Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Elaine Ezekiel, Staff Writer
Closing a week of protest and debate on K’s campus, Kaleidoscope’s annual Crystal Ball took place on Saturday night. Held for the first time in the Anderson Athletic Center due to fire code regulations, the dance hosted approximately 950 students who were asked to dress in “full-blown drag attire.” This year’s theme was “House of Drag,” drawing inspiration from the 1990 documentary “Paris is Burning” and the “voguing” dance style it portrayed.
The preceding Friday morning about fifty students, staff and faculty members gathered in Stetson Chapel to attend a community reflection about Crystal Ball and the meaning of drag led by members of Kaleidoscope and chaplain Liz Candido (K’00).
Craig Isser (K’13), who bought his gown for this year’s Crystal Ball at a market while on study abroad in China, wore rainbow-colored platform lace-up wedges. “Crystal Ball is something I take very seriously,” he said.
Elinor Epperson (K’13) read from an essay exploring Crystal Ball’s effect on campus culture. “I’m sure everyone here has heard the mantra, ‘Guys dress like girls; girls dress like sluts,’” she said, calling femininity more strictly defined in American society than masculinity. “We live in a time when women have fought hard to earn the right to wear pants, but men wearing skirts is considered abhorrent because that would mean that men are dressing like women.”
Candido recalled attending Crystal Ball as a student, when the dance was held for only about 30 drag-clad students in the President’s Lounge where Stacks is today. She went on to offer the campus advice about the protesters on campus condemning homosexuality. “The protester is here not to reason with you,” she said. “Don’t allow your anger or your emotions to amplify his voice.” Following the reflection attendees signed a poster with an inclusive religious message, which now hangs in Biggby.
Saturday night, students heeded Candido’s counsel. Security reported little conflict, though the protesters stationed themselves outside the dance entrance for part of the evening. Max Wedding (K’12) was pleased with both the students’ response and their attire during his fourth and final Crystal Ball. “We had guys walking in dresses, in drag, in front of those protesters and [they] treated them like, ‘We don’t want you here; go away. This is our event, this is our time,’” he said.”I was generally really proud of the way people handled themselves.”