Drag show introduces students to queer culture


Jordan Rusche, Lifestyles Editor (She/her)

The Residence Hall Program Committee hosted a night of song, dance and drag in the Volstroff Ballroom April 7.

Sponsored by groups like the Gender and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) and Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), the drag show was part of RHPC’s “Back in Da Club” event series, both to offer more entertainment to students and to help OMA with some of their scheduled events.

“We knew that (Florencio Aranda) was gone, and they don’t have a director of OMA, or they just have an acting director, so we asked if our committee could jump in and help them out,” said Brian Dominguez, one of the coordinators for RHPC and the organizer of the drag show.

Dominguez and Bailey Biegler, the president of GSA, were both impressed by the event’s turnout. According to Dominguez, about 60 people signed up for the event ahead of time and over 100 arrived in person, with another 15 online.

“We almost filled the room,” Biegler said. “Brian’s group did a good job putting up posters and getting the word out.”

Those in attendance, like interior design major Chloé Speas, expressed their enjoyment of the event and hoped the school would continue to sponsor events like it.

“I thought this event was a really fun way to liven up the end of the semester,” Speas said. “It was really energetic and really respectful but a fun way to have a party.”

One of the performers, who goes by the stage name Domita Sanchez, said she enjoys performing for younger audiences who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend shows.

“This is my third or fourth college event, and I think it’s just great to bring drag and entertainment into the college setting because we usually perform in bars and those places, and those are only 21+,” she said.

Biegler said drag shows held by South Dakota State University are generally well received by students and the Brookings community.

“Everybody enjoys the drag shows that we have,” she said. “It’s a very popular event, and that is typically our big event for the year.”

GSA has put on their own drag shows in the past, usually with the support of OMA. This year is the first time a drag show has been hosted by a group other than GSA.

Biegler said she and other members of GSA were nervous at first to do the show during the pandemic, as the nature of the show made it challenging to minimize spread. However, Biegler thinks RHPC, the performers and those in attendance followed protocols well by wearing masks and face shields and following capacity guidelines.

“While people were nervous, and I was nervous as well regarding everything being COVID-19 safe, I went in knowing the people who put this together … they are COVID-conscious as well,” she said.

Hosting drag shows on campus does more than provide entertainment, however. Dominguez said events like the drag show allow students to be themselves without feeling their identity is being confronted or threatened.

“It’s a mindless type of event where you can go and feel celebrated and celebrate some queer culture and learn about queer culture,” he said.

Biegler also thinks the drag shows on campus allow students a chance to experience and interact with something new.

“A lot of people who first come to college, especially that live in South Dakota, have never experienced a drag show before,” she said. “It’s this experience that you hear about, but you’ve never seen it … so it’s really important that we have those events on campus so that people who haven’t experienced that before, whether they are a part of the LGBTQ+ community or not, going to a drag show is something you need to experience.”

Mikko Blaze, another performer at the show, agreed that having drag shows on college campuses allows students to learn about other groups of people.

“It builds community first of all, but it’s also an opportunity for people to get exposure to different types of lifestyles,” he said. “At the end of the day, doing drag is all love and it’s all about expression.”

RHPC plans to finish out the “Back in Da Club” series with Dark Roast Comedy Coffee House with Brent Pella at 7:30 p.m., April 14 in the Hobo Hangout in Pierson Hall, followed by Mentalist Sean Bott performing at 7:15 p.m., April 30 in the Volstroff Ballroom.

Though GSA doesn’t have any more events planned this year, Biegler said with the approval of October as LGBTQ History Month last semester, the organization has begun discussing possible events to tie into the celebration next fall.

“We would probably plan our drag show to be around then,” she said. “I know there were ideas being shot around for hiring speakers, because they are really popular in the Multicultural Center.”