Qmmunity: Quntry & Western

DJ Boi Orbison lassos queer country nostalgia with Neon Rainbows


DJ Boi Orbison and Brigitte Bandit at Neon Rainbows (photo by Jay Ybarra)

Attention all LGBTQ buckaroos: Austin's hottest quntry party is Neon Rainbows. Established circa 2012 by DJ Boi Orbison – aka DJ Boyfriend, aka Ezra Edwards – this rootin' tootin' rhinestone affair happens this Friday, April 28, at 9pm at Cheer Up Charlies. But its origins predate CUC's current Red River digs.

"This was 11 or 12 years ago at the old Cheer Up Charlies location on East 6th," Edwards recalls of Neon Rainbows' beginnings, "and I was a fresh young DJ who wanted to do what wasn't being done." Edwards emphasizes that many LGBTQ folks who grew up with Aughts country music blasting on the radio have missed out on seeing themselves represented, an experience he relates to. This party is about claiming that queer space without losing the boots and big belt buckles, similar to long lost homosexual honky-tonk Rainbow Cattle Co. "Neon Rainbows is a party where you can go if you're queer and you wanna two-step with your sweetheart or if you wanna line-dance to 'Copperhead Road' with a bunch of fellow queermos and feel at home," he says.

Of course, changes have blown through the ol' Rainbow since its humble beginning, like the inclusion of the Gay Ole Opry Drag Show hosted by Brigitte Bandit, who Edwards shouts out for her fun show lineups. "Adding drag as a component to Neon Rainbows over the recent years has also truly helped solidify Neon Rainbows as a queer party," he says. "We've had so many different drag artists bring their interpretations of country music to the stage, whether it be silly or provocative or political." Other shifts in the wind include fresh young faces among those two-stepping, whose music taste trends more pop, as Edwards reports many requests for Taylor Swift. Some things never change though, as when asked what song gets boots on the dance floor without fail, Edwards responds, "'Let's Go Girls...' is all I have to say." Another shift has come from partygoers' outfits, going all out with rhinestones, rainbows, glitter, and more. This Friday's theme is Denim Prom, so fashionistas better break out their "Texas Tuxedo looks," Edwards advises.

Celebrating country queer-style has taken on a whole lotta meaning in the past few weeks, with Texas politicians making the state feel less than welcoming for anyone not white, cis, and straight. Edwards points out a similar trend happening in country music – the old patriarchal guard attempting to gatekeep and stop progress. "But you can't fight change," he says. "People want to see themselves in the things they love."

Tapping into the nostalgic chords of country music creates a safe space for frustrated queer folks to dance and belong, which Edwards tries to curate through his Neon Rainbow set. "Country music itself means the same thing to a lot of different people," he adds. "It's comforting. ... It's music about being yourself, loving yourself, having fun with your friends, and yes the occasional '*unalive* your husband' song but even those songs are about not putting up with abuse. It's all self-affirming."

While Neon Rainbows does deal in nostalgia, Edwards has definite plans for the party's future. Having already scored a visit from queer country prince Orville Peck, he still has many dream guests he'd like to show up. One specific queen gets a call out from Edwards though: "Trixie Mattel, if you're reading this: pull-up, bald!" He's also got sights set on adding fundraising to the Rainbow as Pride approaches. "We have a beautiful community built up around Neon Rainbows," he says, "and I'd love to have us come together to give back as well as scoot some boots."

Q’d Up

Drag at the Disco Xtra hosts with special guests Gothess Jasmine, Eileen Dover, Miss Adrienne Park, and Syd Prescott performing to tunes spun by TJ the DJ. Fri., April 28, 7-9pm. Wiggle Room, 612 Nueces. RSVP, $10. instagram.com/wiggleroomatx.

Kingdom Behold the majestic sights and sounds of drag royals hosted by Alexander the Great. Fridays, 9-10:30pm. Oilcan's, 211 W. Fourth. No cover. fb.com/oilcanharrys.

The Talent Show Irielle Wesley brings this stacked comedy lineup to the Coldtowne stage. Fourth Fridays, 10pm. ColdTowne Theater, 1700 E. Second. $10, online; $12, door. instagram.com/irielle_is_dumb.

Cuchi Cuchi A night of Hispanic music and drag, featuring host Lavender Thug, DJ Salem Ofax, and debut Cuchi Cuchi performer Sofia La Muneca. Sat., April 29, 9pm. Cuatro Gato, 310 Colorado St. Free 'til 10pm. instagram.com/lavenderthug.

