Gender and Sexuality Alliance Stage Rave Returns


The GSA Stage Rave was held for the first time in three years on April 21. Photo: Maggie Gray ’23.

On April 21, the Gender and Sexuality Alliance’s (GSA) Stage Rave returned to Sidwell for the first time in three years. Created by the GSA and its former adviser Gil Thompson around 20 years ago, the Stage Rave has taken place every year since then, excluding those following the winter of 2020. 

The Stage Rave is open to everyone, although it is oriented toward students in the LGBTQ community. 

“It’s generally a place where students can express themselves in a community where they feel as though they belong, and have a good time,” sophomore GSA co-head Robby Matsui said. 

The GSA heads and students were involved in organizing a wide variety of aspects for the dance. For inspiration, the GSA looked to its most recent dance in to ensure traditions were maintained. In addition, the GSA hosted a club meeting to brainstorm new ideas for the Stage Rave. 

The club was in charge of decorating the Caplin Theater, where the dance was held, choosing the drinks and snacks and also selecting the music. For dinner, pizza was served, and the music was picked by students rather than a DJ. Furthermore, pride flags, streamers and lights decorated the theater.

Since the dance was held on the stage, the GSA heads implemented safety features such as a dedicated space outside the theater for more room. The GSA also worked with the tech crew and directors to make sure that all aspects of the event ran smoothly. 

The Stage Rave was the second school dance this school year run by a student club. 

“That’s part of what makes the dance so fun: it’s of the students, by the students, for the students,” Upper School English Teacher and GSA Faculty Adviser Zachary Harvat said.

Harvat was also involved in the planning, helping to reserve the space and communicating with the administration. Additionally, Harvat contacted advisers of other schools’ GSAs to coordinate other possible attendees.

Schools in the Washington area, including National Cathedral, Episcopal, St. Albans, Maret, The Field School, Friends Meeting School, Washington Latin, GDS, Holton Arms and Potomac were also invited. Some of these schools sent as many as 18 students and a school adviser. 

“We [were] pretty excited about the attendance this year,” Matsui said. 

The GSA heads were especially excited for the dance and its significance for Sidwell’s LGBTQ students. 

“The purpose of the Stage Rave is to have a space for the LGBTQIA+ community to have a dance made for us,” said GSA co-head and sophomore Mira Flood. 

Flood also said the Stage Rave is important because many of Sidwell’s other dances have historically been oriented around cisgender heterosexual relationships, such as the Winter Formal, formerly known as the Sadie Hawkins Dance. However, Flood believes Sidwell does a good job of fostering inclusivity for all sexualities and genders at dances. 

“We wanted to continue the legacy and community created at the Stage Rave for future students of Sidwell and D.C.-area schools,” Flood added. 

Matsui believes the dance is also important for the LGBTQ community because it provides a space where people can feel they belong and celebrate their identity. 

“For a lot of queer people, our identities can sometimes feel like a burden, as though it’s just giving us more difficulties,” Matsui said. 

Harvat enjoyed the dance, recalling his experience at the Stage Rave during his first year at Sidwell. “It was one of my highlights that year because it showed me what a cool community we have here,” Harvat said.