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Drag 101: Etiquette and FAQ for Newbies

Photos by Creative Collective

So you’ve never been to a Drag Show, and frankly, the thought slightly fills you with trepidation. What if they single you out and dance in your general proximity? What if you don’t like it? What if you do? And what’s up with this whole tipping thing? 

First off, Drag Shows can be a lot of fun, and if you go with an open mind and a wallet full of dollar bills, you’re bound to have even more fun. There are some rules you need to follow, and some things to keep in consideration, but for the most part, if you’ve got tickets for a Drag show you’re in for a treat.  

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Drag Events that may shine some light on how to prepare, what to do, and what to expect at your first Drag Event. 

If you have a question that isn’t listed here, feel free to send a message to our editor at joeyphoenix@creativecollectivema.com 

Drag Queen Creative North Shore

What is Drag? 

Drag is an artistic expression where a person shows off different gendered sides of their personality. Frequently referred to as Queens and Kings (or princesses and princes), Drag Royalty march in parades, read books for kids at libraries, volunteer in their communities, and dance like fiends on stages and dance floors. Not all Drag Royalty are performers, but many are, and they have style. Drag royalty is diverse, and one of the best parts of seeing a Drag performance is the bit where you don’t quite know what to expect. 

Are Drag Queens and Kings Transgender? Which pronouns should I use? 

Modern-day Drag Queens are people of all genders who dress up and perform in highly stylized, exaggeratedly feminine ways. Drag Kings are people of all genders who dress up and perform in highly stylized, exaggeratedly masculine ways. Although Drag is an artistic expression of identity, it is often performative, and the people who dress in Drag often lead lives very separate from these performative personas. 

Drag King Creative North Shore

So while some Drag Royalty may be transgender incidentally, it would be unwise to assume that any king or queen is transgender. Being respectful of someone’s gender is important whether or not they are dressed in Drag, so if you’re unsure of someone’s pronouns, ask! And that includes Drag Kings and Queens too. 

Tipping?

At many Drag-themed events, it is customary to bring small bills with which to tip the talent. Wave a dollar bill in the air and they’ll come to you during their performance and give you special attention. However, not all Drag shows welcome tipping as part of the performance. For example, The Island of Misfit Queers at the Cabot is not a tipping event. 

Touching? 

It should be common knowledge that you should never touch anyone without their consent and that no one should ever touch you without your consent. In Drag Shows, it may seem that these lines can be blurred when a King or Queen is strutting their stuff past you during their performance. It may seem like they are inviting you to reach out and cop a feel. But unless they verbally say that it’s ok, keep your hands to yourself. 

Often, when Royalty is working the floor and people are proffering tips to them, the Royalty will give a patron some special attention. In this instance, there is an unwritten rule that if you offer up a tip, you will most likely be touched by Royalty, which is a mighty good thing. But, if that makes you uncomfy, offer the dollar to your friend to tip the King or Queen with and let them have all the special attention. Royalty will respect your boundaries if you respect theirs.  

Miz Diamond Wigfall Creative North Shore

What Should I Wear? 

Drag Shows are fun opportunities to play around with clothing and costuming. Although you’re welcome to wear your standard clothes and be comfortable during the performance, you could also see this as an opportunity to be a little daring. Haven’t worn heels in a while (or ever) put them on! Have some glitter? Sprinkle it about. Want to bring out your grandmother’s feather boa that she wore during her stint in Hollywood in the 40s? Do it. Let your inner diva shine. You deserve it. 

Can I Make Noise? 

Drag Royalty loves being cheered for, so if they do something that excites or amazes you, let them know with whistles and applause! They’ll love it. However, don’t be disruptive. Heckling is straight up rude and takes away from the rest of the audience’s experience. So when it comes to making noise, cheering and appreciation is welcome, whereas being rude is so passé. 

Are Kids Welcome? 

Drag Shows that happen at night are (usually) 21+ and feature a lot of adult humor that wouldn’t be appropriate for most kids. So if a ticketed event says no kids allowed, obviously don’t bring in your toddler. Now, on the other hand, most daytime Drag events, especially Drag storytelling at libraries, is very kid friendly. A lot of Drag Royalty love hanging out with kids, and kids are often bedazzled by the bright costuming, makeup, and style of the royalty too. 

Drag Queen Creative North Shore

Drag Shows are meant to be fun and wildly entertaining, so don’t be shy, buy yourself a ticket to the Island of the Misfit Queers or check out one of the area’s Drag Brunches, and see what all the fuss is for yourself. It’s bound to be unlike you’ve ever seen before. 



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