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Drag Etiquette: An overview

Drag shows, while especially popular during pride month, are year-round events for performers to showcase their talents. Between lip-syncing, dancing, comedy and group numbers, drag artists keep the crowd entertained all night long. Depending on the event, one, all or none of these things may occur. Some shows consist of primarily lip syncs, while others can be something else entirely. This variety, and the plethora of talented artists, keeps the community on their toes.

But if you’ve never been to a drag show, sometimes it’s difficult to know what to expect. I’ve compiled a short list of things to do, or not to do, at your first (or hundredth) drag show.

What to Wear

Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of going out (anywhere, really) is dressing up.

Drag shows are a great excuse to dress up and wear that outfit collecting dust at the back of your closet. If the glitz and glamor isn’t your thing, casual attire works too. Wear whatever you feel most comfortable in, and make sure to check the event prior to choosing your outfit - some shows are themed!

Be Respectful

Queer spaces are sacred. Ensure they stay safe through respecting the rest of the audience, as well as the performers.

Keeping things such as consent in mind is very important. Respect people’s boundaries and ask before touching them - performers and audience members alike. And, please, don’t be creepy. If someone says no, back off.

And don’t assume every drag artist you see uses she/her pronouns. Some do, and some don’t. The best way to find out is to ask and listen.

Tip the Performers

At drag shows, it is common for the audience to tip the performers. Meaning, if you like what you see, approach the stage and hand them cash. Don't throw quarters on the stage, instead, run to your ATM before the show and take out some bills.

Some performers accept other tips, like drinks, weed, etc. but be mindful that just because you’re in a bar, it doesn’t mean that everyone drinks. So, cash is the simplest tip, or, if you really want to, ask if you can buy them a drink before doing so.

Drag Does Not Equal Consent

That’s right, say it louder for the people in the back: drag does not equal consent. Don’t touch performers without their consent and be mindful (and respectful!) of everyone’s boundaries.

Clothing is not an invitation to be touched, in any circumstance. Keep in mind that while the performers are there to entertain you, they’re not toys for you to play with.

Engage, But Do Not Overshadow

Drag shows are meant to be fun, this includes dancing, singing and being interactive. But there’s a line between having fun and being disrespectful - find it.

Your space is in the audience unless directed otherwise - do not step on the stage unless told to and do not get in the performers way. Tip the performers if you enjoy the show, but do not hard grip tips to make the performer ‘work’ for it.

Have Fun

At the end of the day, drag shows are supposed to be fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously and enjoy the show!

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