You can vote for this year’s Denver PrideFest performers

Will you ask them to sashay away? Or should Shantay stay?
3 min. read
Denver PrideFest emcee DeMarcio Slaughter vamps for a crowd at Civic Center Park’s Greek amphitheatre. June 25, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

It's a big year for Denver's annual Pride festival. The Center on Colfax is celebrating the event's 50th year, and longtime emcee DeMarcio Slaughter says his signature variety show at Civic Center Park's Greek Amphitheatre needs to be extra excellent to live up to all that history.

"Me and my team are really working to create a very diverse show. We really want to capture five decades worth of style, music and genres, which is going to be difficult in two days," he said. "We want to have entertainment that represents our community, all of the letters in the LGBTQIA+. So we want to find entertainment that represents all of that and bring to the stage."

You, dear reader, can help breathe life into that vision.

Auditions for Center Stage will take place at the Town Hall Collaborative (525 Santa Fe Dr.) on Thursday, April 18th, from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

For years, he said, The Center has asked audiences to join them for the tryouts, to weigh in and help them select which acts will take the stage.

"Actually it was friends who suggested, let's do an audition. And so we started that process a while ago, and it has just grown into this crazy — at times — very difficult process of selecting performers to strut their stuff," he told us. "They were really looking to expand the network and performers that would come and join us."

Dance is Love performs on the main stage. Denver PrideFest, June 17, 2017.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

There will be official judges for the 20-30 acts trying out on Thursday, but audience feedback is integral to their rubric.

"Each performer can score up to 100 points. We have five judges. Each judge can, on a scale of one to five, rate audience reaction, performance, song choice, blah, blah, blah," Slaughter said. "And audience participation is one of those categories that we rank. And there have been performers that just got up there and the audience was all about it."

Last year, 15 of 17 acts made it through to prime time. Slaughter said he's careful not to green-light anyone who's not quite ready, both for their sake and the audience's.

"[If] someone is green and ambitious, that's great, but when you're standing up there in front of 7-8,000 people, trying to do your stuff and the audience walks away because it's hot and they're standing on the concrete, that is something I'm always incredibly considerate of," he said. "You don't want to crush dreams when you get up there."

Signups for Thursday are now closed for people who want to get on stage.

And, yes, they usually get a lot of drag kings and queens, but Slaughter said he's open to anything that's creative and speaks to the PrideFest audience.

"Every now and then, someone will just — for me having done it so long they'll just blow me away. Because it's original, it's clever, it's fun," he said. "And so that's what I'm looking for."

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that this is the 50th year of PrideFest, not the Center's 50th year running it.

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