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BRIEF: Smoke and mirrors envelop Western’s 32nd Annual Drag Show

Western’s concert hall expected to fill as performers take stage during Gaypril

A flyer for Western Washington University’s 32nd Annual Drag Show displays the event details. On Saturday, April 20, performers from local drag groups will portray the magic of drag. // Flyer courtesy of LGBTQ+ Western

Western Washington University’s 32nd Annual Drag Show is set to take place Saturday, April 20, in the Performing Arts Center at 7:00 p.m. The event is part of Western’s Gaypril celebration, which aims to educate students on how campus can be improved for the LGBTQ+ community.

Turnout for the event is usually high, according to show coordinator, Sol Vandeman. The drag show historically sells out Western’s Performing Arts Center concert hall, which seats 640 people.

“It’s always a really positive experience,” Vandeman said. “It’s literally the longest-running drag show in the state of Washington.”

This year’s theme is “Smoke and Mirrors: The Magic of Drag.” Performers will display what makes drag magical to them. The show will feature 14 drag artists with a mix of students and non-students performing. Individual performances will last between three and seven minutes, and audience participation may be included.

“When choosing our cast, we looked for artists who not only put on an entertaining performance, but also reflect and uplift their communities,” show Co-Coordinator Mars Sweeney said in a press release from April 5. “The diverse styles and artistic dedication exhibited from the cast will ensure this show has something for everybody.”

The drag show is coordinated by a small team, including Vandeman. They’re a three-year veteran performer of the show and bring more than five years of drag experience to the position.   

Vandeman explained that in the spirit of this year’s theme, the performers have been asked to answer the question: “what makes your drag magical?”

“I create characters and concepts that inspire, uplift and empower [the] community,” performer Dizzy Phoria said in the press release. “I make a lot of my costumes from elevating scrap to show that even if you don’t come from money, you can make something special.”

Vandeman also addressed the genesis of this year’s theme, saying that inspiration struck them while watching a recent episode of “Canada’s Drag Race.” In the episode, famous drag queen Brook Lynn Hytes declared that the world, now more than ever, needs the magic of drag.

“I want people to know that drag is magical. It inspires so many people, it evokes emotions [and] it tells a story,” Vandeman said.

The relevance of drag as an art form where boundaries are pushed, and self-expression and independence are encouraged, goes hand-in-hand with this year’s Gaypril theme: “Beyond Borders.” As described on Western’s Gaypril website, the theme was created to challenge preconceived notions of sexuality, gender, social status and other factors that are considered limiting to LQBTQ+ experiences.

“Drag in and of itself is a celebration of queerness, of femininity, of masculinity, of androgyny, of whatever,” Vandeman said. “And that I think in our society [it’s] really breaking barriers.”

For more information on Saturday’s event, readers can visit the Western Drag Show site.


Adam Rideout Redeker

Adam Rideout Redeker is a campus life reporter for the Front. He is a third-year student studying visual journalism and Spanish. In his free time, Adam enjoys listening to music, spending time outdoors and hosting a weekly radio show on KUGS. Adam can be reached at adamrideoutredeker.thefront@gmail.com.




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