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Celebrating Drag: Your Ultimate Guide to International Drag Day Across the USA

Travel Tips | Jim Werner | July 7, 2024 | Homepage

International Drag Day Is Coming Up: Get Ready to Slay!

What is International Drag Day?

International Drag Day is celebrated every year on July 16th, and it’s like the ultimate shout-out to Drag artists everywhere. Think of it as a global stage where we honor those fierce queens and kings who bring so much flair to our world.

From lip-sync battles that slay to fashion that’ll leave you gagging, it’s a day to throw love (and dollars bills) at the performers who werk it every day. So, mark your calendar, darlings, and get ready to celebrate the fabulous artistry and hard work of Drag performers around the world!

When did International Drag Day begin?

Started by Adam Stewart back in 2009, International Drag Day is all about giving Drag Artists their time to shine and be celebrated for everything they bring to queer life and culture. Stewart’s vision was simple but powerful — create a day to celebrate the colorful world of Drag.

Exploring Drag: Unleashing Your Inner Fierceness

Initially rooted in theatrical performances, Drag has evolved into a celebration of self-expression and LGBTQ+ pride. It’s not just about the glitz and glamour; it’s about breaking boundaries and challenging societal norms.

History of Drag

Drag’s history traces back through centuries, with notable roots in Western theater and ancient Greek performances. It gained prominence in the 19th century, particularly in vaudeville shows and through figures like William Dorsey Swann, who hosted drag balls in the 1880s. Today, Drag is a vibrant and essential part of LGBTQ+ culture, blending performance art, fashion, and activism.

Dynamic Duo of Drag: Kings and Queens

A Drag queen is an artist who exaggerates feminine characteristics through attire and performance. While traditionally male, Drag queens include diverse gender identities, reflecting the evolving nature of Drag culture. From the iconic RuPaul to local stars lighting up small stages, Drag queens bring life, love, and laughter to countless audiences.

A Drag king is the counterpart to a Drag queen, portraying exaggerated male characteristics through attire and performance. Though less mainstream than Drag queens, Drag kings have gained visibility and popularity in recent years. They are equally fabulous and talented, proving that Drag is for everyone, regardless of gender.

Importance of Supporting Local Drag When You Travel

Supporting local Drag when you travel is crucial for several reasons:

  • Cultural Enrichment: Ever wanted a VIP pass to the LGBTQ+ scene? Experiencing local Drag shows gives you a backstage pass to the culture of the region.
  • Economic Support: Want to be a hero? Supporting local Drag performances helps keep the artists and their stages alive and kicking.
  • Community Building: Looking for your tribe? Dive into local Drag scenes and watch how friendships and solidarity bloom within the LGBTQ+ community worldwide.
  • Artistic Appreciation: Craving some flair? Local Drag artists bring their unique spark and creativity, making the Drag world even more fabulous.

Top 10 Drag Shows Around the Country

Here are some of the top Drag shows you should check out across the United States:

801 Girls Cabaret, Key West, FL

801 Girls Cabaret is an absolute must-do when visiting the country’s Southernmost point. The twice-nightly drag shows end up being different every time the ladies take the stage, so consider hitting it up a few times while you’re in Key West. The energy is electric, and the performances are nothing short of spectacular. It’s a show you won’t want to miss!

Bob & Barbara’s Lounge, Philadelphia, PA

Home of the Citywide Special (a shot of Jim Beam and a frosty PBR for a jaw-dropping $4), Bob & Barbara’s is a true Philly institution. This bigger-on-the-inside bar offers cheap cash-only drinks, free live music and the longest-running drag show in the city. Every Thursday night, the fabulous Miss Lisa Lisa and her rotating crew of queens put on an award-winning show.

