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THESE ARE THE BALLS OF A KILLER BELLA: Glitterball 2024 Review

Updated: Apr 6

Picture this: under the shadow of the ominous Economics building in the seasonal March cold, a warm rainbow glow ushers you towards a hubbub of queer joy soundtracked by the sensational student rock band, Verbatim. Glitterball has been the only ball I’ve gone to where people arrived unseasonably early to it, and when they did, it was to flock around the band - which says a lot about Verbatim and the name they’ve made for themselves in St Andrews. While the free prosecco queue was completely empty, the dance floor was not./There was a whole table of free alcohol being completely discarded because people were too busy dancing to Verbatim’s set! 


The weather was cold, but everyone at Glitterball was hot - especially the love of my life Paul Mescal hanging out by the photo frame at the back. Considering Glitterball was held in a field, it was so much fun this year that even Paul didn’t run away. And speaking of snacks - the free crepes were delicious, especially after many (obligatory) vodka cranberries imbibed throughout the evening.


As always, this year had the hallmarks of Glitterball - the iconic rainbow lighting over the rainbow-striped floor made for the gayest photos I have ever taken in my life, themed cocktails (shoutout to the ‘Clitterball’), and the annual pièce de résistance: professional (and high quality amateur) drag, aka the reason why any ticket to Glitterball is 100% worth the price. 



There were also new traditions which I especially loved, the St Andrews version of ‘Queering the Map’ to document moments of queer joy across town, and the cow cardboard-cutout that was later kidnapped and ransomed to the Glitterball committee (so homophobic). 


But what I was most impressed by was how every act knew their audience (except the DJ who did not play 212 by Azaelia Banks, which feels like a hate crime). Special praise goes out for Verbatim for their cunt-serving setlist, which included Black Sheep (by Metric) from ‘Scott Pilgrim vs The World’. From PoleSoc, Natalie’s choice of Von Dutch for her pole routine was the biggest serve of all, and receives the highly-coveted Anna Pilgrim seal of approval.


STUDENT DRAG


While Summer Sette, performing ‘Boyfriend’ by Dove Cameron, could “be a better boyfriend than him”, she couldn’t possibly have been a better drag act - the sparkly blazer, corset and shorts, as well as the cheeky little red tie really put the ‘business’ in show business. 


Sadi St. Ick, whose drag name was suggested by her dad (we stan), may live for live for love and live for drama, whilst the crowd lived for their performance. Strutting around in the world’s cuntiest shirt, ties and matching skirt, I wanted them to step on me with their 6.5-inch black platform boots. When asked to comment on the length of their heels, Sadi St. Ick told me: “A perfect length … [actually] what do I know I’m a lesbo”. 


Venus Vertigo, last year’s Drag Walk winner, embodied camp with her ‘Heads will Roll’ (by Yeah Yeah Yeahs) as Marie Antionette, taking the order of her foremother very seriously when she said “let them eat cake”, because she ate.


As a history student, I was absolutely feral for this. Even better, a friend of mine told me, “the Science students were scared and confused”, a comment I know Venus will love. The concept, makeup, wig, gown and song choice were the epitome of camp. 




Interview with our Student Drag Performers, Venus Vertigo (she/it), Sadi St. Ick (she/they) and Summer Sette (she/her):


Ahead of their Glitterball performances, I caught up with Venus Vertigo, Sadi St. Ick and Summer Sette for an exclusive interview for The Gay Saint.  


Have you guys been to Glitterball before? What are your best memories from it?


SS: It’s my third Glitterball, I’ve been going since it first started back up after COVID. I think my best memories are the drag, it’s what I always remember.

SSt.I: It’s my first Glitterball.

VV: Yeah it’s my first Glitterball too.


What’s special about performing at Glitterball?

VV: Because all the gay people are here!

SSt.I: I hope there’s not gay people in this tent.

VV: I’m kinda homophobic.. quote me on that.


How long have you been doing drag? How did you start?

VV: The first time I’ve performed in drag was like a year ago, but when did I start drag? Probably about 2 years ago in my little house in my little bedroom making my silly little videos.

SS: Yeah so this is my first time ever performing in drag, which is a crazy time to decide to start doing it. I started to do drag because I wanted to feel empowered in myself and as a woman in drag, and just a woman in general, kind of being told to be ashamed in my body, and being able to do drag has definitely allowed me to feel proud of the body I have. Especially as a woman who grew up being told I’m not allowed to do that.

SSt.I: It’s been about 2 years of me going to various gay clubs and raves and disgusting smelly places with clown makeup on for whatever reason. In terms of actually performing it’s been very recent.


Sadi, Drag Night (last November) was your debut right?

SStI: Yeah, that was my debut!


What does drag mean to you?

SSt.I: What drag means to me is being appreciated by my fellow gays and a sense of community, a queer audience, and like bringing a group of wonderful gay people together. And having fun and being a bit silly, because at the end of the day that’s what we want to do and how we want to have fun.

VV: Drag is all my favourite things in one big mish-mash. I’ve always loved makeup and fashion and hair and performing, and drag just combines it all and I like it, and it’s fun!

SSt.I: We’re all a bit delusional… no actually you’re all delusional - I’m right.


Who is your inspiration in drag?

SSt.I: Myself.

VV: I took what I liked from like 30 different artists and like mashed it all together and that’s me.


