The dance floor is dark, but packed with gyrating bodies. The DJ spins the latest Cardi B jam, and a flurry of sparkles, big hair and outlandish outfits whirl around the room. Suddenly, the music stops and the dance floor freezes. A single spotlight shines down upon a fabulously dressed drag queen. She vogues down the sea of people, as claps and shouts rise up from the audience. With a snap of her wrist, the party music flips back on and feet are electrified once more.
No, this isn’t San Francisco. This is the newly established drag extravaganza Majesty, right here in Santa Cruz.
Held at the Motion Pacific dance studio, this LGBTQ+ event is a bi-monthly party that’s half dance club, half drag show—and 100 percent over-the-top extraordinary. The founders of Majesty want to be clear that it isn’t performance art or burlesque or any of the genres that are more typically seen in Santa Cruz.
“It’s a drag show!” exclaims Motion Pacific teacher and one of Majesty’s organizers, Micha Hogan. “I love bringing in other elements, like [in September] we had a seasoned burlesque performer do a risque, witchy number. However, it was still in the realm of drag because everything from the clothes to the make-up was hyper-feminine.” He takes a sip of coffee, his perfectly manicured and painted nails shining prominently, before adding “Campy is the word.”
Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race, John Waters films, Andy Warhol, and everything between will tell you the best thing about camp art is how deliciously over-the-top it can be. Sometimes gaudy, often tacky, but always amazing, camp is outrageously larger-than-life. It’s too extravagant to be born into the world; instead, the human imagination unabashadley wills it into an outlandish existence.
Majesty originally started as a one-time event to “see what it could be,” says Hogan. Their first installment in July, called Midsummer Queer’s Dream, blew away everyone’s expectations. Actually, they didn’t know what to expect, but definitely didn’t expect seeing the entire bottom floor dance studio packed to the rim.
“It was insane!” Hogan says with disbelief. “We just had this idea for it and it was met so well by the community that it blew up.”
“It truly surprised me,” Motion Pacific owner and Director Abra Allan tells GT. “Not only the level of talent brought by the performers, but the immediate camaraderie and overwhelming gratitude present for having a fun and safe space. You can expect to dance your ass off and be endlessly entertained.”
Hogan thinks one of the reasons for the popularity is the lack of space for the LGBTQ+ community in Santa Cruz. Of course, Santa Cruz takes pride in being a progressive and safe city for everyone. However, spaces for historically marginalized cultures like the LGBTQ+ community are sometimes lost in the inclusiveness. Spaces like Majesty are important for the community’s cultural growth and evolution.
When Club Dakota closed its doors in 2008, Santa Cruz lost its last identifiably gay club. While Hogan recognizes there are monthly queer events around town—like Queer Bingo at the Poet and Patriot—and even one-off queer dance nights at places like the Blue Lagoon, he hopes Majesty can become something more.
“Queer people can go to any club in town and feel accepted,” he explains. “But there’s no night just for us. No place that is ours. That was the original intent: to get everyone together in one place.”
After the idea was brought to Allan, she made sure Hogan and Wiley took the reigns in shaping how the night would look and feel. “First, they are both incredible artists and people,” she says. “Second, they are both queer-identifying which, I feel, is very important for the people active in creating a vision and bringing this event to the community.”
While Midsummer Queer’s Dream was themed, organizers decided to ditch the themes and rename the event Majesty. Hogan says it was chosen for the power it holds, a power that everyone performing—and attending—should embrace.
“We decided themes would limit what people thought they could do,” he admits. “We want people to be their authentic selves and explore that.”
This month, attendees will have the privilege and pleasure to be slayed by Katalina Zambrano and Gigi Banks, as well as by Majesty’s first two drag kings, Richard Dick Moneybags and Tyson Check-In. As with the previous two events, Hogan, who performs under the name Micha and teaches weekly hip-hop and heel work classes at Motion Pacific, will be “werking” it on floor as well.
Majesty is proudly open to anyone 18 or older, they will have some adult beverages for anyone of legal drinking age, with valid identification. Allan tells GT there will be a $10 to $30 sliding scale donation and donations support the Santa Cruz Diversity Center Youth Program. Allen says that nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.
“We want this space to be available to everyone who wants to be there,” she writes.
Majesty—A Queer Dance Party and Drag Show is Saturday, Nov. 17. 7:30-10:30 p.m. Motion Pacific Dance Studio, 131 Front St. E., Santa Cruz. $10-$30. 457-1616.