This is the final weekend for the Pima County Fair, but there’s plenty of fun still to be had, from carnival rides to face painting, from fried foods to art displays, from champion livestock to model trains and planes. You can even come home with a free birdhouse from the friendly folks at the Audubon Society. Concerts include T.I. on Thursday night, Mammoth WVH and Ayron Jones on Friday night, Easton Corbin on Saturday night and Los Tucanes de Tijuana on Sunday night. Gates open at 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday and at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Through May 1. Pima County Fairgrounds, 11300 S. Houghton Road. GA $10, $5 for kids 6 to 10, free for kids 5 and under. $5 parking.
Over the last 100 years or so, Hotel Congress has survived structural fires, seen prohibition come come and go, and hosted everyone from U.S. senators to John Dillinger and his criminal gang. Now, a new addition to the historic landmark fuses a New York night club with a borderlands mezcal bar.
Shana Oseran, who owns Hotel Congress with her husband, Richard Oseran, and music programmer Arthur Vint are teaming up to open a jazz club in the hotel’s former Copper Hall space. The Century Room, with a grand opening planned in March, will host weekly jazz performances, serve local mezcals, beers and wines, and offer a step back in time.
“We have the plaza and Club Congress, which is the impetus for everything, and now to evolve into this third genre, it’s really exciting,” Oseran said. “Where in town, or anywhere, can you find a place that has three different music venues?”
The Copper Hall was a banquet hall along the southwest portion of the building with windows looking out to the hubbub of Congress Street. With a reduction in banquets and similar events due to the pandemic, Oseran was searching for a new concept to fill the vacant hall when she started talking with Vint.
“While there are lots of great jazz musicians and great jazz performances in Tucson, there hasn’t been a singular home to host concerts or touring acts,” Vint said. “There are lots of musicians who tour around the country, and these bands usually stop their tours in Phoenix and go home. By building a club and a stage that is world class, we’re hoping to get people to come down to Tucson on their West Coast tours.”
Lil Miss Hot Mess will present her research on drag studies at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1508 E. Helen St., in the Dorothy Rubel Room at 7 pm on Tuesday, Oct 26.
Lil Miss Hot Mess is a well-known drag queen, activist, scholar, children’s book writer and storyteller of Drag Queen Story Hour, a program that brings drag queens and children together for storytime. Her children’s books include The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish. (The forthcoming If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It will be available in May.) Lil Miss Hot Mess is a professor at UA who teaches history and theory of play. Lil Miss Hot Mess’s presentation is part of UA’s 2021 Tucson Humanities Festival and will be available for live stream at humanitiesfestival.arizona.edu/live.
What can attendees expect to see at the presentation?
It’s an overview of my work with Drag Queen Story Hour and some research that I've done on drag pedagogy. In addition to being a drag performer, I am also a professor at the U of A. Some of my research is about what can we learn from Drag Queen Story Hour in the broadest possible sense. Not just, how do we think about LGBT or gender 101? But, how we can learn to be better teachers or educators if we adapt some of the strategies of drag performers. I talk about things like how to incorporate humor to de-stigmatize difficult topics.
What topics are you destigmatizing?
When I talk about drag I like to actually highlight that it's not just about gender, it's not just about a physical transformation because drag has many different forms. Drag is about exaggeration. It's about turning your fantasy into a reality and often it's about dealing with difficult topics through a sense of camp, through a sense of humor. Being willing to laugh at ourselves and laugh at the world, but also take some of these things seriously. For example with Drag Queen Story Hour, we like to read books that address different topics of diversity, bullying, of finding your own creative voice. But, we also like to read the classic Everyone Poops. Which is a way of taking a thing that can be serious, scary, or shameful for kids and reading the book together and laughing at it. I also think it is for kids who might be questioning their identity, their gender identity or feel different because they are multiracial, adopted or have a disability. They learn about finding strength through humor and leaning into those things that make us different is part of what drag culture is all about.
What inspired you to do this type of research?
I fell into Drag Queen Story Hour through some of my friends in the San Francisco Bay Area. It started in 2015. I was living in New York at the time, and we brought it to New York. You know, it's blossomed all around the country and all around the world. I think there are so many affinities between drag performers and children. Drag is literally dressing up and playing. Kids are all about imagination. They're all about play, they're all about asking a lot of questions and I think that's another thing drag does well is that it questions authority, it questions history. It asks why? Why should we do something one way because it has always been done that way? Being able to explore that with kids not only provides them an important educational opportunity but I've also learned a lot in so many different ways from working with children in drag. The research came after doing the events because I wanted to go a little bit deeper.
