Aztec Nights kicks off spring semester with “Under the Big Top”

Aztec Nights have always been a favorite among San Diego State students as a way to kick off the semester with free late-night events and entertainment.

Despite SDSU being online due to COVID-19, Associated Students is continuing the tradition with virtual events on Zoom.

The fun started on Jan. 22 with Street Performer Night running from 9 p.m to 1 a.m. With musical performances, magic, comedy and drawings to win SDSU Hydro flasks, there were many opportunities for students to enjoy some late-night fun from the comfort of their own home.

Marketing junior Jacqueline Banal says as a transfer student this was her first experience with Aztec Nights but felt the virtual atmosphere was really fun.

“I think AS and especially ASUB did a great job at having a variety of acts for everyone to enjoy,” Banal said.

Banal also mentioned that her favorite act of the night was magician/mentalist Gary Ferrar, who continuously left the audience speechless with his interactive and creative magic tricks.

Professional comedian Vladimir Camaano also joined the show and kept students laughing with stories about growing up with a strict father in the Bronx in New York City.

The excitement continued on with “Under the Big Top.” This “drag-tastic” event hosted by local performers Luxe the Drag Queen and Imani Zella gave students a front-row seat to their favorite RuPaul’s Drag Race performers as well as some rising stars.

Kinesiology junior Jashan Gill has been going to drag shows at SDSU since her freshman year and said she loves the entertainment and confidence that the performers exude onstage. Although it was her first time attending a virtual drag show, she still had a great experience.

“It was definitely different being virtual, but I loved watching the live drag and having the chat box blow up,” Gill said. “It was fun to see that people were reacting the same way I was.”

A highlight of the night was the appearance of guest star Nina West, who is best known from the eleventh season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Students had opportunities to win “World of Wonder” merch with games of bingo hosted by Nina West herself.

Gill won the first bingo contest and was given an opportunity to talk one-on-one with West – which she claims was the highlight of her night.

“My favorite moment was definitely meeting Nina, I was starstruck and at a loss for words but she was so welcoming and personable when we were talking,” Gill said.

In true drag fashion, the night ended with a lip-sync battle to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s hit song “Rain On Me.” Liberal studies freshman Tori Kattawar said she couldn’t contain her excitement when she and her cousin were asked to participate.

“We had been waiting all night hoping to win the bingo competition so we could talk to her,” Kattawar recalled. “Once she asked for volunteers to lip sync we knew this was our moment.”

Both contestants were given time to collect props and costumes for the battle, but in the end, the competition was so close Nina West had no choice but to say, “Shantay, you stay!” and declare them both winners.

“Honestly, I think I should of won, but we ended up both shantaying,” Kattawar laughed.

Despite being online, students still feel like attending Aztec Nights is a great way to connect with other students and create a sense of community.

“I think if there is an Aztec Nights event that piques your interest, you should definitely attend,” Kattawar said. “This ended up being one of the most fun nights I’ve ever had!”

For more information about upcoming Aztec Nights events, visit SDSU’s Aztec Nights webpage.

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