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Home Away From Home: The Outback Comes to Cincinnati

When you hear the word "immigrant," what picture does your mind conjure up? Whatever that picture is, I bet it's not a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, Australian dancing queen. 

We met Claire Stewart at Lola's Coffee House, in February – pre-COVID-19. Lola's, she would tell us, is her favorite Coffee Place in Cincinnati. She loves Lola's, "because apart from Australian coffee, Lola's has the second-best coffee." Apart from her love of coffee, and her husband and son, her love is the Cincinnati dance group the Red Hot Dancing Queens, which she founded in 2015.

You might have seen the group in parades around Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. It's the most colorful dance group in the region, with people of different body composition, race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and profession. The dancers wear red hot make-up, always accompanied by a vibrant red crown and an individual rainbow outfit. The whole set-up just looks like a bevy of beautiful divas having the time of their lives. Claire Stewart did that. An ordinary immigrant woman, who like the other immigrant women before her, her finding home story includes a whirlwind romance across the oceans that spanned 17 years.

Interview by Clara Matonhodze Strode. Photography by Emily Palm.




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