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The Dartmouth
May 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

House of Lewan hosts ‘Club Lewan Series’

The ‘Club Lewan Series’ opens with ‘Club Lewan Renaissance,’ a daring show from student drag performers paying homage to Beyonce.

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Courtesy of Riley King '24

This fall, the House of Lewan is hosting their “Club Lewan Series,” consisting of vibrant, club-like performances that fuse various atmospheres and music genres. The House of Lewan is a queer performance group and Dartmouth’s inaugural drag club, committed to being an inclusive space for everyone who embraces drag as a means of enjoyment, liberation and self-expression. 

The initial show of the season in the club series was “Club Lewan Renaissance,” in which the House of Lewan paid homage to the groundbreaking Beyonce album, “Renaissance.” The performance was open to the College, and admission was free.

Jaime Aranzabal ’24 is the visionary co-founder of the House of Lewan. Within the group, Aranzabal is known as “La Paloma” and revered as the mother of the house. He addressed the relevance of Beyonce’s album and the reasons behind the House’s decision to honor her artistic contributions. Aranzabal said that icons such as Beyonce draw inspiration from the queer community, in turn, helping the Queer community feel more seen and represented.

“I can speak for a lot of queer people, queer people of color, when [I] say that they were very much able to see themselves and resonate with this collection of work,” he said. “It’s incredibly empowering to witness yourself being represented, particularly by one of your most beloved artists.”

Alex Honda ’27 performed a solo piece for the show based on their original choreography to the song “PURE/HONEY,” where they were able to explore their drag identity.

“I chose ‘PURE/HONEY’ because it has a [specific] beat to it, and I liked the rhythm,” Honda said. “For the makeup … I did something star-shaped, like a clown-esque face. That’s a part of my trademark style that I hope to establish within my drag persona here at Dartmouth.”

Angelique Bouthot, the assistant director of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, attended the performance of Club Lewan Renaissance.

“There was so much shine,” Bouthout said. “In the opening number, everybody was in metallic, shiny silver. It was so great.” 

For Aranzabal, the show was not just about the dancing or the makeup — it was mostly about the community.

“We want to pass on the torch [to young drag performers] and continue celebrating the exceptional work of [pop music] artists,” he said.“[Drag is] essentially the performance of gender, either crossing those lines, or heightening or amplifying your gender. It’s an exploration. It’s a feeling. It’s art.”

Many individuals in the queer community often experience a sense of being excluded, according to Aranzabal, which is why groups like House of Lewan are so important to him.

“It can feel like a lot of the queerness on a Dartmouth campus kind of fades a little bit into the background, but it exists,” Aranzabel explained. “A lot of times it can feel like [queerness] is in the shadows. So what we try to do is bring our talents and our passion to that front and center stage position, and show that we’re not afraid to be who we are.”

Similarly, Honda shared how the House of Lewan has been a warm and inclusive community for them. They expressed their admiration and appreciation for the presence of experienced performers, including La Paloma, who serve as mentors and offer valuable guidance. 

“I feel like [House of Lewan] provided a community for us in a way that’s really important, particularly in finding other drag performers who have different levels of experience,” Honda said.

This sense of community can be seen in how the other members in the house exchange tips and ideas of how to express themselves and delve into their art form. 

“We share resources such as makeup, wigs and everything,” Honda said. “When I first came here I didn’t know the basic principles of makeup, so [learning] basic makeup elevated my art in a way that I think I wouldn’t have [on my own].”

Bouthot also advised the club’s recent performance, highlighting the collaborative effort it took to organize the event. 

“The students planned this,” Bouthot said. “I advised them where it made sense to advise them, but the students really planned the whole operation, so I like to give credit where credit is due, and it’s their credit.” 

Bouthout hopes the recent performance will provide increased interest in the House of Lewan across campus and reach those who wish to support as well as participate within the queer community at Dartmouth. 

The House of Lewan is set to host its second performance in the “Club Lewan Series” on Wednesday, Nov. 8. This upcoming show, titled “Club Lewan: The Eras,” will consist of a Taylor Swift-themed drag show. The performance will be in Sawtooth at 8 p.m., with free entry to all those with a Dartmouth ID.