Qmmunity: House of South By
House of Lepore makes ballroom culture an official part of SXSW
By James Scott, Fri., March 17, 2023
South by Southwest is a place to make moves – and no one makes moves quite like House of Lepore, the local ballroom family headed up by recent Champions of Change Spacemaker of the Year Award winner Mother Natalie Lepore. In 2022, the Lepores brought to SXSW its first official ball, the Dirty South Ball, with the help of Black, queer-owned production company Unbounded Agency. This year, they're doing the whole damn thing themselves: The Big-Stage Ball at Cheer Up Charlies starts at 8pm with a showcase of DJs and live music from BabiBoi Lepore, Cookiee Kawaii, Dai Burger, SMV, Diamond Dior Davenport, Sevndeep, and Mia Gladstone, before diving into a full-on ballroom competition on the outdoor stage. On CUC's indoor stage will be a hyperactive hot spot called HyperPOP Palace, featuring DJs Amarji King, JPTR, and IDKRYAN.
For anyone out of the loop: Ballroom competitions are a big part of underground queer, BIPOC culture, and consist of several categories that participants perform a runway-style walk during. Anyone looking to know more about ballroom can get an in-depth education every first Thursday at the Lepores' monthly mini-ball, ATX Vogue Nights, hosted at Swan Dive.
House of Lepore curates incredible themes, and the Big-Stage Ball is no exception. The only difference here, though, is that this stage is much bigger and more high-stakes thanks to SXSW. "The concept behind 'The Big Stage Ball' is both straight-forward and effective," BabiBoi explains. "We wanted to stay true to the core of what SXSW is about, which is live-music." To tribute the musical core of South By, the Lepores wove pop-star wig malfunctions, concert culture, j-ette dance formations, and more into their category guidelines. Marrying theme and intent is paramount to a cohesive ball worthy of the Lepores, as BabiBoi emphasizes that the evening's focus should be on "all of the wonderful LGBTQ+ talent that is billed on our line-up including musicians, DJ's, and Houses."
Speaking of houses, another highlight of this year's event is that attendants will be introduced to 11 of Texas' leading kiki houses. In addition to the hosting Lepores, there'll also be the houses of Juicy Couture, GZ, Old Navy, Nike, Von Dutch, Bodega, Mamba, Moschino, Mulan, and 007. By paying respect to the Lone Star ballroom community, the Lepores continue their mission to create space for the people central to ballroom's storied history. "[Although] it is a space that everyone is welcome to," BabiBoi elaborates, "we will always uplift the BIPOC Queer community and pay our respects to all of the Black and Latinx [trans women] that paved the way for ballroom to exist."
Queer Craft Brunch What's better than this? Crafters being crafty at a brunch celebrating QCN host Ashley's b-day. Sat., March 18, 10am-1pm. Cherrywood Coffeehouse, 1400 E. 38th½. instagram.com/queercraftnight.
Boot Scoot USA Bring out yer boot-cuts for a day party full of classic country fun, with DJ sets from John Stamps and Neon Rainbow's founder Boi Orbison, a mini pop-up by Mutiny Market, two-step lessons, and more. Sat., March 18, noon-6pm. Latchkey, 1308 E. Sixth. instagram.com/mutiny_market.
RevFest 23: Queer Explosion Party with all yer fave country, queergrass, and backyard bands & DJs at this free showcase. Sat., March 18, 1-9pm. Revolutions Bookkeepers, 2111 W. Slaughter. fb.com/revolutionsbookkeepers.
Transnacional A global party debut with queer tunes from Chata (NYC), Hannah Lou (Mexico City), Lucia Beyond, Turito, Organ Wash, and her royal highness of electronica, p1nkstar. Sat., March 18, 9pm. Neon Grotto, 318 Colorado. instagram.com/p1nkstar_.
Queered North of South By is a showcase of queer music including Angel Estrada, Censored Dialogue, Female Gallery, Monarch the Poet, Papi Culo, Heather Cook, Royal She, and event organizer Shantilly. Sat., March 18, 6-9pm. Fairweather Cider Co., 10609 Metric #108. $15.54. instagram.com/queeredsound.
Clinks Raise a glass to this drag delight, with host Eva Inez and special guests Bulimianne Rhapsody, Chique Fil-Atio, Scarlet Rose Steel, Sinful Purchase, and Veronica Valentine. Sat., March 18, 9pm. Little Drinks Lounge, 3801 S. Congress #116. instagram.com/clinks_atx.
Big Gay Drag Brunch A special SXSW edition of this Austin Pride-partnered brunch, featuring
Canada's Drag Race star Priyanka and Dragula's Merrie Cherry. Plus all y'all's usual BGDB faves. Sundays, noon. Fourth & Co., 208 W. Fourth. instagram.com/fourthandcoatx.
