It’s scientifically proven that your Pride experience cannot be complete without a drag show. Here’s how to not get werked up, by follow these specific drag show etiquette rules.
With a number of Emmy awards and spots in primetime television all over the world, drag has now reached mainstream status. This is a great time for drag artists everywhere, as people are more likely to visit queer spaces, be more inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community and the display of their identity, and, of course, tip the dolls that come to perform.
If you’re heading to a drag show for the first time, it can feel a bit intimidating. It’s not like a concert where you’ll be watching for afar — rather, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with the queens. Plus, each space has their own unsaid set of rules. How do you enjoy yourself while still remaining respectful? We’re here to help.
[Hero and featured image credit: Brian Kyed/Unsplash]
A beginner’s guide to drag show etiquette
1. Performance Space
Acknowledge the space—the runways, the stage, and floor. It’s usually well-defined, and if you’re standing in the way, someone will let you know. Sometimes, when drag shows take place at a private event or at a restaurant, the performance space can take up the whole floor, so be wary.
The most important thing is to not intrude on the space at all costs. Unless they specifically invite you onstage for the act, do not get onto the stage, or, God forbid, walk in front of anyone while they’re performing. It’s the easiest way to get kicked out of a show.
2. Expect to be included
If you’re shy, you may want to steer clear of the front row. Some hosts do like to engage with the audience, and they most likely would pick the ones closest to them. They would ask you questions, read you down, or let you participate in their act. It’s not guaranteed that this scenario would happen, but if it does, be prepared and stay cool.
3. Remember that it’s not about you
No shade intended at all, but the audience is there to watch the dolls displayed on the infographic. You might go to a show for your birthday, bachelorette party, divorce party, will-reading-as-the-young-wife-after-rich-husband-dies party, but don’t forget the venue is booked for the artists.
Do not interrupt the performance, don’t heckle the host, and don’t make a spectacle of yourself. Sometimes the performer might even sing you a ‘Happy Birthday,’ but after you bask in the moment, sit down and enjoy the show with respect, together with the other members of the audience.
4. Be an active audience member
If the queens feel the positivity in the room, the performance is enhanced. It’s just science. When the performer steps onto the stage, cheer. If you love their costume, holler. If they’re serving you camp, laugh like your ex just got fired from their new job.
Every artist has spent hours rehearsing the performance, so be enthusiastic and show your appreciation for the art form.
5. Be respectful
Drag shows are queer spaces, period. Even if the venue is not inherently a queer space, drag shows queer-ify any place they are performed in. It has turned into a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community. As such, it is very important to respect the diversity and identity of both performers and members of the audience.
You will be encountering different people with different definitions of gender and sexuality. Drag, in essence, plays with the concept of gender and tears the usual concept of labels to shreds. Don’t assume anything, be inclusive, and ask for their pronouns—in fact, many are comfortable with answering anything as long as it comes from a respectful place. Leave the judgment at the door, and engage others with love and compassion.
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