Celebrating gender nonconformity through wigs and music

The Institute for Contemporary Art housed its second "Snatched Back Wig Party" on Friday as a part of their First Friday festivities. Photo by Jon Mirador

Milan Brewster, Contributing Writer

The opening room of the Institute for Contemporary Art was filled with people in colorful tinsel wigs swaying to the DJ’s electric beats while clips of music videos were projected overhead. 

The music was the focus of the Snatched Back Wig Party, which was held at the ICA on Friday as part of the monthly First Friday celebration.

 Guests stopped in throughout the night to check out the event’s dancing, mini-games and refreshments.

“I think it’s a fun idea,” said event attendee Julia DiMartino. “It really took off and to combine it with First Fridays makes it really fun.” 

The Snatched Back Wig Party was a celebration of gender fluidity through gender play and the art of wig culture. The party was hosted by Chaz Antoine, a University of Richmond fellow, and Ice Cream Social’s DJ Archangel. 

“Richmond really lacks multiple spaces that celebrate not just the LGBTQ community but … the multiplicity of it,” Antoine said. “We always need spaces that will celebrate folks that are gender non-conforming.”

This is the second event of its nature to occur, as Antoine and Archangel held the first one this past July in one of the ICA galleries. The event had dancing, wig contests, prizes and music by DJ Archangel. 

“We [the ICA] had a great first show out last summer, which was actually in a gallery space, which was cool,” said lead visitor experiences associate Emerson Tedder. “It’s all about fun here [at the party].” 

Antoine and Archangel have come together by taking a physical space, like the ICA, and transforming it through centering their black queer gender identity with wigs. 

“I always come out to First Fridays, and I was excited to get to come to this event tonight,” said VCU student and attendee Marielle Hankerson. “Being in the ICA is fun because there are a lot of different people that come.” 

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