The reference to Hamilton Lodge Ball would have been immediately recognizable to Amsterdam News readers. Held at Rockland Palace (W. 155 St. & 8th Avenue), the Hamilton Lodge Ball was the largest of Harlem’s drag balls. The Amsterdam News noted that the 1932 affair drew over 7,000 people: “To use the exact words of one of the muscular-shouldered, beautifully-gowned creatures present, ‘a gorgeous, thrilling spectacle—a veritable glimpse of fairyland. Whoops!’” (Click to view article PDF.) The Amsterdam News review continued:
The frolic, which was respectfully called a “masquerade and civic ball,” is the annual occasion upon which members of one sex who wish to impersonate members of the other group may throw off their inhibitions and assume the roles of their desire. It is also the occasion for Harlem’s social elite, Broadway’s thrill seekers, and all the pseudo-scientists of the metropolitan area to gather and watch the spectacle. And, depression or no depression, Friday night’s affair was no exception...Compared to affair of other years, Friday’s “drag” maintained an almost respectable air until the pageant was finished. After that, though, the lid blew off and the impersonators started making promiscuous “passes” at the spectators. Open, and often encouraged, flirtations were carried on: telephone numbers were passed; and broad shouldered bodies which would grace any football player or truck driver were rubbed suggestively against any man who happened to be standing near. In the same way, scores of masculine-looking women sought to touch the few unattached feminine spectators.
The review was accompanied by a beautiful drawing of the beautiful people who won the pageant awards.