Experiences

Five Things I Learned at Drag Bingo

On Friday, September 18 I attended Drag Bingo in the Hughes-Trigg Ballroom, hosted by Spectrum. I had never attended such an event, and seeing as college is all about new experiences, I decided I had nothing to lose. I went, and found it to be quite an enlightening experience, not to mention extremely fun. I have compiled a brief list of my revelations:

  1. Don’t pretend like it’s not funny. Bingo began, and the host, Cassie Nova, lit into the audience with a stream of raunchy jokes. To say that she made me blush would be a gross understatement. After her first bit, I wanted to sink into my chair and pretend like I hadn’t shown up. I won’t repeat what Cassie said, because chances are you are reading this in public, but I’ll give you this: imagine if Sacha Baron Cohen and Sarah Silverman had a baby that grew up to wear a large wig, blue eye shadow, and sequins, and had the voice of James Earl Jones. The person I have just described should give you a ballpark sketch of the drag queen in question. Yet, after what first felt like an assault on the very fabric of morality, I found myself unable to fight back a chuckle. Then a laugh. Then a cackle. For Cassie, nothing was off limits, and with a little time, I became okay with it. I laughed, and I lived to tell the story. Which leads me to my next point.

  2. Sometimes, being uncomfortable is okay. I think we should try this more often. When you’re uncomfortable, you are shown the limits to your personality. Being in a situation that is a little foreign, or makes you a bit squeamish, forces you to realize that you are in a box. This box might be grandpa conservative, left wing radical, artsy-fartsy, or cardboard. It’s not a matter of being in a box or not, but rather what box you are inevitably in. And this isn’t always a bad thing; really cool gifts often come in boxes. But awareness that you subscribe to some kind of ideology, or uphold some sort of cultural construct, is an important thing to have. Intentionally putting yourself in uncomfortable situations is a great way to gain this type of mindfulness.

  3. There’s more than one way to be a drag queen. I don’t really know what I thought a drag show would be like before I attended this event, but afterwards I realized that this had blown away the assumptions I didn’t even know I had made. Some of the ladies did comedy, others danced, and almost all of them lip-synced. Some wore pumps, a few sported plunging necklines, and one in particular threw on her old lady tennis shoes. These distinctions might seem superficial, but they showed how each performer brought individuality to the stage. Some stereotypes were validated, others were thrown out the window, but at the end of the night, it wasn’t about being right or wrong. Everyone had something special to offer.

  4. Don’t forget to tip. You might not realize there is etiquette to these kinds of events, but there is. So pay attention. In between each round of bingo, the performers would lip-sync to songs and dance their way around the room. If you wanted a little special attention, all you had to do was hold up a few dollars and someone would come your way (it sounds questionable… just go with it). In all my ignorance, I hadn’t known to bring any cash and I felt like a real fool. Moral of the story: do a little research before you attend an event. It will pay off in the end.

  5. Listen carefully and watch your card. Don’t forget, first and foremost, that this is a game of bingo. Sometimes I lost focus on the numbers being called because I was laughing so hard at Cassie Nova. Other times, I was busy chowing down on free Cane’s or jamming out to the DJ’s tracks. Bottom line, this experience was an exercise in sensory overload, and I learned that finding a balance between enjoyment and focus is key. If you can learn to do that, I think you can win just about any game you choose to play—especially one like Drag Bingo.

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