A Different Kind of Drag Race Captivates Dupont Circle
The traditional ghouls and goblins of Halloween took a back seat to dozens of contenders clad in their most bold and inventive drag costumes. Hundreds of spectators lined the streets of Dupont Circle between 17th and P Streets last night, for the pre-Halloween tradition known as the “High Heel Race.”
The race did not begin until 9 p.m., but onlookers started to assemble around five o’clock, taking pictures of the flamboyant costumes and enjoying the festive scenery. The event’s co-sponsors include Delta Lambda Phi Fraternity, JR’s Bar and Grill, and Junk in the Trunk.
“The race gets bigger every year,” said Sterling M. Spangler, community outreach officer for the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. “This is the biggest crowd to date.”
“The event started out about six years ago as a spontaneous race between cohorts, and blossomed into an annual event,” Spangler said. “The Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit is proud to support the ‘High Heel Race,’ it allows us to do a lot of outreach amidst such a massive and mixed crowd.”
The event was such a big attraction that many stood face to face, tightly pressed against one another in hopes of catching a glimpse of the high-heeled impersonators.
Darth Vader could be seen trudging down the closed off street; Snow White and Princess Jasmine could be spotted weaving in and out of the masses. Innovative costumes included the Metro transit stops: Gallery Place/Chinatown, and the Metro Center.
“The turn out is breathtaking, and I’m in awe of the costumes,” said Jennifer Freeman, a resident of the Dupont area. “I particularly like the Twister; it’s impressive.”
Freeman is referring to the group of clever impersonators scantly covered in garish garbs with head-dresses composed of board games. Among the crowd favorites were Twister, Yahtzee, Monopoly, Candy Land and Life. There were sexy nurses, angels of death, political impersonators; some dressed just to impress, and some just forthright confusing.
Speculation even arose over who exactly one drag queen attempted to impersonate, some said she was Hillary Clinton and an entourage of Secret Service, others believed the impersonator to be Princess Diana and her entourage.
One man whose identity remained intact was District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty. Fenty graced the crowd with hugs and pictures.
“The Mayor usually shows support,” said Cara Spira, 26, a Dupont area resident for five and a half years, who has attended the race equally as long. “If the mayor didn’t show support for the gay and lesbian community, that would probably be detrimental to him.”
As the nine o’clock hour approaches and the signal is given, the drag queens take off, charging down the street. Some impersonators were in full force making their way to their goal. Wigs became flashes of color; arms flailed about. Wedges, platforms and stilettos pounded the pavement as the competitors raced to win the prized trophy adorned with heels. Other drag divas, like the Kimora Lee impersonator, strutted down the raceway giving face to the hundreds of cameras and fascinated spectators. Drag diva “Wilma Finga-Do,” dressed in a pink retro ’60s getup complete with sequins, a pink boa and feathered heels boasted, “I’m to fabulous to run.” Wilma has been a participant in the race going on four years and is hooked.
“It’s fabulous and absurd and crazy, but it’s a positive event that supports the community through Halloween fright,” Wilma said. “And honey, nothing’s scarier than a man in women’s clothing.”