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Photograph: Lia Clay

Bushwig Drag Festival is hosting a giant bike party on Friday to aid Black Lives Matter

Their queer global gathering online, Planet Bushwig, is also set for this weekend.
Written by
Collier Sutter

Bushwig, one of Brooklyn's biggest drag events, won't let the pandemic spoil its annual celebrations.

This year, the street will be the stage. 

The Pride weekend extravaganza is taking off on two wheels with a mass bike ride through Brooklyn, starting at Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick on Friday, June 26. Queer folx, queens, kings and everyone in between can head to the Bushwick-based park at 5:30pm to bike in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Queen Merrie Cherry leads the pack in a rainbow-painted convertible with speakers blaring tunes out the back. Attendees are encouraged to wear wigs. 

The party doesn’t stop there, either. Bushwig organizers have also teamed up with Merrie Cherry and a local Black Lives Matter group to host a festive dance party in Greenpoint’s McCarren Park at the end of the bike ride. Since George Floyd's brutal death at the hands of police, Merrie Cherry has helped orchestrate and lead hundreds of New Yorkers in nightly Black Lives Matter vigils at the park, protesting against racial inequality and police brutality. 

The dance party will raise money for Gays & Lesbians Living In A Transgender Society (G.L.I.T.S), a grassroots organization that focuses on providing housing to black trans women right here in New York City and internationally.

"We thought it would be a perfect fit!" says Simone, who is one of the Queens organizing Bushwig. 

The time-honored gathering, which is expected to have some impressive lewks, feeds a sense of community each year. And right now, people need to unify and fucking dance, Simone says. 

"They shut down Pride, you know?" explains Simone. "We thought this was the perfect intersection. We all need to celebrate Pride in a real way and we want to support Black Lives Matter. I think it's important mental health-wise for us all to come together and fucking party and dance. Drag, music, love and unity all happen for us through dance."

Bushwig—once an intimate day party in New York that Horrorchata and Babes Trust co-founded in 2012—has reshaped the landscape of queer Brooklyn nightlife. Beyond that, it's become a globally-beloved fest. 

For this Bushwig, the pandemic has kept organizers from throwing a massive festival at a large New York venue. But because of that, they’ve announced their first-ever virtual festival, "Planet Bushwig," and its a Bushwig bigger than ever before, they shared. 

Supported by Ketel One Vodka, they'll be able to celebrate Pride with thousands of drag fans outside of New York through the digital ether. The free gathering for queer folx and queens from all over the planet, is stacked with events like non-stop drag shows and donations raised will be sent to G.L.I.T.S. The party premiers Saturday June 27 at 6pm through Sunday June 28.

Before Planet Bushwig, Neon Calypso and surprise guests will also be doing a pre-show on Time Out New York’s Instagram live, Saturday at 5pm.

She'll talk about what it's like to do drag during this time, any new trends developing in the art form in a world of social distancing, and how people can still support drag queens and artists with nightlife still shuttered.

As nightlife falls in the last phase of New York’s reopening and drag performers rely on nightlife to make their ends meet, the Bushwig family is getting creative in how it can still do drag and aid its community. 

"A lot of the queens are out of money," Simone says. "We work in nightlife, so we thought, how are we going to make money right now? Then we had the idea, we should do street shows."

This summer after Pride, they’re planning to do pop-up shows across Brooklyn. "They’ll be like these little moments on the street corner," she adds. "Everyone will be told to show up at a certain time. It’s going to be cute."

Stay tuned for more updates on their stylish plans for drag-filled New York summer. 


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