Darcelle XV Showplace, Portland, OR

Since 1967, Darcelle XV Showplace has symbolized acceptance and revelry, even predating the transformative Stonewall riots. They still proudly host the longest-running drag show west of the Mississippi! Although owner Walter Cole (Darcelle XV) passed away in March 2023 at age of 92, her spirit lives on. So, come for the infectious energy, dazzling costumes, and the chance to say “Thank You,” because without them we may not have “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Queen at Industry, New York City, NY

Not for the faint of heart or improv newbies, many New York queens rock weekly shows featuring performers from all over the city and beyond. These high-energy extravaganzas are a fabulous mix of stand-up comedy, lip syncing, audience shenanigans, and some fierce kicks and splits. Wander into any of these shows for a rollicking good time. But if you only have time for one, then don’t miss the longest running drag revue Queen at Industry, hosted by the fabulous Holly Dae.

Rain on 4th, Austin, TX

Mess with Texas at one of the hottest queer spots in Austin. Rain serves up a rotating feast of drag fabulousness. Here, you’ll catch the one and only Vylette Ward dazzling in show-stopping performances, wild bingo nights, and spilling some serious Tea on Sunday Funday. Drag kings and queens are just as likely to grace the stage, so keep an eye out for a diverse experience. No matter which night you show up, be prepared for fierce lip-syncs that will blow your mind (and eardrums)!

Colorful drag queens strike a pose outside Palace Bar & Restaurant in South Beach, exuding glamour and confidence against a lively backdrop.

Palace Bar, Miami Beach, FL

Drag Brunch is famously the most important meal of the week. It’s where pancakes and performance collide! So, when you’re in South Beach craving the adult version of breakfast with Mickey and Minnie, head over to Palace Bar. It’s Ocean Drive’s first and only gay restaurant and bar. They offer two bottomless brunch seatings every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (11am and 2pm), plus a single seating on Mondays (12pm). For $55, you get to choose from delicious brunch dishes and enjoy bottomless mimosas on their expansive outdoor patio. While you sip and savor, take in the iconic looks, legendary lip-syncing, and death-defying acrobatics of Palace’s hardworking queens.

Blue Moon, Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh queens are masters at serving up dirty, explosive camp (sticky barroom floors included). If a dive bar vibe is what you’re after, check out Blue Moon in Lawrenceville. It’s consistently rated as one of the top gay bars and has a calendar packed with drag events all week. The shows feel small-town, spontaneous, and intimate, featuring crowd favorites like Cindy Crotchford and Phoenix Fatale.

Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, San Francisco, CA

Tucked away in the midst of Tenderloin like a good drag queens package is Aunt Charlie’s — one of San Francisco’s favorite dive bars. Every weekend, Aunt Charlie’s “Hot Boxxx Girls” put on the neighborhood’s most elaborate drag show, an experience heightened by their cheap drinks and dimly lit atmosphere.

Roscoes, Chicago, IL

Whether you’re kicking off your night or ending it while dancing through summer heat, Roscoe’s is the ultimate spot for unforgettable memories. A staple in Boystown, everyone has a Roscoe’s story. And if you don’t, you will after you visit! This legendary bar has been the go-to place for over 35 years, and let’s be real, no queen’s visit to Chicago is complete without a stop here. On Tuesdays, they host Roscoe’s Drag Race, Chicago’s longest running amateur drag competition. Come watch talented local queens, plus special celebrity guests, like RuPaul’s Drag Race stars, that occasionally stop by.

Akbar, Los Angeles, CA

Akbar is an old-school queer bar in LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood that’s super small and super chill. They have fun bingo nights and even a monthly board game night. Picture this: people bringing their own games, and the bar just buzzing with different groups everywhere. And then there’s Love Connie’s Soundtrack Sunday, the monthly drag and dance extravaganza. Love Connie strutted her way into gay America’s hearts on RuPaul’s Drag Race. She was the surprise coach in the show’s mini-challenge, helping the drag queens perfect their “Galisthenics” workout routines — think Jane Fonda, but with more glitter and sass.

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