This ball is one fire


Story by Rita Fay, Staff Writer

The city of Eau Claire must have been sold out of glitter, wigs, feather boas and fake eyelashes as local drag queens got ready for UW-Eau Claire’s second annual Fire Ball hosted by the Women’s and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Allied resource center.

Approximately 500 people squeezed into the Ojibwe Ballroom on Feb. 12 to see The Fire Ball, a drag show created last year in an effort to raise money for the LGBTQA Student Support Fund.

The fund gives scholarships to students who wish to attend conferences or immersion trips that would benefit the LGBTQA community. Admission to the event was a $5 donation.

Junior Skylar Schrofe had never been to a drag show before but thought it sounded fun.

“I loved it.” Schrofe said. “I loved all the energy. It was more than what I expected.”

The night included an opening dance number before the drag queens made their appearance. There was a cash bar with signature drinks for each one of the queens with names like Club le Coco and The Dee-Lusion.

The night was hosted by drag queen, Coco Latte. The performers included a number of drag queens with names like Miss Dee Lovely and Jem Stone. The queens were dressed in short, glitter dresses paired with size 12 platform pumps. There were a number of drag kings that made an appearance as well.

Senior Bryton Fredrick is an intern for the Women’s and LGBTQ Resource Center and has been preparing for the event since September. He said the actual number of people in attendance is unknown because they didn’t
sell tickets.

“It was more successful this year,” Fredrick said. “It was standing room only tonight. Last year it was standing room only, but this year we could also incorporate more people into the act and incorporate more people into the room.”

Audience members were allowed to stand next to the stage and give tips, allowing the performers to interact with audience members by giving handshakes, hugs and kisses to those donating.

The night’s performances included renditions of songs by Dolly Parton, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Britney Spears. One performance reenacted the last dance scene from the movie “Dirty Dancing”.

The star performer of the night was drag queen Latrice Royale, a contestant from the reality show, RuPaul’s Drag Race. Royale referred to the night as a coming home show because she lived in Eau Claire 20 years ago.
Senior Mark Quamme was one of the dancers in the show. He said a lot of students wonder how this show helps and he said it raises the visibility of the LGBTQ community.

“…especially in a community like Eau Claire, people think that gay people are this ostracized culture that no one knows about, when really you can see all kinds of people here … all ranges of people from all different sorts of places,” Quamme said. “I think this is a really good way to show that people are a lot more than just what you see at face value. That’s why I enjoy it so much.”

Although the night was meant for entertainment and a few laughs, Chris Jorgenson, director of the Women’s and LGBTQ Resource Center, came on stage to remind the audience of why the show was so important.

Jorgenson, not dressed in drag, did a cover of Alicia Keys’ song, “Girl is on Fire” while a slideshow played, which  educated the audience on the 1969 Stonewall riots which is considered one of the most important events leading to the gay liberation movement.

“Drag has a very specific place in the modern gay rights movement,” Jorgenson said to the audience. “Coco asked me a couple weeks ago, ‘Do you consider yourself an activist?’ and I didn’t know, I’ve never been asked that question before. I think it’s different for everybody how you define that word. But when I think about it, I think of the past and all of the people who have sacrificed tremendously so that people like me could work at a university like this and draw wonderful people like you in to help.”