Heading to a drag show?
There are a lot of unwritten rules about how the audience is supposed to interact with the performers at a drag show, so being a first time attendee can be intimidating. Luckily for you, we’ve put together a list of some of the most important parts of proper drag etiquette. From tipping your queens to checking out local performers, we’ve got you covered.
Check out your guide to attending a drag show below.
Tip. The. Queens.
It’s customary to tip at a drag show, as the Queens make most of their money through tips. If you find yourself having fun, clapping, or cheering, you should probably cough up a little cash. Whether it’s $5 or $20, a little tip goes a long way, plus you’ll probably get to engage in a quirky interaction with the Drag Queen. There are a few rules to be aware of when tipping, which include, but are not limited to:
- Place the money in your hand and extend your arm toward the Queen. Do not put the cash in your mouth, between your teeth, on your chest, or in the Queen’s clothes unless you are directed to do so by the performer.
- Never step into the performance area in order to tip.
- Don’t clutch your money or make a performer “work for it.” There’s no excuse to make the money difficult to grab from your hand.
Keep your hands to yourself
Drag Queens are people like you, so treat them with the same respect you would want to be treated with. Don’t touch a performer unless you are specifically given permission; just because they take to the stage dressed with padding, doesn’t give anyone the right to invade someone’s personal space.
Cheer, clap, dance, yell “yaaas”
Feel free to get consumed by the show, while maintaining a balance of staying respectful. If a Queen does a trick you enjoy, it’s perfectly acceptable to hoot, holler, cheer, clap, dance, and even let out a quick “yas,” but make sure not to be too obnoxious about it and allow the performers to keep the spotlight.
Check out your local queens
While it’s easy to be familiar with the Queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race, there are tons of local performers that are pushing the limits and exploring new avenues of drag. Over the next few weeks, there are plenty of performances across the city from local artists like Priyanka Love, Tynomi Banks, Ivory Towers, Sapphire Titha Reign, Helena Poison, Devine Darlin, and more!
If you stand in the front row, you will become part of the show
Shy attendees beware: the people closest to the stage frequently become a part of the show. If you aren’t prepared to speak to the host, stay away from the front row, as performers often engage with the people closest to them, whether they ask if it’s they’re first time, dance with them, or read them to filth (which means you’ll be cleverly and ruthlessly insulted by a Queen).
Don’t assume someone’s gender
You should never assume someone’s gender at a drag show, whether it’s a performer or a fellow attendee. Although most Drag Queens are gay men, many Drag Queens are trans women, non-binary, gender queer, cisgender women, and more. All you need to do to be a drag queen is perform a heightened version of femininity, so ensure you’re always being inclusive when prescribing someone’s pronouns.
NEVER step on stage uninvited or walk in front of a performing Queen
Never walk in front of the stage in the middle of a performance, or you will get called out. Also, if you’re looking for the easiest way to get kicked out of a drag show, step on stage uninvited. Fair warning, if you do that, the emcee will definitely rip you to shreds with their insults. Fans should never take to the stage unless a Drag Queen pulls them up for a bit. Although the shows are lighthearted, Drag Queens are performers, and the stage belongs to them.
Drag shows are vibrant, colourful, and full of energy, so be ready to have a little fun. You might be teased, imitated, or pulled on stage, so make sure you’re prepared to leave your ego at the door and have some drag-filled fun!
Lead photo courtesy of Chelsea Brimstin.