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London for drag superfans

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’ contestant Crystal picks some of her favourite ways to get involved with the city’s drag scene

By Things To Do Editors |
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Crystal
Photograph: Leigh Keily/BBC Drag Race Crystal

The UK is the drag hub of the world right now, thanks to a certain BBC3 TV show, but in London, we’ve always had it going on. Nowhere in the world can you see better and more varied queer cabaret, performance and general DIY madness. From drag-owned and operated venues and drag brunches to political protests and festival takeovers – there’s never been a better time to be a drag superfan in London. Take it from an expert (that’s me, Crystal… you’re welcome).

Crystal is a DJ, aerial acrobat and legendary famous person now appearing on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’. You can generally find her somewhere in east London drunkenly demanding more Carly Rae Jepsen. 

RECOMMENDED: What does it take to become a drag king?

Crystal’s guide to drag in London

Do this

Bar Wotever is an incredible weekly showcase of queer drag and cabaret talent. Political, inclusive and extraordinary, it’s a breeding ground of fresh talent and a vital community hub. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Tube: Vauxhall. Tue Oct 29, then weekly. From £4.

Shit Show is anarchic showcase of London’s most exciting queer alternative drag talent. Hosted by professional drag monster Baby Lame (of official ‘Drag Race UK’ podcast fame), and always host to (literal) gag-inducing performers. The Glory. Haggerston Overground. Nov 16. £10. Check The Glory website for additional dates.

Mariah & Friendz: Extra Spooky. London’s notorious club night returns for a special Halloween edition. The best and raunchiest of London’s drag, circus and burlesque scene collide on stage to create on HELL of a party. And for one night only, Mimi’s Dirty Disco Dungeon will be open with go-go ghouls, dirty disco and more pop-up shows. Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Tube: Bethnal Green. Nov 2. £10. 

BoiBox is one of the best drag king shows in town, and have a night at The Glory on the last Thursday of every month. It’s having one of its biggest blow-outs yet this Halloween weekend for Spooktacular with performers Adam All and Apple Derrieres. These dragulas are to die for. The Glory. Haggerston Overground. Thu Oct 31. £10. 

The Glory on Kingsland Road
Al de Perez

Drink here

The Glory is where the best and brightest east London kings and queens take to the stage and sharpen their claws. Something absolutely ridiculous happens here practically every night of the week. 281 Kingsland Rd, E2 8AS. Haggerston Overground. Open daily. 

Imagine a proper working men’s club that’s been taken over by messy, messy drag creatures and you’ve got Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Scene legends and newcomers host the most varied nights you can find in London. 42-44 Pollard Row, E2 6NB. Tube: Bethnal Green. Open daily.

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Eat here

The iconic staple of Kingsland Road, Dalston Superstore hosts drag brunches every Saturday and Sunday. Eggs benedict and hungover drag queens stealing your Bloody Marys. Perfect. 117 Kingsland High St, E8 2PB. Open Sat-Sun. Prices vary. 

Photograph: Elise Rose

Book this

Every Thursday, I’m hosting live screenings of the new episodes of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’. Not that I’m biased, but it’s basically the best night out in London right now. Every Thursday at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. We’ll be screening the grand finale at the Rio Cinema on November 21.  

For a bigger, splashier night out, come see all the queens at ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’ Season 1 tour. You’ll find us at The Troxy in London on November 29. The Troxy. Shadwell Overground. Nov 29. From £38.50. 

‘Burgerz’ by Travis AlabanzaThis show explores how trans bodies survive and how, when they reclaim an act of violence, we can address our own complicity. Carving out a place for themselves as one of the UK’s prominent trans voices, Alabanza presents a performance that is timely, unsettling and powerful. Southbank Centre Purcell Room. Tube: Waterloo. Nov 29-Dec 1. £15. 

 

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Dalston Junction Overground
© Andy Parsons

Buy this

Kingsland Road Shopping Centre is a mecca for drag on a dime – giant jewels and every colour hair extension you can imagine. If you look closely, you can usually spot at least 83 different east London scene queens desperately pulling together a last-minute weekend lewk. Kingsland High St. Dalston Kingsland Overground. Open daily. 

For those super profesh shimmer tights and suck-in fishnets, try Capezio on Endell Street. Good enough for Beyoncé, good enough for a drag queen. 33 Endell St. Tube: Covent Garden. Open daily.  

Anti-Brexit, pro-EU protest in London
Photograph: Koca Vehbi/Shutterstock.com

Get involved

Make like a true drag queen and get involved in protest action. Join Extinction Rebellion! March for a People’s Vote! Nothing is more at the heart of drag than political action and fighting for change. Go be that change, baby. 

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