Pride weekend in St. Louis kicked off on Friday, June 24th at Soldier’s Memorial downtown. However, across the city at the Casa Loma Ballroom, another kick off was taking place as the Big Gay* Soiree set the stage for largest and gayest live performance St. Louis has ever seen.

This 6 act show—one for each color of the rainbow—brought together Van Ella Productions, GlitterBomb Productions, and Hi Point Entertainment to produce the event, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG).

“The idea of the show was very organically conceptualized and then next thing we knew we had created this gigantic, rainbow monstrosity of a show," said Siren, a St. Louis local and one of the co-producers of the show. "It was our baby and we’ve been nurturing it and now we’re gonna give birth.” 

The show was presented by Pearl Vodka, a sponsor that has long supported the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Pearl vodka is a very generous sponsor of the LGBTQ community,” offered co-producer Kristen Goodman. “They already had a relationship with another sponsor of ours so they were just a good fit and stepped up to the plate.”

Everybody involved spent months preparing for the show, including rehearsals up until the day of. As a result, the production was much larger and intricate than your average live performance at your favorite gay bar. The show’s producers not only wanted to have an unforgettable party to kick off Pride weekend, but also wanted to foster a larger community.

“Of all the giant productions I’ve ever produced and helped create, this is by far the largest and most involved and tech heavy show I have ever done or been a part of,” said Lola Van Ella of Van Ella Productions. “To see the collaboration really gives new meaning to community and I’m really excited about seeing community come together. It takes a village and this village is building something so special. I’m honestly just excited to see that kind of pride (pun intended and not) of how beautiful all of this is and the work everybody put into it.”

The Big Gay* Soiree was comprised of drag, burlesque, fire, silks and interpretive dance, as well as a performance by Yara Sofia, from Rupaul’s Drag Race season 3 and All Stars. After killing her performance, Sofia took to the mic for a moment, not only to thank the crowd and the cast, but also to remember the tragedy that happened in Orlando.

“We have to be gayer than ever!” Sofia encouraged. “Keep moving forward and believe in yourself before you believe in somebody else.”

The tragedy was recognized again at the end of the show. As "Purple Rain" faded in, the names of the Orlando victims scrolled up the screen above the stage. Cast members held candles as the crowd held rainbow glow sticks. After the last note of "Purple Rain" the entire crowd stayed silent and attentive until the final names scrolled away.

The Big Gay* Soiree showcased the hard work and wide array of talents possessed by the LGBTQIA+ performance community in St. Louis. In turn, it also brought together the community as a whole and its allies. As the largest and gayest Pride kickoff party seen by St. Louis, The Big Gay* Soiree was a wild success - and hopefully, will continue to create a community for Prides to come.



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