“We can’t just exist as queer people and not be political,” says Continental Breakfast, a non-binary drag artist and host of tonight’s UBC Drag show.
This sentiment describes the essence of UBC Drag, a biweekly drag show with a rotating cast of hosts and performers. Every other Wednesday, drag lovers descend upon Koerner’s Pub on UBC’s Point Grey campus for a night of campy fun, community connection, and queer consciousness-raising.
The November 16th show filled the pub with an eclectic crowd eager to watch performances from vivacious host Continental Breakfast and drag artists Margaux Rita, Jo Duree, Carrie Oki Doki, Karlie Hart, Blueejoy, Albion Top, and debuting king Noah Bodycares.
Coming to a UBC Drag show, you can expect three acts of diverse and dynamic performances from drag legends and babies alike.
When I say diverse – I mean it. UBC Drag regularly features BIPOC, transgender, and non-binary drag queens, kings, things, and monsters, showcasing the breadth of rich artistry that drag offers. And when I say dynamic – I really mean it. The performers dance up and down the aisles, climb on top of the bar, crawl onto tables and toss props into the crowd.
At $15 a ticket with pay-what-you-can options available, this is some of the best drag you can find in the GVA.
The spaces at the front and back of the room are the primary stage areas, but the venue is smartly set up so every seat offers a front-row experience as the performers weave, dance, and kick their way between tables. In between acts, Koerner’s excellent staff pour craft beers and mix Mai Tais while DJ Riley Cunningham spins crowd-pleasing tracks.
Highlights of the show included a lipsync of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” by Carrie Oki Doki, complete with spinning discs she expertly switched from sticks to gloved fingers. Albion Top, whose performances regularly feature handmade crochet costumes, joyfully performed to a mash-up of “Splish Splash” by Bobby Darin and “Never Get Naked in Your Shower” by Julian Smith. The room filled with the glow of waving phone flashlights during Blueejoy’s emotional rendition of Avril Lavinge’s “When You’re Gone.” Ending their performance of COBRAH’s “BRAND NEW BITCH,” Karlie Hart dropped into the splits on top of one of the tables down the center of the room and the crowd erupted into gay ecstasy.
But beyond the splits, glitter, rainbows, and lashes, UBC Drag emphasizes the political roots of drag as queer resistance and community building. The usual land acknowledgment is strengthened with a focus on Canada’s colonial history. Albion Top waves the non-binary flag during their performance. When asked to say something into the microphone, Carrie Oki Doki announces “trans rights,” prompting a roar of cheers from the audience.
The most striking feeling I had leaving the UBC Drag show was one of hope. I noticed the performer’s friends and families there supporting them, saw the performers supporting each other, and felt queer love filling the room. For one of their numbers, Continental Breakfast pledged to donate all tips to support their friend going through a housing crisis. That number received the most tips all night.
Drag is radically political, but it’s also radically hopeful. It challenges social injustice but persists anyway, offering solutions and inspiring others along the way.
If you love watching Rupaul’s Drag Race and you’re interested in seeing some live performances, make sure to show some love to your local drag talent. UBC Drag offers iconic, memorable, and inspiring shows for both new drag fans and those of us who have our $5 bills ready every weekend.