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The Ball Challenge is a recurring challenge every season on RuPaul's Drag Race. It is traditionally the second-to-last challenge the queens compete in before the final challenge.

Typically, the ball challenge involves the remaining queens receiving two or three runway categories they must design outfits for, one of which must be designed from scratch out of some unconventional materials or based on a certain theme. In addition, the queens are usually required to perform a musical performance they must choreograph and rehearse themselves.

This challenge takes inspiration from actual drag balls, which often include multiple categories of outfits and some sort of dance performance. This ball scene is best shown in the documentary Paris Is Burning, which Drag Race takes much of its inspiration from.

For the first 5 seasons of the show, the ball challenge took place at Final 4. However, starting with Season 6 it took place at Final 5, to accommodate for a queen being eliminated during the final challenge. Within the third season of All Stars the ball features as a challenge during the middle of the season as compared to the ending.

Types of Balls

Season 1: Absolut Drag Ball

As this ball was sponsored by Absolut Vodka, the queens' 3 outfits each had to represent one of four flavors of Absolut Vodka: citron, mandarin, mango, and raspberry. As the winner of the mini-challenge, Nina Flowers got to assign the themes. Bebe Zahara Benet was the winner of this challenge, and Shannel was eliminated. 

Outfit Categories: 

  • Executive Realness 
  • Swimsuit 
  • Evening Grown Extravaganza 
Contestant Placement
Bebe Zahara Benet

WINNER

Nina Flowers

HIGH

Rebecca Glasscock

BOTTOM 2

Shannel

BOTTOM 2
ELIMINATED

Season 2: The Diva Awards

This ball took a different format: Rather than taking place under the context of a single ball, the setting given to the queens was one of an awards show. The girls had to perform an opening number as well as put together outfits for 3 different styles of award ceremonies. As the winner of the mini-challenge, Tyra Sanchez was tasked with choreographing the opening number. Tyra also won this challenge, while Tatianna was eliminated. 

Outfit Categories: 

  • Teen Diva Awards 
  • Diva D.C. Press Awards 
  • Diva Hollywood Extravaganza Awards 
Contestant Placement
Tyra Sanchez

WINNER

Raven

HIGH

Jujubee

BOTTOM 2

Tatianna

BOTTOM 2
ELIMINATED

Season 3: RuPaul's Hair Extravaganza

For the first of Season 3's two balls, the queens had to make three outfits centered around hair. Of these three looks, the last one (Fantasy Hair) had to be made entirely out of wigs. Yara Sofia was declared the winner of this challenge, and Shangela was eliminated.

Outfit Categories:

  • Historical Hair
  • Red Carpet Glamour
  • Fantasy Hair Extravaganza (made out of wigs)
Contestant Placement
Yara Sofia

WINNER

Manila Luzon

HIGH

Raja

HIGH

Alexis Mateo

BOTTOM 2

Shangela

BOTTOM 2
ELIMINATED

Season 3: Make Dat Money Ball!

Season 3's second ball featured money as a central theme. All three categories had to do with money and elegance, and one outfit had to be made entirely out of fake dollars and coins. In addition, the queens had to perform a musical number homaging 42nd Street, involving large coins as a prop. As the winner of the mini-challenge, Yara Sofia received an additional million dollars to work with, but was also tasked with choreographing the performance. Manila Luzon won this challenge, while Yara Sofia was eliminated.

Outfit Categories:

  • Swimsuit Body Beautiful
  • Cocktail Attire After 5
  • Evening Gown Eleganza (made out of fake money)
Contestant Placement
Manila Luzon

WINNER

Raja

HIGH

Alexis Mateo

BOTTOM 2

Yara Sofia

BOTTOM 2
ELIMINATED

Season 4: The Fabulous Bitch Ball

This season's ball took inspiration from dogs. The three looks were themed after dogs, and the third look had to be inspired by a dog assigned to each queen. For this third look the queens would walk the runway with their assigned dog. As the winner of the mini-challenge, Chad Michaels got to assign each queen her dog, but was also tasked with choreographing the opening number. Sharon Needles was the winner of this challenge, while Latrice Royale was eliminated.

Outfit Categories:

  • Daytime Dog Park
  • Pooch in a Purse
  • Canine Couture (inspired by assigned dog)
Contestant Placement
Sharon Needles

WINNER

Phi Phi O'Hara

HIGH

Chad Michaels

BOTTOM 2

Latrice Royale

BOTTOM 2
ELIMINATED

Season 5: Sugar Ball

Season 5's ball was themed after candy, with a candy-centric opening number and candy-themed outfit categories, with a requirement that the third outfit of the ball be made entirely out of candy. As the winner of the mini-challenge, Alaska received additional time selecting her materials from the candy table before the other girls, but was also tasked with choreographing the opening number. Alaska would go on to win this challenge, while Detox was eliminated.

