This year's "Dragagonza: Night of the Living Stars" took place in the Pause last Saturday. It featured live DJs and lip-syncing performances by four professional drag queens, including Derek Pierce '06, who helped Diversity Celebrations Committee Coordinator Jennifer Ho '06 organize the event.
Ho said she enjoyed coordinating the dance, which she called "spicy" and "kind of racy," noting that it is important because it opens people up and is out of the norm.
In the spirit of the evening, I stuffed my out-of-shape figure into an old polka-dot dress belonging to my petite girlfriend and joined a few friends to get tarted up. While they brushed wigs and adjusted basketball shorts (You want them to sag more?), we traded thoughts about the significance of the ball.
Drag ball is an opportunity to break away from everyday gender stereotypes, Jacob Fitzpatrick '07 said, adding that this does not necessarily require dressing up as the opposite gender.
Another friend waxed philosophic about the liberating effect of the ball.
If you look at it as a postmodern thing, it's breaking down binary oppositions. The [opposition] doesn't have to be in male and female, it could be in something you are not, he said. For example, some girls will dress up as slutty girls. It's about breaking out of the box.
The crowd at the dance seemed to reflect that free-spirited attitude, as wardrobes ranged from casual unisex wear to full drag costumes. The attendees, who Ho estimated to exceed 300, were a mixture of students of every sexual orientation. Everyone seemed to enjoy experiencing a side of St. Olaf that is rarely seen.
The fact that a school like St. Olaf can [host a drag ball] shows that we really aren't all that straight-edge after all, one anonymous female student said.
Another satirized the school's religious affiliation, According to Deuteronomy 22:5, we are not supposed to have this. We are all going to hell Sorry, God!
For some students, the drag ball gave insight into the lives of the opposite sex.
Guys get to figure out why girls take so long to get dressed, Tito Foster '08 said. It took me like an hour. I normally take ten minutes, if that. That's including the shower. The two-minute shower."
For others it was more about insight into oneself.
"Drag ball to me means dressing up like a woman and going out and feeling what I want to feel, as opposed to what I'm supposed to feel," Mitch Ebert '09 said.
Two of the night's highlights were the drag king and queen contests in which the crowd chose the best woman dressed as a man and best man dressed as a woman from a group pulled out of the audience by the hosts. The winners were Sarah Burgin '06 dressed as James Dean and Alan Naylor '07 as Marilyn Monroe. Burgin said she "studied a lot of James Dean pictures" to make her costume authentic, while Naylor drew inspiration from "the famous vent picture" of Monroe.
Both received candy g-strings as a prize, which Naylor's roommate Michael Burrows '07 assured me will be on display in their room for anyone who wishes to view a relic from the salacious night.