By Madeline Blasberg
Drag Queens have a very powerful effect on me. I enjoy their eccentricity, marvel at their semi-acrobatic dance moves in 6-inch high heels, and am baffled that a man’s legs can rock a pleather mini-skirt with flare I may never possess. I admire them for living by their own rules and for showing a girl from somewhere in North America what it means to celebrate Vendimia in the South.
Mendoza is known throughout South America and the world for its wine. Vineyards blanket the province of Mendoza, fitting together like jigsaw puzzle pieces. And every summer, throughout January and February, a huge festival is held to celebrate the harvest of this most precious fruit. Vendimia draws in tourists, famous faces, natives, journalists, grape growers, wine makers, wine-os, and everybody who wants to attend the biggest, longest party in the province. The festival involves parades, music, beauty queens, huge shows and wine of every tint in every cup of every person. It’s kind of a big deal.
But this year, Vendimia didn’t quite go as planned. Due to a rather unfortunate rainstorm, and a rather controversial strike by a rather massive group of performers, the festival finale – a weekend of theatrical performances – was cancelled. This did not go over very well. Mendocinos were embarrassed and upset with the strikers, tourists flew home disappointed, and the government had to refund a substantial number of pesos.
But, optimism and open-mindedness can save even what downpours and angry bailarinas put asunder. Welcome to Vendimia Gay: Vendimia Para Todos.
One week after the finale to Vendimia didn’t happen, Vendimia Para Todos offered Mendocinos one last chance to celebrate. And because my first attempt at Vendimia had flopped, I was more than up for giving it a second shot.
When the auditorium downtown filled with what had to be triple the capacity limit, we began to realize that Vendimia Para Todos had been taken quite literally. And the show itself…I don’t even know where to begin. Think lady Gaga meets Cirque D’Solelei. Then plop in two handsome men to act out some sort of tragic, yet mostly indecipherable, love story that all centers (again…indecipherably) around the grape harvest. Top that off with several frightening costumes, people coming down from the ceiling wearing neon angel wings, and a few middle-aged men dancing in a pool of water and you’ve arrived at Gay Vendimia. Cheers!