Image Courtesy of James William and The Dance Place

By Lily Chambers 

Phenomenal, show-stopping, and jaw-dropping are the only ways I can describe BlackLight Summit: afterGlow, a drag show and panel put on by The Dance Place DC. 

The night started out with a panel called “Last Night, the DJ Saved My Life,” about caretakers in the LGBTQ+ community: who they are and what roles they play. It also touched on the subject of who are the ones taking care of these caretakers in the community. The main topic of discussion during the panel was how and why the LGBTQ+ community sees performers, DJs, bartenders, and club owners as caretakers. Many queer people find their safe spaces at these events and that safety is crafted by the people working and performing there. 

Another topic was how to take a moment to appreciate and care for the people who take care of everyone else because they may become burnt out and unable to provide those safe spaces for those around them. Parts of the LGBTQ+ community are unable to be out and loud about who they are due to the situation they are in, whether it be home, work, or school. These safe spaces give the LGBTQ+ community a place where they no longer have to hide that part of them anymore. It is where people form friendships and relationships with each other without worry of judgment from others. Without these places and the people who keep them running, the LGBTQ+ community would not be where it is today and we owe many thanks to those who assume the role of caretaker. It is a very difficult but necessary role for a person to take on. 

After the panel, the show itself started, consisting of performances from six different drag performers including Pussy Noir, Aisha Noir, The Bumper, Blaq Dinamyte, Stealya-Manz Blue, and King Molasses. The show was MC’d by the fabulous Pussy Noir creator of the House of Noir

Each performer had two different sets showcasing their dancing, lip-syncing, and comedy skills in certain sets as well as their talent for makeup, costume design, and sewing skills. The performers had their own unique styles that really showed throughout each of their individual and unique performances, whether in the slower and more thought-provoking acts that related to Black History Month, or more traditional upbeat pop songs and drag acts. All of the performers absolutely excelled at each aspect of their sets with elements of burlesque and pole techniques worked in throughout the show. 

The show itself was produced by the House of Bambi and was part of a three-day event called After Glow, as well as partnering with the SMYAL organization.  SMYAL stands for Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders and is an organization that helps LGBTQ+ youth gain all the tools they need for success in life, including educational help and programs to help teach them about leadership skills and empowerment. Two representatives from SMYAL talked about their organization and upcoming events for them for later in the year during the intermission. The overall experience of the show was absolutely amazing. Every performer was professional, talented, and mesmerizing. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my Saturday night than at this performance.

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