Last night, I was crowned King of the Night for our company’s gala night. I worked with DICE205 for almost 6 months now, and my time here has been fun so far. I enjoy working here, the company’s values align with mine, they are respectful of my time both inside and outside of work, they have programs in place to prioritize their associates’ mental health, and well, the pay is pretty good.
Last night’s gala was part of the company’s Christmas party and Thanksgiving celebration. I found out that this will be the first in-person party the company will be having since the pandemic shut us in our homes. All I can say is that they went all out with this celebration.
This was also my first Christmas party in a decade. In one of my previous blog posts, I detailed how I was a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religion that does not celebrate Christmas. The last Christmas party I’ve had was back when I was 10 years old, and I am 23 now. So as the company went all out, I did too.
My partner was supposed to come with me to the gala, but unfortunately there were conflicts with the schedule. Our plan was that I was going to wear a black ensemble, and they were going to wear a white one, and we were going to sprinkle gold colors as accent. We had to cancel early on before we finalized our outfits, so I did not know what my partner had in mind. But as for me, I would’ve worn a one-sided cape over a long-sleeve shirt and a corset. I also would’ve brought a staff or cane to the gala to further enforce the concept of being high class, because the visual of a man having a cane is high class.
Unfortunately, we found out that our schedules would have conflicts and my partner could no longer go with me. I had to go back to the drawing board and conceptualize an entirely different look.
When the gala night was announced, the first thing that came to my mind was the Met Gala, a fashion event attended by celebrities and is known for its attendees donning extravagant outfits. I am also a huge fan of Lady Gaga since I was a kid, and I have always dreamed of dressing up in these types of functions, so I wanted to at least give it some justice. It also helped that Drag Race Philippines recently aired, and I was still in that inspiration high from the extravagant looks the queens gave in the show. I knew first thing that I would not be wearing a coat-and-tie type of look.
Pinterest of course was our best friend during this stage. I had built a mood board of what I wanted to wear. The outfits I wanted to wear spanned from the simple but elegant to the all-out extravagant and avant-garde fashion.
But actually, I did not have a finalized concept until 3 weeks before the gala. I went to an ukay-ukay which is basically a thrift store here in the Philippines. I was just browsing to see which options were available to me and form a concept amalgamated from all of the looks I’ve put into my mood board.
But alas, I found a white lace-type blouse, and I fell in love with it as soon as I tried it on. Granted, it was too small for me. The shoulder seam went as far as halfway between my shoulder and neck, and the sleeves were too short that it ended just a couple of inches beyond my elbow. But that didn’t matter because I knew this is what I was wearing. I purchased the blouse and went home immediately to create a new mood board around that blouse. This blouse has now been the centerpiece of my entire outfit.
While building the mood board, I came across Ben Platt’s outfit for the Met Gala, and it was just a simple coat with a bow tie, a corset, and a string of pearls that went from under his bow tie to the bottom part of his back. It was simple but elegant, and while I was already sure that I won’t wear a coat-and-tie situation, I knew that pearls would go well with the lace blouse. I went out the next day in search of pearl accessories. There I found literal strings of pearls in necklaces, bracelets, and another one that looked like it was a decoration for curtains, but I still bought it thinking it would be good for something later on. (Spoiler alert: it was indeed good for something later on.)
I went to shop online via the. I had a couple of days’ worth of browsing everything. For the head dress, I opted to buy a wide-brimmed black hat. I wanted to do the black-and-white concept that my partner and I had previously planned. I also ordered a pair of black velvet gloves and a corset. I didn’t have holes for piercings, but I wanted to wear pearl earrings, so I also ordered clip-on fake earrings. I also ordered sheets of pearl stickers for my face. I wanted a full-of-pearls type of situation for my look, so I wanted to come to the gala studded with pearls.
These orders were all overseas, but the online shop indicated that my orders would arrive one week before the gala night, so I was pretty confident that I would make it. However, there had been a problem with the delivery that whenever they would contact me, my phone would not receive the texts and calls. The next thing I know, it was just 7 days before the gala night and all of my orders are shipping back to their sellers because I had failed to receive all of them. Now all I had was the wide-brimmed black hat that arrived pretty early on, the lace blouse I bought from the thrift store, and the few pearl accessories. I did not have a look.
I was lowkey panicking at this point. I went to Facebook Marketplace and Carousell to find replacements for my orders. Looking back, I should’ve just done this first thing because all of these were meetups, so I’d get everything a day or two since I ordered them. I came across a corset that I immediately bought. But later I found out it was too far from home, because the seller was in Mandaluyong. To meet up with her, I had to ride a motorcycle taxi that almost went haywire because apparently Mandaluyong prohibits two men riding on motorcycles to prevent riding-in-tandem criminals. But things went well in the end when I got the corset.
