Okay, first things first: I am, and have always been, a huge fan of Drag Ball. My second date with T took place at the '96 ball - she was the cutest little cowboy in all of America, and my outfit was to die for. I'd post a picture here but I'm not sure I want to see that plastered all over the web...
Lots of chatter on the interwebs today about what's going on. Yes, it seems that DB isn't happening this year. No, this doesn't necessarily mean that DB is gone forever.
To break it down, there are two groups of DB supporters: those who love DB, and those who love DB so much that they're willing to organize, plan, and execute it (like my old friend Hailey Laws, who can tell you a lot about sacrifice and what it takes to make DB happen). The latter camp is virtually non-existent these days, and therein lies our problem.
I wrote to my friend Linda Gates to get some history and context. Here is her response:
Drag Ball started as a party in Talcott in the early '90s and quickly outgrew that space. It moved to South in its second year, and because that was a residence hall, the space was also not appropriate for a party of that scale. The event then moved to the 'Sco and in the earlier years benefited from a lot of student interest in how it was planned, organized, and run.
Beginning around 2000, student organizational support diminished. Students were enthusiastic about attending the event, but the planning and execution fell to just a handful of students. Each year for nearly the last decade we have struggled with the two main problems that have led to this year's decision: lack of proper funding, and lack of organizational support.
Last year after DB, a number of us met several times with the two DB organizers (including this year's organizer) and we were very clear: if students did not charter the group, did not plan and organize the event in advance, and did not procure funding through procedures that all student organizations use to fund their activities, DB would be in jeopardy. When none of those things happened, those of us who participated in that discussion - including this year's sole student organizer - reached consensus that DB should be canceled for spring 2010.
DB has been an expensive enterprise and although ticket sales do pay for a significant percentage of the expenses, the event has required ad hoc support from SFC, Student Union Board, and Forum Board without which it could never have met its financial obligations.
What about the future? If student interest is such that the event can be planned well and far enough in advance, and if DB is chartered and can submit funding requests as required of other student organizations, DB could certainly happen next year and in subsequent years.
What about this year? I have been asked if there is going to be an event of similar magnitude that will take place in its stead, or if there is any replacement event at all. Some of the acts who had been considered by this year's single student organizer will perform in the 'Sco, but this will not be viewed as a related event. The student who serves as the spokesperson for DB planning this year has been very clear that she does not want this to be viewed as a replacement for the larger event.
Why has this decision been made? Although we are aware that a number of people will be disappointed and may attribute this decision to a number of incorrect factors, the reason the event is being canceled is 1) that there has not been enough student interest and participation in planning the event and 2) that it has grown to such an extent that without adequate advance planning and funding, it is not sustainable.
I'll add my additional two cents here - back in the day, DB was really about education, awareness, and support. I get the feeling that this has faded in recent years - that most (not all, but most) students now just think of it as a big campus party with some fun runway stuff to watch. I'm happy to be corrected here, if I am mistaken... but it would certainly explain the lack of enthusiasm for planning the thing.
Where does this leave us? It's really up to the students, I think - it always has been. Because DB has ALWAYS been a student-organized event. If the administration were to take over, you'd hate it (admit it).
So - is this going to be another example of people being happy to complain but unwilling to be part of the solution?
I hope not. Hint: it's never too early to start planning for next year.