Following heavy snowfall just three days prior, Bruins gathered at the Alder Amphitheater under clear weather April 7 for what was Salt Lake Community College’s first event of its kind: a student association-organized drag show.
“[With a] show of hands, for who here is this your first drag show?” event organizer Lani Pati asked the audience at the top of the show. About half of those in attendance, ranging from teenagers to older adults, raised their hands.
“Amazing,” Pati excitedly gasped in response. “Welcome, welcome.”
Alongside Pati on stage stood school employees Peter Moosman, Ryan Thoroman and Leka Heimuli – the four of whom had been planning the show since November in collaboration with the school’s student association, Thayne Center, queer employee and student associations, and the Gender and Sexuality Student Resource Center.
As the first performer, 21-year-old Hoe Shi Minh, appeared on stage, donning a silver-pink outfit while dancing to Dua Lipa’s “Let’s Get Physical,” the crowd’s clapping and cheer sprung immediately.
In addition to performing, Hoe Shi Minh acted as host for the show and introduced the other queens – Sequoia, Tamara Knight, Vu Paris, Mari Cona and headliner Adore Delano, a former contestant of the competition series “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
Two sign language interpreters were also present to sign all song lyrics as well as any comments made by presenters and performers.
The two-hour show, consisting of 15 separate performance numbers and changing outfits, ran into the night. A portion of the audience eventually left their seating on the bleachers to watch from just below the stage, taking pictures and video within arm’s length of the performers.
“The outfits, makeup, performance, everything – it was amazing,” remarked Lorelei Rentmeister, a University of Utah student who tagged along with friend Gabriel Ross, a SLCC student. For him and Rentmeister, as well as a third friend who also attends the U., the April 7 show was their first time attending a drag event.
According to Pati, who serves within the Thayne Center as coordinator for student programming, the purpose of the show was to provide a unique and possibly novel experience for students – akin to that of Ross and his friends.
“It’s a huge win for us and a big part of why we do these events,” Pati said, “for that student experience, and [to help] elevate that for everyone.”