The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



Got an idea? A concern? A problem? Let The Huntington News know:

LMA, RSA bring Laganja Estranja to campus for Springfest

Brian Daniels
Laganja Estranga speaks to the crowd. Along with her performances, she also spoke about the importance of students voting and the LGBTQ+ community having a seat at the table.

So you wanted a twist, huh? 

To kick off Springfest 2024, Northeastern’s Live Music Association, or LMA, and the Resident Student Association, or RSA, hosted a drag performance in the Curry Ballroom with headliner Laganja Estranja of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season six. Local Boston drag queens Candace Persuasian and Briar Blush joined Estranja for the performance.

LMA, a student-run club that hosts live music events on campus year-round, has organized multiple drag performances over the years, featuring queens like Sasha Colby, Mhi’ya Iman LePaige, Olivia Lux and more. Drag shows have become a defining element of the club, so much so that it typically hosts at least one drag show per semester. Joshie Antony, LMA’s president and a fourth-year health science major, talked about how the organizations landed on the lineup of queens to perform. 

“We discussed as an [executive]-board, along with RSA, about who we thought would really grab people’s attention, who would be within our budget and who would meet our diversity goals,” Antony said. “At LMA, we have strong diversity goals we want represented on stage. I think around 85% of our artists’ budget always goes to people from marginalized communities. And every headliner we’ve had has come from a more diverse community, which is really awesome.”

For this performance, the cast of three was entirely made up of transgender women. Since her season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” aired in 2014 and her cameo on season six of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” Estranja has been openly vocal about LGBTQ+ rights, especially after coming out as transgender in 2021

There was no shortage of interest in the event, with the line snaking from the entrance of the ballroom all the way down the halls of Curry Student Center. Students brimmed with anticipation. 

“I think the art of drag is a staple of the queer community,” said Devin Mullen, a second-year cell and molecular biology major. “And I think the fact that Northeastern is willing to not only invest in, but have a whole production of drag queens really shows the students that they want to have diversity at the forefront of their university.”

Mullen’s friends, who all waited together for the show to start, gushed over the prospect of seeing one of their favorite queens live. 

Connor Bedell, a second-year political science major, prefaced, “I love Laganja. She was kind of crazy on her season,” with laughter from the group. 

“She would also do dance videos with studios in Los Angeles that I thought were super cool,” Bedell continued. “I used to watch them in middle school. So, I love her as a performer, love her artistry — she’s very committed to putting on a good show.” 

During her run on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Estranja was a controversial figure, discourse arising over the somewhat appropriative nature of her character choices.

“Laganja is a person that, unfortunately, had to face a lot of turmoil from the fans during season six because of her personality and really had a complete transformation from when we first saw her to ‘All Stars,’ and then, I believe she came back as an assassin,” Mullen said. “The fans really loved her after that, and she was kind enough to tell us about her trans story — I love how open she is about that.” 

The ballroom doors opened up to an environment that matched the energy of its attendees, with moody pink and green spotlights illuminating the room and infectious pop music blaring from the speakers. Students had the space filled in no time, crowding into their seats along the aisle. To their excitement, each queen was set to perform three unique acts.

Blush took the stage for the first performance of the night, entrancing the audience in an iridescent pink dress that shimmered when it caught the light as she sashayed down the runway. Blush cited this as her first time performing at Northeastern and laid down the show’s ground rules, including being sure not to touch the performers and to sing along to all the songs. 

Most importantly, she encouraged the audience not to be shy with their cameras or their admiration. She said, “If there’s one thing drag artists love, it’s, guess what? Attention!” 

Blush came out just as high-energy for her second set, ponytail-flipping, high-kicking, shawl-twirling and skipping down the aisle to the likes of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy.”  

For her final performance, Blush burst with personality in a silver jumpsuit, swiveling her head theatrically, swinging her arms and jutting her hips. When met with rapturous applause, she said coyly, “Oh, stop, stop … why did you stop?”

Briar Blush sashays down the runway. She was the first performer of the night. (Brian Daniels)

Persuasian began her first act in a silver chrome bodysuit strutting to Beyoncé’s new single “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM.” She heavily interacted with the audience, dancing among the crowd, encouraging students to clap along and dance with her, giving her bedazzled cowboy hat to a lucky student in the front row and even “stealing” a student’s phone to take a few selfies on the runway. 

Persuasian took things to a vulnerable level for her second act, inviting the audience into her experience as a transgender woman. While Persuasian lip-synced center stage in a long pink coverup to “Reflection” from Disney’s 1998 animated film “Mulan,” a video played in the background showing the performer gazing at herself in the mirror, applying makeup and taking estrogen. 

At the song’s crescendo, Persuasian unveiled a bodysuit that she had underneath the cover-up, reading, “Trans Is …” on the front and “BEAUTIFUL” on the back. As she swept her long blond hair away from her back so the audience could read the text, students erupted in a standing ovation. 

For her last act, Persuasian brought on two backup dancers that immediately sent the crowd into a frenzy. Rocking a red sequined bodysuit, she danced to Beyoncé’s “ALIEN SUPERSTAR” before the crowd burst out in applause. 

Candace Persuasian flips her hair. During her last act, she danced to “ALIEN SUPERSTAR,” to the delight of the crowd. (Brian Daniels)

Estranja stunned in a vibrant pink and yellow bodysuit, chains hanging from her hips to give her an extra edge, sporting an equally funky and colorful wig. 

After delivering a dynamic performance, Estranja said, “It is truly my privilege to still be here, traveling the world, a decade after ‘Drag Race’ … Nowadays, I’m really trying to use my mic for change.” 

She went on to underscore the importance of students voting in the upcoming election and the urgency of the LGBTQ+ community having a seat at the table. 

For her second set, Estranja recruited the audience into what she called the “Laganja Estranja Dance School” and announced that there would be a dance-off among four students. After gathering her volunteers, which consisted of a business administration and design combined major, an international affairs major, a bioengineering major and a behavioral neuroscience major, the dance-off was a go. In the end, three contestants had to sashay away and the behavioral neuroscience major was, as RuPaul says, “A winner, baby!” 

Estranja, always full of surprises, came out for her final performance to talk about the release of her upcoming album, as well as her latest single “Daily Basis,” dropping April 20. She involved students once again, teaching them the corresponding dance for her song, with moves that matched the lyrics.

At the end of the event, all three women graced the stage for yet another emotional standing ovation. 

“We will keep rising, and we want to keep seeing you guys enjoy queer art the way it was meant to be,” Blush said.

As students filtered out of the ballroom, excitement and joy were still in the air. 

Second-year international business major Haylen Wehr, who the queens pulled onstage to dance during the show, expressed her thoughts on the performance.

“It was so fun,” Wehr said. “I’ve just loved drag for the longest time and I love being able to interact with drag however and whenever I can.”

When asked what she likes most about the art of drag, Alex Booker, a first-year English and political science combined major, said, “I love how much expression there is. It’s such an inclusive space for you to be yourself, and there’s so many different people of different identities within drag that are all celebrated. I just absolutely adore that. It’s so personal, and through that, it becomes even more uplifting.”

More to Discover