On the Wednesday evening of Freshers’ Week, Sussex students new and old will be treated to an exciting evening of dancing and performance with the university’s very own Drag Society. Notably the first official university Drag Society in the country, the group formed earlier this year, made waves with a sell-out grand opening show back in February and picked up the Sussex Student Award for Best New Society 2017. They return this academic year with a full committee of enthusiastic artists who form the drag family, The Haunted Haus.
On 20 September, the society will be staging a takeover of beloved on-campus bar East Slope, and with free entry the event is expected to be one of the biggest and wildest nights of the Freshers’ calendar.
Drag artist and committee member Spike Parker says “The East Slope Takeover is going to be BIG! It’s our first show back and we’re back with a vengeance. Expect Kings, Queens and anything in between serving sass, sex and synthetic wigs. It’s going to be unmissable.”
Spike came to the society with no experience of performing drag before, although he knew a lot about it and was excited to get involved, having been introduced to it through RuPaul’s Drag Race and, as he describes it, “falling deeper down the rabbit hole of drag” from there. He stresses now though that Drag Race is certainly not the only sort of drag out there, and perhaps not the most important either.
Take the society’s Events Officer and fellow performer, Grace Keppel, who performs as a man, making her a Drag King. Discussing the common misconception (and historical trend) that drag is only ever about men dressing up as women, Grace comments “like most other things, women couldn’t do things until men had done them first. Drag Queens in the mainstream media, and their sometimes sexist vocabulary (e.g. the use of the word “fishy” and constantly referring to each other as “bitch”) has made Drag Kings rise up and show their art as one with skill, energy and passion just as much – or even more – as Drag Queens! This makes Drag Kings very political, and they use the space to discuss important issues like transphobia.”
The Takeover will be a more informal and relaxed affair than previous DragSoc events with a chance to grab a drink, meet new people and show your moves on the dancefloor. DragSoc are keen to stress that it is by no means an exclusive affair: people from all backgrounds, genders and sexualities are encouraged to check it out, and if they fancy it, get involved. Although many drag artists are LGBTQ+, you do not have to be part of that community to take part.
In addition to fantastic DJ’s playing iconic gay anthems, and enough glitter to last us until Christmas, the committee and drag collective Haunted Haus will be putting on a group performance which promises to be an ideal introduction to the society for drag super-fans and newbies alike.
This is a one off event taking place on the evening of Wednesday 20 September at East Slope Bar, from 8pm til 2am. Entry is free.
Featured Image: A J Hutchinson