Thank U, Latex: a unique Brandeis tradition

March 22, 2019

Another year, another Liquid Latex. Nineteen years in and the Brandeis tradition of stripping down to our bottoms and plastering ourselves in latex paint is going stronger than ever. Nothing says campus diversity quite like a hundred different body types flailing around to club music against the roar of a sold-out auditorium. The turnout this year was immense with over 80 dancers total, and we even got to see an all-guys act, which was a fun surprise for a project that can have trouble recruiting a large amount male volunteers.

For the uninitiated, Liquid Latex is an annual dance show in which Brandeisians are allowed to flaunt their stuff in the most literal way imaginable. Students dedicate weeks to choreographing and practicing dance routines with various themes to be presented in Levin Ballroom. Predictably, the dances can tend toward the erotic. A makeshift catwalk extends from the stage to allow dancers the full opportunity to put their moves on display. Where most institutions have fashion shows, Brandeis dispenses with the clothing altogether to create something much more intimate—and much more body positive.

Despite the sexy undertones, the show represents so much more than an opportunity for voyeurism. By intermission, the novelty of seeing your peers swing their breasts around starts to lose its shock value. The uncomfortable plastic chairs probably help, but, really, the atmosphere is far more empowering than it is lascivious. There is no discrimination between looks or skill; each participant is given a moment in the catwalk’s spotlight. Every dancer is met with deafening cheers from the crowd. The confidence exuded by everybody in the production is inspiring, and the sheer diversity of body types present is reassuring in its own personal ways. No matter the shape—round, bony, tall, squat—there is a body for everybody, and these bodies are carried without shame. In the curated image culture of this unfortunate 21st century, Liquid Latex stands out as a bold attempt to dissolve the hypertension surrounding the presentation of the body. It has a ton of fun along the way, too.

Interpreting theme can be a tenuous thing with Liquid Latex acts. If you fail to look over the playbill before hand, some of the acts can seem downright bizarre. Thankfully, they are usually bizarre regardless. Highlights: The show opened with “It’s Latex, Bitch,” featuring nine dancers representing nine iterations of Britney Spears (including a surprise appearance from the umbrella wielding 2007 Meltdown Britney).

Space Jam heralded Avi Baynash ’20 donning a glorious silver latex leotard in Act two, and Wren Li ’22 as the planet Saturn delivered an awesome series of beyblade/ballerina spins in orbital fashion on the catwalk.

Act three, “Latex the Musical,” reminded us of the timeless value of “Hamilton” with DeBorah Ault’s ’22 striking, full body 18th century latex coat and breeches. “Kitt’s Angels” was an elusive and empowering tribute to Eartha Kitt. The intermittent use of quotations was well executed and added a narrative element to the entire display.

The first half of the show ended with “Mt. Olympus,” complete with the Greek pantheon rendered with perfect recognizability. Rebecca Carolyn’s ’20 representation of Athena was priceless and possessed a whole lot of school spirit with an owl design.

After the intermission, “It’s Good to be Bad” fulfilled the Disney quota with its entourage of villains. Among the cast was another appearance of Eartha Kitt as the much appreciated Yzma from “The Emperor’s New Groove” (Mariah Manter ’20), as well as a very outgoing Tinkerbell (Genevieve Bondaryk ’21). Act seven, “Celebrating Originality,” lacked distinct cinematic or theatrical references, but you wouldn’t notice between the high energy shaking and glittery coloration. “Ferris Bueller’s Clothes Off” practically stole the show with its reenactment of a particularly iconic scene from “Dirty Dancing.” Bradley Kaplan ’21 and Casper L’esperance-Kerckhoff ’19 made a strong duo, and the three “Santas” swaying in time to “Love is Strange” tied the whole bit together with a theatrical flair to match “Kitt’s Angels.”

“Magic Mike,” the all male act, had an indescribable allure to it. The conga line of ass-slapping was nigh Shakespearean. Finally, Act 10, “Candy Land,” probably held the strongest thematic execution. Zach Goldblatt’s ’19 hulking portrayal of the gummy bear juxtaposed perfectly with the rest of the Candyland cast.

There is too much content to give all the dancers the credit they deserve, but part of the wonder of Liquid Latex is its distinctly noncompetitive vibe. At its grandest, the show is a celebration of all the things we hope Brandeis stands for: self-love, acceptance, diversity and overflowing confidence in the face of unaccepting societal standards. At its most basic, Liquid Latex is a chance for the student body to gather around and get to know itself a little better. It’s a simple thing that has the potential to mean so much to so many different people. Liquid Latex is as much a show for the dancers as it is for the greater community.

The show ended on a heartwarming note. After all the dancers had returned to the stage for their final bows, Liquid Latex president Rebecca Kahn ’19 was invited forward. Treasurer Max Michel ’21, still wearing his latex cowboy uniform complete with assless chaps, presented a bouquet of flowers to the president. Kahn’s contributions to the club over the years have saved the club from the brink of obscurity, and the scope and quality of this year’s performances are a testament to that fact.

This has been an exciting season for Liquid Latex. Next spring will mark two decades of the show at Brandeis, and the 20th anniversary promises to be an incredible spectacle. If the number of volunteers continues to climb, it may also be the largest show in its history.

Another year, another Liquid Latex. Nineteen years in and the Brandeis tradition of stripping down to our bottoms and plastering ourselves in latex paint is going stronger than ever. Nothing says campus diversity quite like a hundred different body types flailing around to club music against the roar of a sold-out auditorium. The turnout this year was immense with over 80 dancers total, and we even got to see an all-guys act, which was a fun surprise for a project that can have trouble recruiting a large amount male volunteers.


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