XAI Reprom Wonderland Royale

Rory Moore | Mercury Staff


Inflatable ruby-red dice bounce through the air as impassioned prom-goers dance, laugh and swap stories.  The sharp pulse of a beat reverberates through the Visitor Center’s Atrium at Chi Alpha Iota Diaternity’s 2024 “Reprom” as chapter members celebrate the winners of the “Wonderland Royale” themed royalty elections — a Monarch of Hearts, Monarch of Clubs, Monarch of Diamonds and Monarch of Spades, each adorned with a crown of cards.  

XAI is UTD’s only diaternity, meaning anyone can join regardless of gender, and it serves as a Greek life organization that emphasizes inclusivity for LGBT students with events such as drag shows and an annual Reprom in the spring. Staying true to the conventions of high school prom, XAI offers the excitement of a traditional prom court with its own twist: the titles of prom monarch and nominations are open to anyone, even those outside the organization.  

The “Wonderland Royale” theme permeated every part of the event in the Visitor’s Center. A rectangular table full of snacks and water connected to a group of circular tables covered in playing cards, which were progressively scattered as the night went on and people used them to play games like go-fish. The dance floor was sectioned off from the rest of the atrium by pride flags, giving attendees the opportunity to take pictures with their favorite flags while providing a barrier between the activity of the dance floor and the games at the tables. Dancers on the floor fought to keep inflatable dice and balloons in the air while the DJs from Radio UTD filled the hall with music from atop their flower-covered table. A photo booth with roses and cards allowed attendees to take themed photos with the variety of props provided.  

Comets wore elaborate outfits, with a plethora of dresses and suits in various hues across the dance floor. Some went all out with the theme of royal elegance by covering themselves head to toe in an elaborate gilded dress. Dancers — including Tanvi Panda, biochemistry junior and this year’s Monarch of Spades — leaned into the Wonderland theme by wearing cat ears alongside blue, purple and pink outfits as a reference to the famous Cheshire cat.  

“I decided to go all out for this,” Tanvi said. “I had to dye everything myself.” 

Tanvi’s pink outfit was hand dyed, and they borrowed their blue cat ears, which matched the blue fur lining atop a black coat, from a friend. Their cat eye eyeliner and white-red gradient eyeshadow was done by Tanya Panda, their sibling and Monarch of Hearts. 

Many stuck with red or achromatic outfits, like business sophomore and Monarch of Clubs Frankie Emmanuel. Their use of red and black echoed the classic motifs of playing cards. While the outfits varied in artistic expression, Reprom gave every attendee the opportunity to reflect on their growth and new openness in contrast to who they may have been in high school.  

“This [outfit] was my prom dress. I have just evolved my style a bit since then, so I added more, including accessories I made,” Emmanuel said.  

For some, Reprom was the prom they never had and a new chance to experience memories they may have missed out on. For others, Reprom is a replacement for a not-so-great high school experience. 

Rory Moore | Mercury Staff

“I went to prom in high school,” said Matthew Parrish, a visual and performing arts sophomore. “It was just a bunch of high schoolers cramming in a room and being the loudest, most jerky people on the planet. This time, we have room.”  

Reprom also allowed fellow attendees to reconsider what the conventions of school dances meant to them — particularly for those who attended less accepting schools and weren’t out of the closet. Reprom defied high school prom’s typical heteronormativity with a variety of pride flags and four gender-neutral royalty titles instead of Prom King and Queen. 

“I usually didn’t really care much for high school dances because they were very heteronormative,” Tanvi said.  

Reprom also allowed students to explore their deep bonds. While the title of Monarch of Hearts might suggest fluffy romance, Tanya said they found a deeper meaning to it, especially since they attended Reprom with their ex and now friend Jade who they have known since childhood.  

“We tried the couple thing after high school. It did not work. But [we’re] still really great friends,” Tanya said.  

 As the night went on, attendees exchanged stories of how they came into themselves and how they’ve grown as people since high school.  

“Being in XAI and being a sibling has really helped me come into my own and really be more outward and passionate about myself as a person,” Davy Romine, computer science senior and XAI Vice President, said.   

Even if they weren’t affiliated with XAI, attendees said they were grateful to have a space like Reprom to be their authentic themselves. 

“I just think that queer spaces are so important because that’s a lot of what helped me figure myself out and a lot of what helped me figure out how to be comfortable in my own skin,” Tanvi said. “I think that every person deserves that space for themselves, so I’m really glad I found this community at UTD.” 


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