My next stop was in Divisoria where I’d pick up the pearl stickers and my velvet gloves. But another hiccup occurred and in transit the seller informed me that they failed to reserve me a pair of velvet gloves and that now only black lace gloves are available. I had no choice but to agree and make do with it somehow.
After I got the sticker sheet and the gloves, I went around looking for high-heeled boots. I scoured almost the entire Divisoria for those boots, but none of them had sizes for me. The largest size available for high-heeled boots were size 40; I am size 43. So, I opted for simple black shoes, which I loved by the way upon trying it on. It was simple but I think it was very high-class (except for the Chinese brand embossed on it; I didn’t mind too much though).
When I came home, the first thing I tried on was the corset. This was not only for aesthetics; it was also to hide my ballooning tummy, so I needed to make sure it did its job (it didn’t 😂). When I found out I wasn’t satisfied with this, I came back to Divisoria to buy a waist trainer to help with the corset. And I made sure that it was sufficiently tight so I would come with a flat tummy.
As I mentioned, Drag Race Philippines had recently aired. Before this, I was ignorant of drag, but I was interested. Watching that was a delight because of the LGBTQIA+ representation and a light-shedding on the process these drag queens have. Anyway, I’m mentioning this because it has inspired me to start doing makeup. For the company’s Halloween costume party, I went as a drag queen.
For the gala night, I spent an entire month trying on different looks. At first, I did not know what gender I wanted to come as, since that was important for my makeup look. I tried different levels of femininity and masculinity, but eventually settled for an androgynous look. After all, I express myself in varying degrees of feminine and masculine energy.
What I ended up with was a simple editorial look. I had brown winged eyeliner surrounded by pearl stickers that accentuated my eyes even when I was wearing a mask. I had overblown blush with very little contouring to achieve that magazine model look. And finally, I had red-tinted lips with a lot of lip gloss. Actually, what I used was a lip plumper, which is similar to lip gloss but a lot thicker. It would look like your lips had gel on it and it would shimmer whenever light hits it. It looked very good on close ups.
I came very early to the gala. The program started at around 7 PM, but I was already there at around 5 PM. We were supposed to have a bit of rehearsals for the performances, but we ended up just winging it. When I came, I received lots of praises. I have trouble accepting compliments because I don’t usually receive them, and especially not for my looks. Growing up, I was never that cute or attractive boy. In fact, I was always made fun of for being ugly, and while I handled them pretty well, I can’t say it didn’t get to me or that I didn’t believe it. People complimenting me for my look was validating but at the same time I tried to invalidate myself, thinking that they are complimenting the “look” and not my looks.
The gala night was fun. I don’t remember Christmas parties being this fun. I remember when I was a kid, Christmas parties were fun but also tiring and boring at times. But I had a blast this night. The food was great, the ambiance was great, and my colleagues were “serving” with their looks, as the gays say. My belly was fed with great food, and my eyes were fed by their outfits.
The Stars of the Night was one of the highlights of the event. It was like a prom thing. Attendees were asked to vote for the King and Queen of the Night after us candidates were asked to walk down the runway, which was just the stage. Eventually, I won and was crowned King of the Night. It felt so good to be crowned. Historically, I’m not that person to be crowned for these types of ordeals. But yes, it feels so good. I still can’t get over it now that I’m writing about it. All I could think about was previous versions of me and what they’d think of me now. It seems like a shallow achievement, but for me and my insecurities about my appearance, it means a lot.
A part of me says that the only reason I won was that I had only won because I looked different and extra, and had I went with a coat-and-tie, I wouldn’t have won. But another part of me scoffs at that sentence because that’s why I went extra. I am slowly learning to feel my successes and not treat them as just another steppingstone to something else. I will come to terms with my insecurities eventually but having big wins like this gives me energy to push through. I am also very grateful to DICE205 Digital Corporation for going above and beyond the bare minimum. I am not saying this because I know they’d read this, but because it is the truth. Never have I ever been in a company that cares about its employees as much as DICE205.
So… yeah. I’m this year’s King of the Night. I dedicate this win to my family who is always there for me for the wins and losses, my gorgeous partner whom I love so much, and to my younger self who laughed with his bullies but slowly started to believe he was actually ugly.
And also to Lady Gaga. This is for God. And the gays.