The first time I ever played lotería was when I went to visit my mom's family in Mexico. Although the name itself translates to "lottery," it mimics the American bingo game — except it has beautiful artwork instead of numbers.
We used uncooked beans to mark off any card that matched what we had on our board and I caught myself winning more pesos than I had anticipated. It was a way for the family to get together and have a little fun.
So when I found out that a local bar in my hometown hosted a lotería event, I was thirsty for a little bit of that Mexican nostalgia and went to check it out.
"BYOBeans: A Drag Lotería" is exactly what it sounds like: a drag-queen-hosted lotería game night.
As soon as you walk in, you're greeted by a Virgen de Guadalupe candle and some lotería boards you can buy for $3 a piece. I immediately felt like I was home.
The bar was decorated with Mexican candy — straight from Mexico — and had a tequila/cerveza deal because of course.
The decor was colorful and there were snacks on each table — because you can never have enough food.
I'm talking legit chicharrones, Vero Mangoes, and Canel's chiclets, just to name a few.
They also featured a Latinx artist, whose work you could buy.
I knew it was the real deal when I saw they had beans to play with.
Not going to lie: I almost brought some of my own because I wasn't sure if the "BYOBeans" was literal or not.
At this point, I was ready to bring my A-game and win a prize or two because it didn't look busy at first, but I was so, so wrong. In the blink of an eye, the venue became packed and was buzzing with so much energy. Even though this event was pretty new, it was already very well-loved.
Latinx drag queens The Lady Ivory and Valentine Addams were the hosts and I was LIVING for these two.
I don't think the crowd stopped laughing the entire time because of how hilarious they were.
From their Spanglish to their personal Latinx anecdotes, it was a fun twist on an experience I've only ever with my sweet, quiet tias y tios.
During the game's intermission, both drag queens performed and it was everything!
It felt like a family party.
You KNOW they had to incorporate Selena Quintanilla to the mix, and at this point I had officially lost it.
"Como La Flor" came on and it was lit!
As if things couldn't get any better, the tamale man came into the bar and I was SHOOK.
Six tamales for $5?! Yes, please.
After the epic intermission filled with drag performances and delicious tamales, there were two more rounds left to play. I won the very last one.
I almost lost my damn voice yelling "LOTERÍA!" trying to make sure the whole bar heard me. My prize included two tickets to any concert I wanted at a local venue and a Mexican snack pack.
It seriously was the cherry on top of an amazing night!
And the only way to end such a night was with a piñata...
... that was full of condoms and lube!
I can honestly say it was one of the best nights of my life because it made me feel connected to my culture in a way I hadn't experienced before.
To take such a traditional, Mexican game and give it new life in an inclusive space that brought together straight and LGBTQ Latinxs made my heart feel full. Plus, it was just a really fun night out.
I can't wait to go to the next one and am crossing my fingers it becomes a national event.
If you're in Chicago or are visiting the Windy City in the near future, the event is every first Tuesday of the month at GMan Tavern — you don't want to miss it.