As fireworks exploded above the Space Needle for the T-Mobile New Year's at the Needle display on Monday morning, 500 drones assembled themselves into formation. 

Like synchronized swimmers, the drones transformed into a swirling countdown clock, Saturn, a UFO, an astronaut, the planet Earth, and, in a hard turn, they formed themselves into a much more down-to-earth shape: a vulva. 

Or at least that’s the claim.

The popular Instagram account, SeattleSubmissions1 (SeattleSubmissions on TikTok and Twitter), reposted a video of the moment in question, which was viewed millions of times. 

The resemblance seemed pretty clear to The Stranger, raising several questions about the show's intent, purpose, and subliminal or overt messaging. However unlikely, we were open to the possibility of tracking down a daring, high-concept drone-show designer and making them our friend. After all, the vulva could represent the audience's collective rebirth from this spectral canal into the new year.

Seattle’s Office of Economic Development, which houses Special Events, told us to write to the Seattle Center. The Seattle Center didn’t respond to our email or to the request forwarded to them from the OED. T-Mobile didn’t respond to our request, either. 

To find our own answers, The Stranger reviewed every smoky, foggy, and low-fidelity video of this year's display we could find, and we made two major discoveries. The first discovery: Fireworks shows are very boring the eighth time around. The second discovery: None of the 2023/24 videos clearly showed a sky vulva. 

We started blaming unfortunate angles, and we entertained the possibility that fog and smoke somehow obscured key visual context in other videos. After all, simple shapes can come dangerously close to resembling genitalia, especially when your audience is enormous and drunk.

The Stranger wrote to the SeattleSubmissions page, but the account did not respond before publication time. 

After so many viewings, however, it became clear to us that the SeattleSubmissions video was not nearly smoky enough. And after reviewing the footage from 2022/23, the first year the city included drones in its display, we came to our final realization: the drone pussy graced the sky last year, not this year. 

The footage at 4:56 in this KING 5 video appears to match the footage captured in the SeattleSubmissions post. In both videos, the fireworks are exploding over the top of the space needle, with smoke somewhat blocking the view. The color of the drones are the same. The sequence appears to be the same. Finally, the original poster’s TikTok showed the video was originally shared on 01/01/23. 

In a direct message, the poster said they hadn’t submitted the video to the Instagram account, and that the account only tagged them after they commented about not being credited.

“As a person who technically has ‘creator status’ it’s lame they took that video without tagging me and got more views for it,” they said. “I’m assuming they make money from views, so yeah it’s lame they can get views and not tag the original content or creator.”

In an email on behalf of Sky Elements, the company responsible for the drones, co-owner and drone pilot Preston Ward called the shape “a 3D rotating abstract formation”—not a vulva—and he argued that off-angle images of the formation don’t show it correctly. 

“So it looks like the poster waited an entire year to try to capitalize on the NYE news cycle,” he added. 

He linked to a full video of the show, but, we gotta say, the whole "3D rotating abstract formation" looks pretty much like a vulva the whole time. 

The shape begins as "2023" spelled out in drones. Then the drones transform into this, which looks pretty yonic to us: 

Sky Elements

Then that shape transforms into this, um, still pretty floral abstraction: 

Sky Elements

Moments later we move into an even more vulva-like shape, which apparently gets the Space Needle pretty excited: 

Sky Elements

Then this. It's giving... birth? 

Sky Elements

Then we get this rotating vulva for like four full seconds...

Sky Elements

...Which eventually morphs into this whale: 

Sky Elements

But perhaps the drussy is in the eye of the beholder? After all, we here at The Stranger do have famously dirty minds. Which reminds us—have you taken our sex survey yet??? If so, then thank you. If not, then do it!