Writer’s Recap: The spectacle that is ‘Animo Pride: Drag Concert Extravaganza’

“Animo Pride: Drag Concert Extravaganza” turned queer celebration notches above the status quo.

Regality and glamor were brought to the mainstage of Animo Pride: Drag Concert Extravaganza at the Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium, in what was an evening of camp and excellence last June 20. Presented by DLSU Prism and the University Student Government Office of the President, the concert was the University’s first of its kind—a showcase of prominent Filipino drag queens whose names have reached the ears of viewers in far-flung corners of the globe. 

The legal status of LGBTQ+ individuals remains undetermined in the Philippines as the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill has been put at a standstill, still steps away from being passed into legislation. Despite such hurdles, the country has long been known for its boisterous community spaces, made livelier by generations of vivacious artists such as those featured in the lineup of this extravaganza.

All dolled up

Popping the bottle open for the night and getting things flowing was the fiery Arizona Brandy, whose spotlighted silhouette was made distinct by a blonde ponytail appropriately slicked high for an Ariana Grande routine. In it, she drew Focus not only with her moves but with some antics, showing she had no tears left to cry with a sparkly outfit reveal accompanied by a downpour of confetti. She spent the rest of the number comedically “picking it up,” first with a walis then, exasperatedly, a vacuum. “Murang mura lang yung cleaning services ko, P100 siya per millisecond,” she humorously proclaimed to hosts Baus Rufo and Miki Santos before trotting offstage. 

(My cleaning services are extremely cheap, costing only P100 per millisecond.)

A vision in white, Winter Sheason Nicole sent chills down everyone’s spines with her live vocals as she soulfully serenaded the crowd with Andra Day’s Rise Up, causing the audience to sway along. A greater flurry of passion brewed in people’s hearts over her anthemic take of Rivermaya’s Himala, closed on a series of whistle notes that soared around the hall. 

As is natural, the serene season of winter was followed by the rejuvenating blasts of summer. Throughout the auditorium, roars of applause echoed for the Filipina winnah herself, Marina Summers. Silver tassel chains cascading down her sides, the home comer—back from a solo tour across the United Kingdom—dazzled all with an extended version of her hit record AMAFILIPINA. All eyes glued to every sharp pop and twist of her body, Marina stunned everyone with reverberating vocals that stayed stable throughout her intense moves. 

One captivating performance after the other, the concert took a breather with the refreshing energy brought by the cast of gay reality dating show Sparks Camp, who described the soon-to-air second season as “pasabog,” or explosive. The bachelors were soon ushered offstage to make way for De La Salle Innersoul; eight members awash in outfits that each represented a different color of the rainbow delivered pumped up performances of Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful and Katy Perry’s Firework.

The main program resumed with the arrival of the dynamic Maxie Andreison, who got the auditorium partying along to a live sung nostalgic medley of Jay Sean club classics including 2012, Down, and Do You Remember. After the lively set, Andreison took time to emphasize the celebration of Pride Month as a form of protest, reminding, “Pride is all about love, family, and acceptance, so wag kayo mapapagod! Wag kayong matatakot na ipaglaban ang ating karapatan.”

(So don’t tucker out! Don’t be afraid to fight for our rights.)

“SOGIE bill is not just for the LGBT community, it’s for humanity. Mabuhay ang mga bakla!” she jovially proclaimed.

(Long live the gays!)

Spinning in my highest heels

Riding the high of a maxed-out number from Andreison, a pretty in pink La Salle Dance Company-Street returned to the stage only a week after their China anniversary. The ensemble glossily grooved to Doja Cat’s hits Woman, Tia Tamera, and Say So in fine-tuning with the divine feminine theme of the night. As the company number exited stage right, the crowd was unprepared for the winds of Winter Sheason’s storm. The black-strapped diva’s rendition of Beyoncé’s famed Crazy In Love elicited waves of cheers after each cartwheel and death drop. The Knowles knowledgeable embodied the queen herself in her command of the room as if she were the Halo-ed angel at Coachella.

In anticipation of the next grand display, Rufo and Santos prefaced the audience with an epilepsy warning. A pink-puffed, hair-slicked M1ss Jade So illuminated even the crevices of the third-floor balconies with the second Ariana Grande homage of the night. Esoteric as ever, her Highness and her subjects did the pause in we can’t be friends (wait for your love) justice; following suit was the bratzy’s rendition of yes, and?,  a display defined by finesse and fluidity. The audience took its time to recover from the extravagan-su. When it did, the full house was just as deafening as the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde alumna was “overwhelmed to have performed [for] a sister school.”

Attempting to save the grandest performance for last was Taylor Sheesh, who dazzled the evening crowd with replicas of the outfits and choreographies from The Eras Tour. Fever dreams were high in the not-so-quiet of the night as the set began with 22 and We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. The clamorous chants to famed singles from various Swift albums made the bejeweled one-woman show a participatory theater. Closing strong, her Love Story sent the crowd hollering before the lights came back on.

While the audience was mentally preparing to head out of the auditorium in single file, the hosts came back on stage with the most grandiose surprise possible—a pronouncement of Marina coming back to the stage. The moment a black and red bodysuited superstar’s heels clacked, people were strapped right back to their seats. Her Lady Gaga set may have arguably been the first time the audience was silent for the evening. The seasoned performer’s Babylon, Free Woman, Enigma, and Marry The Night elicited oohs and aahs with every flick of her wrist and sway of her wig. After thanking the Lasallian crowd for its time and love for the queer and drag communities, she struck an archer’s pose that left the crowd rambunctious.

The concert’s overtime wasn’t enough to hamper the exiting crowd’s spirits. Past the fanfare of performances and raffle draws, Animo Pride: Drag Concert Extravaganza closed with a full house singing the Lasallian hymn in unison. The night of glitter and glamor will be remembered as a benchmark of queer visibility in the University; if anything, it’s a marker of how far we have come in celebrating queer expression and just what to expect in the years to come.

Maxinne Vianca Tomas

By Maxinne Vianca Tomas

Samantha Ubiadas

By Samantha Ubiadas

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