How Dublin Drag queens have adapted during Covid-19

The Dublin nightlife is one that is, usually, constantly thriving throughout the week. The streets are alive with many bars and clubs. However, due to the pandemic, the gay scene in Ireland has been struggling. Most of the bars, clubs and pubs have been closed since March. Now with new restrictions for Dublin and wet bars, it doesn’t look like gay bars and clubs will be opening any time soon. 

The closure of these clubs have been a massive inconvenience for drag queens who make an income from doing drag shows and hosting events. This, however, has not stopped them from thinking of witty and fun new ways of bringing drag shows and great entertainment to a variety of people. For those who normally venture in to see drag performances, be it in the famous city club The George or bingo in Café Bar Swords, you can now have the pleasure of being able to access these events through multiple digital platforms. 

How the restrictions have affected the drag performing scene

The Covid-19 restrictions has not just closed down safe and fun places for many of the LGBTQ+ community such as gay bars and clubs. It has also affected the many people who are employed with these clubs and bars. They are currently out of their usual income and have been put in a position to try and find new and interesting ways to adapt. This includes drag queens, who usually attract huge crowds and create an accepting and vibrant atmosphere for everyone who watches their shows. Drag art has suffered majorly due to lockdowns and restrictions. 

Drag queen resilience 

In an email exchange I had with drag performer Victoria Secret, also known as Philip Keogh, they expressed that it’s been rough on drag queens to lose their performance space. “We normally feed off an audience’s energy and everyone has truly missed this during Covid-19”.  As with a lot of artists, the pandemic has been a serious blow. One major way the drag community has reinvented themselves is through bringing their audiences digital shows. Victoria Secret further stated, it really reminded me how resilient drag queens are as artists’. 

The drag artist also reminded me how so often, artists in other art forms get support to help create their work, while drag queens often have to be their own marketing person, costume maker, make-up artist, tech person, joke writer, the emcee, the performer, the showrunner and more, to create and put on a successful show. The performer explained how it’s been fascinating to watch the creativity that has come out of the pandemic from drag queens.

Check out Victoria Secrets Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/victoriasecretIE/

Innovating ideas

Drag performers across Dublin and Ireland have used their creativity to host virtual drag shows,   bingo’s, and other live events through many social media platforms. Drag performers have brought a digital stage to their audience. Be it through podcasts, pageants or a variety of fun shows. According to www.extra.ie , Keogh aka Victoria Secret and their good friend, Dublin drag superstar Davina Devine, decided to co-host a podcast together called Petty Little Things.

Victoria Secret has been hosting and creating an abundance of  online events, such as  blind dates and lip-sync battles. Many drag artists have also been hosting in-person drag brunches and dinner events in Dublin city. However, this has been halted due to new restrictions that have been set for Dublin for the following weeks. 

Listen to Petty Little Things on Spotify here: http://Petty Little Things | Podcast  

https://www.instagram.com/p/CFhMBL1HSgD/

Drag drive in’s

In Canada drag performers have been doing drive in drag shows and tours across the country. If you have heard of drive in movies it is essentially the same principle. The show is brought to you in the comfort of your own car whilst maintaining social distancing guidelines to protect against the spread of Covid-19. This, perhaps, could be a way forward for Dublin drag performers over the coming weeks.  

Looking forward

For many of the entertainment industries, the virus has not made it easy. However, the sheer creativity and perseverance of drag performers has allowed fans to continue to support and enjoy their entertainment. Entertainment is something that is enjoyable and fun. It is an uplifting experience, something that is needed now more than ever. 

According to Victoria Secret in our email exchange, “drag performers are still longing for the stages they once regarded as home”, but until they can get back on them, they carry on as best as they can and continue to connect with supporters through social media. The performer stated the “support from drag fans has been stellar” throughout.  The dedication to innovating ideas is a testament to how Dublin drag queens have adapted during Covid-19.

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Cliona Perrick

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