Crowns and gowns were everywhere at Xavier University of Louisiana’s (XULA) “Spring Waltz” and none other than the Queen Diva herself, Big Freedia, was there to bring in the royal affair. On Saturday, XULA, Big Freedia, and the streaming giant Netflix partnered to bring together the royal festivities at XULA as part of the promotion for the upcoming Shondaland series, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.
Spring Waltz attendees were whisked away to a Bridgerton-esque setting fit for a queen. The evening’s celebration occurred on and around a floral circular stage that resembled Queen Charlotte’s crown in Bridgerton. At over 2000 lbs, standing 20 ft tall, with 1600 beads, and 160 metal-cut flowers, guests couldn’t take their eyes off of the beautiful structure.
The celebration was a love letter to royal culture at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU). Hosted by iHeartRadio personality and songwriter Sheba Songz, the Spring Waltz featured performances by the Original Pinettes Brass Band, XULA’s dance team the Golden Starlettes, as well as a high-octane performance of “Hey Queen” by the Queen of Bounce Big Freedia. Additionally, there was an unveiling of XULA’s first-ever marching band uniform that was presented as a “gift” from Queen Charlotte.
Netflix and Shondaland previously announced a special bounce remix to the Strong Black Lead Hey Queen videos series by Big Freedia that honored queens of all kinds, while promoting Queen Charlotte.
Homecoming culture is a rich part of the HBCU experience. Since the 1970s, HBCUs all over had adopted homecoming courts as a means to elect student leaders who spend the entire year representing their university and being role models for their campus.
The homecoming court election process consists of voting, interviews, and academic standing review. With HBCU homecomings consisting of week-long events, the day of homecoming serves as an introduction to the school’s royal court. The Spring Waltz also served as way to honor HBCU campus queens, including Nina Giddens (Miss Xavier University of Louisiana), Aleya Barber (Miss Tuskegee University), Jerika Edwards (Miss Dillard University), and Taverlyn Shepard (Miss Prairie View A&M University).
The Bridgerton prequel will center on Queen Charlotte’s rise to prominence and power, her trailblazing relationship between her and King George, and how their union altered the Ton as we know it today. Like the rest of the Bridgerton-verse, Queen Charlotte is sure to bring plenty of drama with monarchy politics, intense romance to sweep you off your feet, and plenty of royal balls to enjoy.
The cast for Queen Charlotte includes Golda Rosheuvel, Adjoa Andoh, and Ruth Gemmell, reprising their roles as Queen Charlotte, Lady Danbury, and Lady Violet Bridgerton respectively. Additionally, India Amarteifio, Arséma Thomas, and Connie Jenkins-Greig will play younger versions of Queen Charlotte, Lady Danbury, and Lady Violet Bridgerton. Joining the rest of the cast in this six-episode limited series are Corey Mylchreest, Sam Clemmett, Freddie Dennis, Richard Cunningham, Tunji Kasim, Rob Maloney, Cyril Nri, and Hugh Sachs.
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story premieres on Netflix on May 4. In the meantime, check out these photos from the XULA’s Spring Waltz.