Those in search of an interesting start to their weekend can look no farther than Freeborn Hall and the brothers of Delta Lambda Phi.
The gay, bisexual and progressive interest fraternity on campus will be hosting its 19th annual “Davis is Burning” today at 8 p.m. – a highly anticipated drag show and competition featuring the Delta Lambda Phi brothers and a host of other performers.
Davis is Burning is one of the fraternity’s biggest events and a tradition that dates back to when the fraternity first arrived at UC Davis, said Beck Wehrle, vice president of Delta Lambda Phi and primary organizer for this year’s event.
“Nobody knows for sure how Davis is Burning got started,” he said. “But the story goes that it began as a small drag show in a church basement 19 years ago. I’ve heard stories of people in drag running between buildings so as not to be seen. Obviously it was very different than the event we have today.“
The event has since grown into a UC Davis fixture continues to draw large crowds. This year’s attendees can expect the same level of entertainment, along with some very exciting improvements, Wehrle said.
“The show has always been put on at the Veterans Memorial Center,” he said. “However, this year we are hosting the event on campus for the very first time. In the past we have had to turn people away due to lack of space, but this year we are really looking forward to opening it up to the campus community and making it more accessible. It is also really nice to get the validation for the [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community.“
Holding the event at Freeborn Hall provides other perks, including the ability to introduce a video component in the show, Wehrle said.
In addition to performances by various brothers, audience members will also be treated to a “gender-bending” show from the ladies of Lambda Delta Lambda, sister sorority to Delta Lambda Phi.
“We have performed at Davis is Burning before, and it’s always been a fun experience,” said Francesca Sapien, president of Delta Lambda Phi. “The sorority is performing the “Men in Tights” routine from Mel Brook’s classic lampoon, Robin Hood: Men in Tights. The song is perfect for us because it pokes fun at the traditional expectations of masculinity and gender. We wanted to do something campy and hilarious.… We will leave the glam up to Delta Lambda Phi.“
Davis is Burning will also feature returning performances from Sacramento’s drag troupe “Kings of Drag,” as well as drag queen ‘Taryn Thru-u,‘ who also hails from Sacramento.
“Last year, Taryn Thru-u had the audience rolling around laughing,” said Arbel Bedak, a member of Delta Lambda Phi. “She comes out and does a couple acts. She has this one really obscene and outrageous character of ‘Granny‘ and it’s absolutely hilarious.“
Band Uh! will also be dressed in drag while they welcome guests at the front, said Bedak, who is also a Band-Uh! member.
“I know for a fact that Band-Uh! members are really excited about appearing at this year’s event and dressing up,” he said. “It is going to be a lot of fun.“
The majority of tonight’s performances will consist of different dance routines, but will also showcase some singing and other entertainment, Wehrle said.
“Everything on stage will feature different ways of playing with gender,” he said. “It is all pretty theatrical.“
While particpating in the drag element is not a requirement, attendees are encouraged to dress up. Wehrle said one of his favorite parts of the night is seeing all the audience members become a part of the show.
“There are some amazing costumes,” he said. “We see everything from a person with a simple necktie to somebody who spent hours putting every hair in place. It’s just so much fun.“
Sapien believes the average student is attracted the “lure of the forbidden” in a drag show.
“Davis is Burning seems to be all about the performance of gender in over the top and exciting ways, so people who haven’t experienced drag before are in for a helluva lot of fun,” Sapien said.
Students interested in attending tonight’s performance can purchase tickets for $11 with a student ID, at Freeborn ticket office, online at tickets.com or at the door of the event.
ERICA LEE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.