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Staying true to their semi-annual tradition, Demarest Hall hosted its ever-popular "Fall 2017 Drag Show" on Thursday night.
While the event traditionally offers a creative platform for the LGBTQIA community at Rutgers, guests of all genders and sexualities were welcome to attend and perform.
Demarest Hall is a living-learning residence hall on the College Avenue campus that prides itself for establishing a warm, welcoming community and encourages full self-expression. Unique for its special interest sections ranging from performing arts to music appreciation, Demarest is one of the most diverse and progressive residence halls on campus. Connor Hollis, a School of Education graduate student and the show’s fourth-time host, credits the Demarest "Drag Show" for inspiring him, as his first time hosting the show was also his first time dressing and performing in drag. Because the residence hall is an open space where students are regularly encouraged to express themselves, Hollis believes that Demarest is the most natural environment for a drag show at Rutgers to take place.
“Demarest is a community where people of different backgrounds come together by willingly deciding to be trapped in close quarters, and the discussion group system that is inherent to the building creates a bubbling public forum,” Hollis said of the special interest sections that define Demarest. “Demarest itself is a strange and wondrous place where anything is possible, so I think that this is the only place that a drag show could happen.”
Hollis said the best part about this semester’s show is that it was all about the students. At last semester’s show, a diverse number of performers took to the stage, ranging from Rutgers students to local artists like the eccentric pianist Will Wood. This time, the show focused solely on the Rutgers community.
“We’re taking the show back to its roots this semester,” said Aidan Cushing, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year and the section leader for Sex, Sexuality and Gender at Demarest Hall. “Last semester’s performance by the lovely and talented Will Wood brought in a new era of drag culture here at Demarest, and this fall it’s back to basics. Interactive songs and performers new and old will flood the runway.”
As expected, the show generated a large, vibrant turnout. The show is historically the most popular event hosted at Demarest, with last year’s show attracting almost 200 attendees.
Clad in cut-off denim shorts and thigh-high patent leather boots, Hollis warmed up the crowd with his own lip-synced rendition of Demi Lovato’s summer hit “Sorry Not Sorry,” as well as Rihanna’s sultry classic “S&M.”
While the line-up was fabulous and diverse, the night was truly about the students in the audience as they set the energy and tone for the night.
Students who didn’t plan to perform were prompted to freestyle, dance battle and lip sync on stage, and the drag queens, kings and other performers were met with encouragement and pride.
The "Drag Show" was a first for School of Arts and Sciences first-year Sydney Rosen, a drag fanatic who usually watches drag queens and kings from afar. This time, she came to the show wanting to know more about an art she admires.
“I really love everything that has to do with queer culture, and when I got to Rutgers, I immediately wanted to get involved with the LGBTQ community,” Rosen said, crediting Demarest as one of the best places to do so. “This show actually inspired me to dress and perform in drag in next semester’s show.”
Although every performer wowed the crowd with their own unique dances and extravagant outfits, it was drag queen Magnifeast who stole the show with her distinct outfit changes and entertaining executions of classics like “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes and more recent hits, such as “Work from Home” by girl group Fifth Harmony.
An eventful night full of death drops and spins took an intimate, romantic turn when regular Demarest "Drag Show" attendee Tanya Murphy took to the stage to propose to her girlfriend of one year. Followed by a heart-warming slow dance that everyone could join in on, the proposal was undoubtedly the most memorable moment of the night.
In true Demarest fashion, the night was full of creativity, emotion and of course, dancing, and the residence hall’s "Drag Show" was a perfect example of how a big university like Rutgers can still feel like a small, supportive community.