Locker Room Jump into this jock jamboree, where the dress code is all sporty, all sexy. Dress in gear, jerseys, singlets, and, yes, jocks for a night in da locker room. Sat., April 29, 9pm. The Iron Bear, 301 W. Sixth. instagram.com/theironbearaustin.

Queer Paddleboarding Get out yer oars and tour Town Lake with Queer Friends ATX and Sapphic ATX. Sun., April 30, 11am. Texas Rowing Center, 1541 W. Cesar Chavez. instagram.com/sapphicatx.

Gupshup Join local queer South Asian group Khush ATX for a conversation about coming out to friends and family. Sun., April 30, 3:30pm. Easy Tiger, The Linc, 6406 N. I-35 #1100. tinyurl.com/khushgupshup.

Vanguard/Queeraoke Hermajestie the Hung hosts outta-this-world drag followed by queer karaoke hosted by CupCake. Tuesdays, 9 & 10pm. Swan Dive, 615 Red River. $5. 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/divinaaustintx.

Drag Bingo for a Cause Compete for bingo glory at this Planned Parenthood fundraiser hosted by Vylette Ward and Alysha Pretty. Thu., May 4, 6-9pm. The Sunset Room, 310 E. Third. $25-100. fb.com/ppgreatertx.

Keshara Moore Signing & Reading Grab a signed copy and hear a reading from local author Keshara Moore's debut novel:

The Obsidian Society, which is "unapologetically queer, Black, and packed with all the found family goodness." Thu., May 4, 6-8pm. Vintage Bookstore & Wine Bar, 1101 E. 11th. Free but RSVP. instagram.com/faroutblackgirl.

May the 4th Be With You A galactic lineup of Digger of Dirt, Petra Von Kan't, Good Pollution, and Female Gallery. Thu., May 4, 8pm. Valhalla, 710 Red River. $10. fb.com/valhallatavern.

Extra Extra

Album Release & Intergalactic Prom With Caleb De Casper Catch the cosmic new release from local band Trouble in the Streets along with a performance from Caleb De Casper. Thu., April 27, 7:30pm. Parish, 501 Brushy. $15. parishaustin.com.

Queer + Trans Picnic Potluck Extravagayza Sit among the trees and breeze for this potluck centered on queer & trans joy. DM the organizer to sign up to bring a dish. Fri., April 28, 5pm. Pease Park, 1100 Kingsbury. instagram.com/the.saint.loren.

Lez Connect Dress to impress, because you'll be zipping through speed dates at this lesbian-focused event. Post-speed dates is a singles mixer, with plenty of sexy lounge music and tasty cocktails. Fri., April 28, 7pm. Sterling Event Center, 6134 Hwy. 290 E. $25. fayefearless.com.

Vixens of Volstead Brunch like a true queen with the Vixens. Sundays, 1pm. Hotel Vegas, 1502 E. Sixth, 512/524-1584. instagram.com/vixensofvolstead.

Studio 04 Disco yerself dizzy at this event featuring Kai Castro, Juan40, and DJ SUPERMCN4STY – all benefiting Equality Texas. Sat., April 29, 9pm. Superstition, 110 E. Riverside. instagram.com/superstitionatx.

Queer Craft Night A bring-your-own-craft social event for queer folks wanting to meet new people, hone yer skills, or just get crafty. Every other Wednesday, 6-9pm. Cherrywood Coffeehouse, 1400 E. 38th½. instagram.com/queercraftnight.

Side Show Enjoy the strange and unusual with Evah Destruction, Gothess Jasmine, Noodles, and special guests – plus stick around for the

Dragula rewatch party. Every other Wednesday, 9pm. Oilcan's, 211 W. Fourth. $10. fb.com/oilcanharrys.

Tongue in Cheek Gaily giggle at this queer comedy open mic hosted by the hilarious Ivy Le. First Thursdays, 8pm. Swan Dive, 615 Red River. instagram.com/swandiveaustin.

Austin Vogue Nights Attention queers: It's House of Lepore's monthly Vogue Night, with seven categories and seven chances to serve. First Thursdays, 10pm. Swan Dive, 615 Red River. $5. instagram.com/houseoflepore.


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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

LGBTQ, DJ Boi Orbison, DJ Boyfriend, Ezra Edwards, Cheer Up Charlies, Neon Rainbows, Brigitte Bandit, Gay Ole Opry Drag Show, Orville Peck, Trixie Mattel

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