Outfit Categories:

  • Super Duper Sweet 16
  • Sugar Mama Executive Realness
  • Candy Couture (made out of candy)
Contestant Placement
Alaska

WINNER

Roxxxy Andrews

HIGH

Jinkx Monsoon

BOTTOM 2

Detox

BOTTOM 2
ELIMINATED

Season 6: Glitter Ball

This ball was inspired by glitter, jewels, and other precious materials. Each girl was tasked with creating an outfit inspired by a certain gemstone (white diamond, sapphire, ruby, topaz, and pink diamond) assigned to them. As winner of the mini-challenge BenDeLaCreme got to assign each girl's theme, but also had to choreograph the opening number. This challenge was won by Adore Delano, while BenDeLaCreme went on to be eliminated.

Outfit Categories:

  • Banjee Girl Bling
  • CEO Platinum Card Executive Realness
  • Dripping In Jewels Eleganza (inspired by assigned gemstone)
Contestant Placement
Adore Delano

WINNER

Bianca Del Rio

HIGH

Courtney Act

LOW

Darienne Lake

BOTTOM 2

BenDeLaCreme

BOTTOM 2
ELIMINATED

Season 7: Hello, Kitty Girls!

Season 7's ball took a different approach: rather than requiring the queens to make 3 outfits, one from scratch, with an opening number, this ball had no opening number and the queens were only required to produce 2 outfits, with the caveat that both had to be made from scratch. As the week's special guest judge was Hello Kitty, both of the looks were Hello Kitty-inspired: the first was creating a new best friend for Hello Kitty in the style of a Hello Kitty character (with large, cartoonish blocky heads being given to each queen), and the second was a traditional outfit made out of Hello Kitty merchandise. Violet Chachki was the winner of this challenge, while Katya was eliminated.

Outfit Categories:

  • Hello Kitty BFF Realness (done in the style of a Hello Kitty character)
  • Hello Kitty Eleganza (made out of Hello Kitty merchandise)
Contestant Placement
Violet Chachki

WINNER

Pearl

HIGH

Ginger Minj

LOW

Kennedy Davenport

BOTTOM 2

Katya

BOTTOM 2
ELIMINATED

Season 8: RuPaul Book Ball

Season 8 returned to the traditional ball theme, this time inspired by books. As RuPaul's semi-autobiographical novel had recently been released, Ru tasked the girls with telling their life story across three outfits, from being a child to a full-fledged drag queen. The final outfit came with the additional challenge of being made entire out of books. Further the opening number paid tribute to Strangers With Candy by having each queen perform as Jerri Blank. As winner of the mini-challenge, Chi Chi Devayne was tasked with choreographing the opening number. Kim Chi won the challenge, while Derrick Barry was eliminated.

Outfit Categories:

  • Baby Drag Realness
  • That's My Mama Realness
  • Book Couture (made out of books)
Contestant Placement
Kim Chi

WINNER

Chi Chi DeVayne

HIGH

Naomi Smalls

HIGH

Bob the Drag Queen

BOTTOM 2

Derrick Barry

BOTTOM 2
ELIMINATED

Season 9: Gayest Ball Ever

For this season's ball, Ru threw the gayest ball ever. Each of the outfit categories was based around traditionally "gay" symbols, and the opening number involved the "gayest Olympic sport of all:" ribbon twirling. One of the categories was based on the Village People, and for the look each girl had to create an outfit inspired by one of the Village People (construction worker, cowboy, cop, leather biker, and Native American) assigned to them. As winner of the mini-challenge, Sasha Velour got to assign the theme to each queen, and also had to choreograph the opening number. Shea Coulee won this challenge, while Alexis Michelle was eliminated.

Outfit Categories:

  • Rainbow-She-Betta-Do
  • Sexy Unicorn
  • Village People Eleganza Extravaganza (inspired by assigned Village People character)
Contestant Placement
Shea Couleé

WINNER

Sasha Velour

HIGH

Trinity Taylor

LOW

Peppermint

BOTTOM 2

Alexis Michelle

BOTTOM 2
ELIMINATED

All Stars 3: Pop Art Ball

For the top six of the third season of All Stars RuPaul threw the Pop Art Ball, also called the Andy Warhol Ball. In the mini challenge the queens had to get into quick drag and pose for Pop Art Portraits, which Aja won. For the maxi challenge the queens had to design two looks, one on a soup can that showcases their All Star brands with slogans and flavours, and the other a Studio 54 Dance Club inspired look, which was showcased with the queens riding in on a white horse. Trixie Mattel & Bebe Zahara Benet were the top two all stars of the week with Bebe winning the lipsync, while Aja was eliminated.