It's like a commentary on education and how we can approach talking about these deeper topics with kids.
Much of education is test scores and memorizing. Even important work in diversity or social justice topics still tends to be framed as learning the vocabulary for LGBTQ or learning how to get some of these things right. I think that drag opens up a little bit more space for improvisation, for experimentation, for taking risks, for being willing to fail together and laugh at off or learn from it. I think that is actually a major shift from the way that we think of education in this country.
What are you hoping people walk away with from your event?
My main goal throughout all of this work is to get people to loosen up a little bit and enjoy that sense of play and be open to thinking about things in a different way. I will talk about five specific strategies that people can use but again, I don't want people walking away with notes. I want people to walk away feeling that we can activate our imaginations to do things differently. How do we tap into our own creativity? How do we use that to reimagine our world?
I think drag can intersect with a lot of different aspects of our lives. One thing that I try to make clear is that when I talk about drag pedagogy or drag education, I'm not suggesting that every teacher put on a wig or a pair of heels. But that people think about some of these elements to transforming something about the way you work, or bringing out an aspect of your personality that you don't always allow to shine can change the way that you relate to people or relate to different situations. So it's not about becoming a drag but it’s really about learning a little bit from us.
Join Arizona Public Media and the Pima County Public Library in celebration of the rich Mexican-American and Latinx cultural heritage of Southern Arizona during Mes de la Cultura! Enjoy a virtual celebration of Mexican-American and LatinX art, music, and dance with performances by Mariachi Estrellas de Tucson, Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos, and Ballet Folklórico Tapatío.
You’ll get a first look at Arizona Illustrated’s story about Carlos Valenzuela, a Chicano tile artist, and his work across Tucson’s south side. Plus, you’ll get an inside view of the Pima County Public Library’s Frank De La Cruz Borderlands collection!
After the show, performers will be sharing more about the rich cultural history of these art, music and dance forms, share some of their own experiences performing, and answering YOUR questions during a live Q&A. We hope you’ll join the conversation!
About the Performers
Mariachi Estrellas de Tucson is a youth mariachi group from Tucson. With performers ranging in age from 10 to 17 years old, the group has participated in the Tucson International Mariachi Conference in Tucson, Arizona, and the Rosarito International Mariachi Conference in Rosarito, Baja California, México.
Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos (LCF) is widely regarded as the first youth mariachi group and the first seed of the growing youth mariachi movement in the United States. The group includes twelve high-school aged musicians under the direction of Salvador Gallegos. Founded in 1964, LCF now carries a five-decade legacy of musicianship and dedication.
Ballet Folklórico Tapatío (BFT) is a non-profit folkloric dance group established in 1997 under the direction of Jose Luis Baca and Marissa Gallegos. This group is based in South Tucson, and has over 150 members. They have performed throughout the United States, Mexico and Colombia, and are recognized as one of the finest folkloric programs in the nation.
They’ve scrimped, they’ve saved, and they’ve made it through some of the deepest and darkest days of 2020. Now, the comedy troupe at Unscrewed Comedy is faced with a new trial: They need to put on actual pants, because they’re bringing back live, in-person comedy!
There’s no doubt that finding little pockets of fun and laughter is part of what got us through the last terrible year or so. But there’s nothing quite like a roaringly funny, family-friendly live comedy show. That’s part of what makes these nights full of improvised delight such a special, magical treat.
They’ve got all of their house teams on deck: Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed, FromtheTop, Comic Chaos, and Big Daddies. Plus, special guest stars Ken Carr and Aaron Maus (host of the Computer Doctor Show)!
Do some stretching before you come, because you’ll likely be laughing so hard you’ll work out muscles you didn’t know you had. And get ready to make suggestions, because audience members get to participate and help shape the show.
Be sure to also keep an eye out for the other shows of the month, featuring plenty of special guest stars and funny stuff. If you’ve decided it’s finally time you learn how to be funny yourself, then check out the live, in-person classes they’re also beginning to offer this month!
Shows are at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the month. (And psssst, on Saturday, Aug. 14 and Aug. 28, they’ll also be doing an UNCENSORED show at 9 p.m.) Tickets are just $8 for adults and $5 for kids. Get ‘em at unscrewedtheater.org.
It's been a rough year for many nonprofits thanks to a COVID outbreak that not only prevented them from hosting their usual galas and fundraisers but also increased demands on their services, as Tucson Weekly staff writer Christina Duran outlined in this story.
So with today's Arizona Gives Day, you might consider giving to a nonprofit that could really use the help. Learn more about how you can lend a hand here.