Devastated to have missed Venus Vertigo, Sadi St. Ick and Summer Sette? (You should be.) You can catch some of the performers in the Drag Walk competition on Friday 5th April, at 7:30pm in Main Bar.


POLESOC’S DEBUT

Our performers tonight - Amber, Natalie, Jenny, Anisa, Jiayi, and Nick - absolutely stunned. For most of these members, it was their first ever pole performance, which is utterly insane. The level of skill (and core muscle engagement) was beyond comprehension and the routines are visually stunning. I was transfixed. One audience member even shed a few tears:



Hard-pushed for a favourite, I think it has to go to Nick for voguing UPSIDE DOWN, using only their legs to keep themselves high up the pole. Believe it or not, Nick has done aerial silks before, but only started on the pole this year. (That’s right - only four months!). Their performance even featured props and a strip tease, that SCREAMED camp. 




Despite PoleSoc being a new addition to Glitterball this year, I hope it remains one of their traditions for years to come, and I will personally hunt down any future Glitterball committee that doesn’t invite them back to perform.



PROFESSIONAL DRAG


Rome Mosaic


Rome Mosaic, who performed at last year’s Glitterball, obviously impressed the St Andrews queer community - this year they were back to impress us once again. Not only was I gagged, I was divorced, beheaded, and died watching Rome Mosaic slay her tribute to Six the Musical. Later, they transported us into the space age with their charged duet, with their futuristic outfits reflecting back the dropped jaws of an excited audience. 


Lavish McTavish


I could talk all year about the artistry of Lavish McTavish’s outfit (pictured below). Covered head-to-toe in jewels and glitter, it felt like watching a meteor shower of pure cunt sent down from the heavens above. He performed with such an unparalleled energy and ferocity that was matched by the crowd, who were completely starstruck (as they should be).



Interview with Lavish McTavish (he/they)


During rehearsals, whilst they were wearing the cuntiest Barbie-esque matching pink tracksuit, I interviewed Lavish McTavish about their thoughts on drag:


What’s special about performing at Glitterball?

Lavish McTavish (LM): What’s really important about this kind of events, and what’s important about specifically queer events, [is that] the atmosphere is completely different. It’s just celebrating absolute joy in being ourselves and we’re not here to please a certain market or anything like that - I think what I love about doing events that are exclusively LGBT is that you really can just perform whatever the hell you want, because it’s such a supportive community that people will just eat it up and they will love it and they will support you and scream for you. 


How long have you been doing drag? How did you start?

LM: I was always a big fan of it and I’d be watching films like To Wong Foo and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and I was a musical theatre fan… so obviously musicals are very very camp. Unfortunately the way drag is portrayed in mainstream media, I didn’t realise for a very long time that I could actually do drag. I was a performer beforehand, but I think the thing with acting is that there was always a lack of control over how I wanted to do things or how I wanted to play certain roles, and it coinciding with what the director would want. It's somebody else’s vision basically. I never did burlesque or anything like that because I didn’t feel it was right for me, and then I think something just clicked with drag when I was playing around with filters on TikTok, and saw what I look like with a beard, and it wasn’t even a matter of like ‘oh I look really handsome haha’, it’s like I actually felt something within me, like something clicked. My imagination went a bit awry, and then Lavish McTavish was born from that. What the pandemic taught me was to actually go outside a bit more (I was massively introverted, so a lot of my queer culture was just watching movies and Drag Race by myself). I actually started to go out and explore clubs a lot more and go to Bingo Wigs in Dundee, and had the best night of my life there I’m not even joking, just standing up screaming for the performers, not caring what anyone was thinking. I just realised like ‘why didn’t I start this sooner? This is where I’m meant to be and this is what I’m meant to be doing’. Then I took part in a pageant [Diva’s Drag Race 2022], won it. Time has gone so fast since I started so it’s really difficult to get dates right. Then I just started getting booked in Edinburgh and Glasgow and got residency in Dundee [Church for 6 months], and it’s been amazing, I love it. 


And finally, as a professional in this industry, what’s your favourite gig that you’ve ever done? 

LM: I really enjoyed doing Dundee Pride last year, it was so fun and really nice doing shows that feel very celebratory. You really feel like you’re there for a purpose and you’re literally helping someone find joy when you’re at events like that. We did Orkney Pride as well, and they’ve never really had a pride in Orkney before so you could just feel the euphoria. It was pretty much sold out as well, so it was really nice to see that there’s a place for it here.



Tianah Tucker


Under her big fur coat was an even better surprise - a bedazzled bodysuit that almost wowed me as much as her actually performance. For me, Tianah Tucker is the emblem of feminine elegance, and her floor routine (pictured below) was especially sexy. 



For anyone who wants to experience their jaw dropping to the floor all over again, you can catch Tianah Tucker as she performs at Drag Walk (Friday 5th April), 7:30pm in Main Bar. 


Cara Melle~


And finally… our headliner, who proved that the best things in life are worth waiting for. Fresh off her appearance on Drag Race UK (Season 5), Cara Melle brought a much-needed charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent during her masterclass in how drag should be done. Her Beyoncé medley started slow and steady, and with her blue gown floating in the breeze, Cara Melle blew me away. I’ve never been so jealous of a microphone stand. 




While “this ain’t Texas, ain’t no hold ‘em”, Cara Melle held the attention of every single audience member.  One audience member told me: “Beyonce may as well have been on stage”. 






By Anna (she/her)

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