Outfit Categories

  • Soup Can Realness (Label made to advertise their brand)
  • Studio 54 Disco Eleganza (inspired by 70's disco)
Contestant Placement
Bebe Zahara Benet

WINNER

Trixie Mattel

TOP 2

BenDeLaCreme SAFE
Kennedy Davenport SAFE
Shangela

BOTTOM 2

Aja

BOTTOM 2
ELIMINATED

Season 10: The Last Ball on Earth

This season, Ru surprised the queens by holding a ball early, while there were still 11 queens left in the competition. This ball was inspired by climate change, with the first two looks themed around climate change and the final look themed around leaving Earth. This final look (Martian Eleganza Extravaganza) had to be designed by the queens using intergalactic-themed materials. Due to this ball happening with 11 queens, there was no performance component to it. The winner of this challenge was Aquaria , while Dusty Ray Bottoms was eliminated.

Outfit Categories:

  • Alaskan Winter Realness (actually a swimsuit category)
  • Miami Summer Realness (actually a winter wear category)
  • Martian Eleganza Extravaganza (made out of space-themed materials)
Contestant Placement
Aquaria

WINNER

Kameron Michaels

HIGH

Miz Cracker

HIGH

Blair St. Clair SAFE
Eureka SAFE
Mayhem Miller SAFE
Monique Heart SAFE
The Vixen SAFE
Asia O'Hara

LOW

Monét X Change

BOTTOM 2

Dusty Ray Bottoms

BOTTOM 2
ELIMINATED

Almost Balls

The ball challenge usually has a few main elements: Serving multiple looks, opening with a lipsync performance, having one look be created by the queens, follow a theme, and be called a Ball in name. All the balls follow most of these elements, but there are also a few challenges that could be considered Balls do to also following some of these elements, but not being called a ball.

All Stars 1: Dynamic Drag Duos

The top two All Star Teams, Rujubee and Shad, were tasked with creating a superhero comic book story line. Each Queen had to create a regular costume and a superhero alter ego, with one team member being the hero and the other the villain. After one of the closest challenges in Drag Race Herstory team Shad were declared the winners and team Rujubee had to lipsync against each other for a spot in the top 3. After an emotional lipsync from Raven and Jujubee both were selected to move on to the finale.

Team Member Role Placement
Shad Chad Michaels Hero WINNER
Shannel Villain
Rujubee Jujubee Hero BOTTOM
Raven Villain

Season 7: Born Naked

After the 14 Queens competing on season 7 entered the workroom they were tasked to serve two looks on a fashion show runway, one for spring and one for fall. Following the queens had to create a custom resort tearaway that revealed into a nude illusion. Violet Chachki was the winner of this challenge while Tempest Dujour was eliminated.

Outfit Categories

  • Spring 2015
  • Fall 2015
  • Resort tearaway to Nude Illusion
Contestant Placement
Violet Chachki WINNER
Miss Fame HIGH
Kennedy Davenport HIGH
Ginger Minj SAFE
Jaidynn Diore Fierce SAFE
Katya SAFE
Max SAFE
Mrs. Kasha Davis SAFE
Pearl SAFE
Trixie Mattel SAFE
Jasmine Masters LOW
Sasha Belle LOW
Kandy Ho BOTTOM
Tempest Dujour BOTTOM

ELIMINATED

Trivia

  • This is the longest running challenge in Drag Race herstory, being featured at least once in all regular seasons and in one All Stars Season.
  • Season 3 is the only season to have two balls: the Hair Ball on episode 11 and the Money Ball on episode 13.
  • Yara Sofia has the biggest placement difference between her two balls, winning the Hair Ball but being eliminated in the Money Ball.
  • Bebe Zahara Benet is the only queen to win two Balls, winning Season 1's and All Stars 3 balls.
  • Season 3's, Season 4's, Season 5's, Season 6's, and Season 7's balls were used as inspirations in the design challenge in episode 1 of Season 8.
  • Season 10's ball holds the record for most outfits shown on the mainstage in a single episode, with 33 outfits being worn.