Drag shows and drag performers have gained in popularity in the past decade, and this is thanks to Rupaul’s Drag Race which catapulted drag into the mainstream, and this is how some of us became familiar with the world of drag. However, drag race is not the end all be all when it comes to drag and when it comes to local drag shows, they are nothing like drag race.
So, expect the unexpected, especially if you are going to attend a local drag show. But with like any kind of shows, they are certain rules you need to follow, especially if you are a cis straight person attending a drag show in a queer space. So without further ado, let’s learn more drag and tips you ought to know before attending a drag race show.
What is a drag show?
It is a form of entertainment that drag artists put on, be it drag kings or queens, and are usually people who put on clothes and makeup to amplify the appearance of gender. For me, drag is inherently political because it is a way to disrupt heteronormative codes and discourses. Historically, drag queens have been gay men dressing up as female impersonators or even trans women dressing up in female garments to accentuate their appearances.
Nowadays, gender identity is now less important to do drag; anyone can do drag irrespective of their gender identity or sexuality. The drag community welcomes everyone, no matter if you are gay, straight, cisgender, non-binary, or even trans. It is a form of gender expression which allows you to express yourself.
What can I expect at a drag show, and where do they take place?
Drag is an art form and typically consists of lip-syncs, live cabarets, live singing, comedy acts, standup, group numbers, or even dance routines, and some acts may even be a combination of all these. Most drag shows typically have an MC or Master of Ceremonies, which will typically be the main attraction and will be the one who will introduce most of the performers.
Drag shows are typically held and hosted in queer spaces like gay bars and clubs, but with the rise of the popularity of drag shows, now they also take place in large arenas and theaters. You can typically expect to see drag shows in large cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or even Chicago and Atlanta. Look at your local queer bars and see if they are hosting any future drag shows.
Tips on what to do:
1. Be supportive
Remember, a local drag show isn’t like an episode of drag race; they most likely don’t have the same budget and don’t expect to see the same kind of clothes but expect the same kind of energy because a drag queen will perform the house down boots if it is the last thing they do.
So, even if you aren’t a fan of a particular number, don’t boo them; it is not nice for either of you. They’ve most likely than not worked meticulously to prepare their look and routine, so be supportive, that free and is something that anyone can do.
2. Consent is key
No matter how fabulous they may seem, you should also be cogniscient that drag performers are people at the end of the day. Remember, consent is sexy, and never behave in any way that would leave the performers uncomfortable and safe. Treat them with respect and how you would want to be treated, ask for consent if you want to touch and hug them for a photo. Remember, never touch a drag queen’s hair because it’s a wig and isn’t meant to be played with.
3. Have fun
Drag isn’t meant to be taken seriously, and the best thing you can do at a drag show is to have fun. Drag queens are like comedians, and they feed on your enjoyment, and the more you enjoy the show, the better they will act and perform.
4. Support your local drag scene
As we’ve said earlier, drag is for everybody, and before any of your favorite Ru girls were on TV, they were part of the local drag queens too. I remember the days when I would see Bianca Del Rio, Miz Cracker, Bob the Drag Queen, or even Monet X Change in my local New York bar, so who knows, the next big queen can come from your locality. Attend local drag shows to support your fellow local queens.
Most drag performs to make a living because of tips; they are also freelance artists who depend on said tips to get by financially. Be sure to arrive at the show with dollar bills in hand, and don’t just get single; get 20s too to tip your favorite queens
Sound off in the comments section below and tell us who your favorite queen is. My personal favs are Lady Bunny, Miss Coco Peru, and any New York queen. New York is my home, and I go to drag bars whenever I can, and during the pandemic, I even attended virtual drag shows, which was how most queens made a living.