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Photograph: Matty Parks

‘I was like a kid in a candy store’: Kitty Scott-Claus on her first night out on Old Compton Street

The ‘Drag Race UK’ star on doing drag ‘on a whim’ in a DIY rhinestone leotard and finding a community in Soho

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson

When I moved to London in 2010, my first gay night out was on Old Compton Street. We went to G-A-Y Bar and drinks were £1.80. I was like a kid in a candy store. It felt like worlds apart from Birmingham.

Once I started doing drag, suddenly I was working around that area. I worked at Freedom Bar, Ku Bar, Phoenix Arts Club – everything led back to Old Compton Street. I got into drag on a whim, for attention and free drinks. Me and my friend did ‘The Promise’ by Girls Aloud and we were bad. We wore black leotards that we’d rhinestoned ourselves, looking really hodgepodge. But with drag it’s the delusion that gets you through. I’m a bit more polished these days.

I have so many memories of that street. I told my friend I was going away for ‘Drag Race’ while walking down it. I’ve been on so many dates there. I’ve been on so many nights out. And the number of times I’ve gone to Balans and had a full english at 4am… If in doubt, Old Compton Street it out. It made me learn that you can be exactly who you want to be and it will be celebrated and loved. You just have to go for it.

Kitty Scott-Claus is performing in ‘Drag Domination’ at The Clapham Grand on Feb 9.

Read more from this series:

Reggie Yates on the area of London that changed his understanding of class

Saxophonist Nubya Garcia on finding a musical community on the South Bank

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