By Elaine Ezekiel
On Friday, May 14, Kaleidoscope sponsored the third annual Crystal Ball community reflection. Junior Max Wedding and senior Hallie Hinkhouse led the chapel, filled with an audience of about thirty, in a reflection on stereotyping gender roles and what they hoped to see at this year’s “Empire State of Drag.”
Wedding, a Kaleidoscope member, wore a backless blue sundress and gave a brief history of Crystal Ball, which began as an exclusive social event where members of Kaleidescope could express themselves in a safe space.
But according to Wedding, after the organization chose to open the event to the entire campus, it strayed from its original intention. “The mantra became, guys dress like girls; girls dress like sluts,” he said. “And this only served to reinforce the gender norms.”
However, Wedding said that he thinks K is moving towards a more thoughtful and intentional mentality about Crystal Ball. He cited the recent campus discussion about Frelon’s “Man Dance” as an example of this shift. “I think gender relations are at the forefront of everybody’s mind, and Crystal Ball becomes an opportunity to continue those conversations,” said Wedding. “But we think that these conversations need to be happening on a regular basis and not just once a year.”
Hinkhouse, this year’s Kaleidoscope president, also wore a blue sundress. She spoke about her daily relationship with bending gender norms through clothing. “In some ways I perform drag everyday,” she said. “I would love to be wearing a tux right now; I’m way more comfortable in that.” She stressed the concept of costume intentionality to the audience. “At least know what you’re doing. Don’t dress one way because that’s what everyone else is doing.”
After Crystal Ball, Hinkhouse said she felt that this intentional participation was up from previous years. “Just witnessing from what people were wearing, it went really well,” she said. “Intellectual thought about what people were wearing was heightened.”
Hinkhouse recalls ambulances outside the event to assist dangerously intoxicated students during her freshman year. This year, of the estimated 1,050 attendees, six students and three guests were removed from the dance due to alcohol intoxication, according to Security Director Tim Young. “There were probably more that had been drinking, but those were the ones that had stood out,” Young said.
Hinkhouse hopes to see Crystal Ball develop into a week-long examination of gender rather than a one-night party. “The campus really just wants to dance,” said Hinkhouse. “This is Kaleidoscope’s event. Shouldn’t we be able to define it for ourselves?”