Cuntry vs. Cunty Become a workout icon by joining Nikki DaVaughn and Erica Nix as they film a workout/class hybrid video. Dress as fun and sexy as you like, but no need to be put together: Pobody's nerfect. Sun., March 19, 1pm. Distribution Hall, 1500 E. Fourth. instagram.com/workoutwithericanix.
Sad Girls Only Time to get tearful, y'all: Sad Girls Only brings ennui to the drag party with hosts Louisianna Purchase and Ruby Knight. Third Mondays, 10pm. Swan Dive, 615 Red River. $10. instagram.com/swandiveaustin.
Good Pollution This show hosted by Clara Jubilee and Perpetual Oyster gives gourmet garbage – the best and trashiest sketch, short films, performance art, hot sauce, stand-up, and more. Featured guests include Brandi Davis, Irielle Wesley, Rosalind Hussell, and more. Third Tuesdays, 8pm. Fallout Theater, 616 Lavaca. $10 presale; $12 door. falloutcomedy.com.
Queer Trivia Test yer know-how at the best li'l queer trivia in town with host Aira Juliet and The Little Gay Shop. Tue., March 21, 7-10pm. Wanderlust Wine Co., 702 Shady. thelittlegayshop.com.
Loveline at Lulu's A night of drag, DJ sets, and games inspired by radio hotline romance, with performances from Andie Flores, Bobby Pudrido, Sinful Purchase, Travis Randy Travis, DJ La Morena, and yer on-air, coast-to-coast host Aira Juliet. Wed., March 22, 8pm. Lulu's, 10402 Menchaca Rd. Bldg. C. instagram.com/bobbypudrido.
Sappho's Songs Gothess Jasmine hosts and curates this intentionally lesbian/sapphic space. Note: Lesbians of all genders are welcome. Third Fridays, 9pm. Oilcan's, 211 W. Fourth. fb.com/oilcanharrys.
Coco Cxnts Drag Brunch Bohemia, Arinna Dior Heys, and Brigitte Bandit take over Coconut Club's rooftop with host Honey Baby and weekly special guests. Saturdays, 1-4pm. Coconut Club, 310-B Colorado. No cover. instagram.com/coconutclub.austin.
House of Lepore Pregame Power up before their official SXSW ball with a House of Lepore party featuring beats by BabiBoi as well as performances from Gothess Jasmine, Ez Brezzy, Amara Luna, and Mother herself, Natalie Lepore. Sat., March 18, 3-8pm. Cuatro Gato, 310 Colorado. Free. instagram.com/houseoflepore.
SXSVamp Spread yer bat wings and fly to the vampiest night market around, with tarot, music, vendors, haunted artifacts, and a drag & burlesque show featuring Ami Smash, Gothess Jasmine, Maxine LaQueene, Channing Ate'Em, and Adrienne Park. Sat., March 18, 5-10pm. The Glass Coffin, 3009 N. I-35. instagram.com/the.glass.coffin.
Queer Skate Night Meet up with yer board and good vibes for a skate session that's a li'l flashy in honor of South By. Sun., March 19, 7pm. Mueller Skate Park, 3730 Manor Rd. instagram.com/queerskateaustin.
Yayborhood Day Party Fundraise for yer local Yayborhood by attending this curated artist lineup of indie-pop, rock, punk, and more with an international queer vibes mini showcase. Sun., March 19, 2-11pm. Sahara Lounge, 1413 Webberville Rd., 512/927-0700. $15-35. yayborhood.com.
Sapphic Singles Catch this get-together in a new location but with all the same fun, flirty, queer, trans- & poly- inclusive vibes. Sun., March 19, noon-3pm. The Far Out Lounge & Stage, 8504 S. Congress. $10. instagram.com/sapphicsingles.
Cheer Up Charlie's Angels Cheer Ups goes full throttle with this drag show staring Brigitte Bandit, Harlót, and Yvonna F. Mei plus special guest performers and DJs. Sundays, 7pm. Cheer Up Charlies, 900 Red River. instagram.com/cucangels.
Come as You Are A queer variety show with a li'l bit of everything – singers, stand-up, spoken word, so many different entertainers but never the same show twice. Tuesdays, 10pm. Neon Grotto, 318 Colorado. instagram.com/neon.grotto.
TuezGayz Party hardy at Barbs. Tuesdays, 9pm. Barbarella, 611 Red River, 512/476-7766. $5 after 10:30. instagram.com/barbarella_atx.
Vanguard: A Drag Revolution/Queeraoke Hermajestie the Hung hosts outta-this-world drag, followed by CupCake's karaoke party. Tuesdays, 9 & 11pm. Swan Dive, 615 Red River. fb.com/swandiveaustin.
Divina: Noche Drag Latinx Hostess Tatiana Cholula and special guests serve an evening of Latinx queerness. Every other Wednesday, 10pm-12mid. Oilcan's, 211 W. Fourth. fb.com/oilcanharrys.