presence to song choice, they each had a special way of making drag their own. (Sofia Palacios / Hilltop Views)
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Zemira Recio, Staff Writer
Zemira is a freshman and this is her first year being a Staff Writer for Hilltop Views. She is a political science major and aspires to become a lawyer someday. When she's not writing or doing schoolwork, her favorite past times are reading and painting.

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