Editor's note: The Front's public editor, Sol Vandeman, is co-president of the Royal Gambit Drag Club. Vandeman did not play a role in editing this story.
This year, Halloween in Bellingham will feature more than just trick or treating and haunted houses.
Western Washington University’s drag club, Royal Gambit, will be hosting an 18+ “night of slays, gays and spooks.”
As advertised on their flyers, The Bitching Hour, their first show of the year, is set to take place at the Underground Coffeehouse on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m.
The club’s Halloween show was at full capacity last year, and has reached 150 RSVPs this year, with the club predicting a full house once again.
The Royal Gambit Drag Club started last fall to fill a void for queer youth who weren’t able to be involved with the 21+ drag scene outside of Western, said Michael Sherwood, the club’s budget coordinator.
“We definitely take pride in the fact that we are one of those spaces where under 21-year-old performers can develop their skills and be ready to enter the mainstage,” said Sherwood, who performs drag under the name Addy HD.
A senior at Western, Lark Pascual, has experience performing drag all over the Pacific Northwest, from Seattle to Portland. Pascual, who performs under the name Feather Fatale, emphasized the importance of what Royal Gambit is doing.
“The Blue Room, Make.Shift and Royal Gambit Drag Club are all just great examples of being like, ‘Hey, there's this whole niche of people who are not being considered and not being factored [into queer spaces],’” he said.
The club urges those who are new to the art form to join and discover the possibilities of what they are capable of, said Sherwood.
“We encourage absolute bare bones, never tried drag before, type of students to come and participate with us,” said Sherwood. “Several, almost all of our performers, started performing in drag [for the first time] at this club.”
Eden Harris, a second-year sociology student, is one of those performers.
Getting his start with the club last spring, Harris has since performed in two shows with Royal Gambit under the stage name Karnival.
He admires how accepting and diverse Bellingham’s drag community is, adding, “It's less about being a drag queen or king, and more about being a 'drag thing.'"
One-third of the performers in The Bitching Hour are new to drag as of this year.
While the national drag community has faced legislative attacks throughout the past year, drag is still thriving in Bellingham.
“It’s my favorite drag community. It's genuinely so accepting, so loving, so inclusive, so diverse,” said Sherwood. “If you think of your idea of typical drag, Bellingham is not it, and that is what I love about it.”
Sherwood also described the local scene as alternative and trans-inclusive, emphasizing they only know a few drag artists in town who don’t identify somewhere on the transgender spectrum.
The Bitching Hour consists of 15 acts and will be full of comedy, music, stunts and all forms of drag and self-expression.
“The ‘wow-factor’ in the show will be the performers’ passion for the art,” said Sherwood. “The show as an entity will be the ‘wow.’”
While the RSVP list is full, doors open at 6 p.m. and it is anticipated that there may be a line to get a chance to see the show, same as last year.
“Our main hope is to foster a community of queer individuals. We really just want to create a family and have fun,” said Sherwood. “We acknowledge that drag may or may not save the world — place your bets now, ladies and gentlemen — we just want to have fun and bring love and light into everybody's life.”
Kenna Peterson (she/her) is a campus news reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a third-year journalism pre-major. When she isn't on campus or at work, she can be found hanging out with her cat, Rigatoni, watching horror movies with her roommates or drinking a London fog.
You can contact her at email@example.com.