A glimpse into India’s First Drag Ballroom: Breaking Stereotypes and Embracing Diversity

Marking a remarkable milestone, Mumbai’s illustrious Drag House, The House of Luna, graced the city with an extraordinary affair—the inaugural IT Ball 01. This event united drag performers with incredible looks and an open to all drag competition where participants had a chance to win trophies.  

The House of Luna is a revered drag community based in Mumbai, India, an ardent supporter of the LGBTQ community. They embrace inclusivity, organize events and performances to uplift local drag artists. They have taken a momentous step forward by organizing the IT Ball 01 in Mumbai—a vibrant celebration of local Indian drag culture. This event serves as a triumphant homage to the creativity and individuality of drag artists in the country. The glorified drag artists, including Deedeepls, Rayyan Monkey, Sunil Bormahela, and Kristheticc, who all are the members at House of Luna graced the event with their extraordinary talent.  

The event featured the esteemed presence of Glorious Luna aka Suruj Rajkhowa and the glorified drag artists Deedeepls, Rayyan Monkey, Sunil Bormahela, and Kristheticc. Luna is a renowned drag artist and runway model who has walked the prestigious Lakmé Fashion Week. She is a popular makeup director and drag daughter of the legendary drag queen Sushant, aka Rani KoHEnur from the House of KoHEnur. 

Deedeepls, a multifaceted artist, is not only a talented drag performer but also a fashion illustrator, creative visionary, and art director. Sunil Bormahela is a multi-talented artist who excels in the realms of dance, choreography, and modeling. Kristheticc is not only a skilled drag artist but also the visionary founder of the Indian Voguing Scene.  

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Mesmerizing the Drag Ballroom with Rayyan Monkey 
Rayyan, a trans woman and a drag performer , grew up in a traditional Muslim family. She was 29 when she embraced and accepted her transgender identity. She works for the creative firm The Fatsmeagol Collective as a Co-Chieftess. Apart from being a writer and content and communications strategist, Rayyan is also a diversity and inclusion consultant.    

By organizing this ball, the House of Luna aims to break stereotypes and challenge barriers that hinder the acceptance of drag culture in India.  The IT Ball 01 acts as a beacon of hope, fostering a sense of unity, understanding, and celebration within the LGBTQ community, while inviting society to recognize and appreciate the beauty and significance of Indian drag culture.  

In a conversation with FSOG, Rayyan discusses her latest drag performance at the “IT Ball 01” event. She shares insights into her various drag performances, including her triumph at the Gay Gaze Bombay ball during their Halloween party. She talks about the emerging ballroom scenes in New York City and the exclusivity of private ballrooms catering to LGBT+ community, which were unwelcoming to people of color.  

 What inspired India’s first ever drag ball, aka The IT Ball 01? 

Rayyan: Being LGBTQ+ myself, I was particularly driven to promote inclusivity, acceptance, and empowerment. In Mumbai, I observed a lack of representation and venues for drag performers, which motivated me to act.  And with the help of other like-minded people from the House of Luna, we organized The IT Ball 01 during Pride month as a loving homage to our neighborhood drag scene. Our main goal was to provide a platform for drag kings, queens, and non-binary performers where they could fully express themselves and show off their extraordinary skills. My goal was also to redefine beauty standards and question social conventions by creating a welcoming environment where the LGBTQ+ community could shine brightly.  

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What were some of the challenges faced during the planning and organization of The IT Ball 01?     

Rayyan: The success of The IT Ball depended on garnering support members of the LGBTQ+ community and those outside of it, which was a difficult task in itself. To create a solid support system, we had to engage in community outreach activities, spread awareness, and answer any misunderstandings. Despite these difficulties, we persisted because we thought The IT Ball had the potential to have a great effect on the LGBTQ+ community. We overcame these challenges and successfully planned an event that highlighted inclusion, self-expression, and unity thanks to our commitment, collaboration, and allies’ assistance. 

How do you think the It Ball 01 will contribute to the broader LGBTQ+ movement in India?  

Rayyan: Being one of The IT Ball 01’s creators I truly believe that it has the power to alter the LGBTQ+ movement in India. I am honored to have organized Mumbai’s first Drag Ballroom event since I know it will have a positive impact on both our neighborhood and society as a whole. This event serves as a platform for queer performers to display their artistry and talent rather than merely being a celebration. By bravely displaying our true selves, we hope to dismantle obstacles, lessen stigma, and dispel myths about the LGBTQ+ community. Our event can contribute to long-lasting societal change in the struggle for equality and inclusivity. 

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What impact do you hope the It Ball 01 will have on changing perceptions and challenging stereotypes related to drag and gender expression in India?   

Rayyan: The inception of The IT Ball 01, Mumbai’s first Drag Ballroom event, has been above our wildest expectations. It has been incredibly heartwarming for the organizer of this historic event to see the tremendous support and significant response from the public and LGBTQ+ community. The occasion struck a chord with the LGBTQ community and its allies, becoming a symbol of empowerment, harmony, and celebration. The energy was brimming with happiness, acceptance, and a common appreciation of the value of visibility and self-expression. The tremendous abilities and inspiring tales of our community were highlighted, dispelling myths and preconceptions. 

How has the response been from the public and the LGBTQ+ community to the It Ball 01?   

Rayyan: The Ball has received a tremendous response. I’m thrilled to witness the exceptional and unconditional support from the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. People arrived with huge enthusiasm, ready to express who they really were and make a statement. As people from many backgrounds came together to celebrate love, self-expression, and resiliency, the atmosphere was brimming with happiness, empowerment, and a sense of community. The runway was filled with voguing that was fierce, and the show of love and support was incredibly touching. Let me assure you, It Ball 01 will always be remembered as a historic event where everyone felt valued, accepted, and most importantly completely fabulous. 

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What message or takeaway do you have for the future drag queen or kings when they attend IT Ball type of events?   

Rayyan: I have a message for all the aspiring drag queens and kings attending IT Ball-style events: Embrace your true selves and let your light shine brightly. You have the chance to display your special abilities, creativity, and self-expression at these events. Keep in mind that drag is a form of art that has no limitations. You are allowed to explore and express various elements of your identity in this celebration of individuality. Communication is essential when attending these events, so keep that in mind. Make connections with other performers, the organizers, and the locals. Build lasting friendships by conversing, sharing experiences, and conversing. We can create a lively and inclusive environment by working together and supporting one another inside the community. 

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