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Nottingham Drag Festival: Nottingham Experienced

Jo Ralphs, Impact Feature's brand new Nottingham Experienced Columnist talks about her time at the Nottingham Drag Festival: with talks of queens and glitter that would make anyone jealous they didn't go themselves!

Crowded on the narrow patio of Rescue Rooms was one of the most colourful, glittery and fabulous groups of people I think I’ve ever seen. There were queens towering over everyone in 10-inch platforms, all white outfits, excited 20-somethings with glitter beards and lashes for days – even me, in the most sparkly dress I could find. The atmosphere was phenomenal, and the doors were yet to even open.

Once we actually got inside Nottingham Drag Festival, everything was amplified – there were more queens, more glitter beards and now there was booze! We even caught a glimpse of the performers on the bill; Derrick Barry, Nebraska Thunderfuck, Jade Jolie, Tempest DuJour, Aggy Dune, Darienne Lake, Kasha Davies, Cynthia Lee Fontain, and of course, Adore Delano. If you’re a fan of the show Ru Paul’s Drag Race, you probably recognise a few of those names – if not, trust me, these are some of the most beautiful women in the world.

“I can say with confidence that every single performer in the line-up had me screaming ‘Yaas Qween'”

Also, if you’re a fan of the show, you’re probably thinking that line-up only has one or two good acts – but how wrong you would be. I can say with confidence that every single performer in the line-up had me screaming “Yaas Qween!”. And no, tragically, I wasn’t drunk – I’d forgotten my ID (rookie error) and Rescue Rooms doesn’t accept Moodle logins as confirmation of age (I really tried, and yes it was embarrassing).

The show started with an introduction and a number by Nottingham’s own Kitty Tray, the host of the event and a local treasure. Kitty is everything you expect from a drag queen – funny, classy, flirty, and with a voice perfectly matched to Pete Burns in her rendition of You Spin Me Round. The night got off to a cracking start.

“For £30 it’s a little heart breaking they didn’t provide emergency seats for disabled people”

Next up was Derrick Barry, the Vegas Britney impersonator who literally gave me life, and then basically took it away again, when she costume-revealed a nude crystal body suit – think Toxic music video. Other stand out acts included Jade Jolie, who does an eerily accurate T Swift impression, Darienne Lake performing as Ursula from the Little Mermaid, and Nebraska and Derrick’s double act in the second half of the show. The venue was a little disappointing – as it’s a small gig space there are, understandably, no seats. For me this meant having to take a break to sit down outside, meaning I missed a few minutes of performing. For £30 it’s a little heart breaking they didn’t provide emergency seats for disabled people (or people whose bodies can’t handle the combination of spanx and cheap shoes).

Despite the back, foot and neck pain, I was in for the surprise of my life in the second round of performances. I had been least excited for the queens who had been booted off the show in early rounds – but after an amazing performance of When You’re Good to Mama, I was excited to see more of Tempest DuJour.

“I had no ID and was no longer able to stand unassisted”

I wasn’t however at all prepared for her performance. She emerged from behind the smoke machine like a giant angel-alien hybrid, dressed as, you guessed it, Lady Gaga. There was a blonde wig, white boots, white cape, white body suit and to top it all off, a spiky crystal crown which looked as dangerous as it was shiny.

At the end of the night I wasn’t able to attend the after party – I had no ID and was no longer able to stand unassisted – so I went home. But I went home satisfied – Nottingham’s first Drag Festival was one of the best nights out I’d ever had.

Jo Ralphs

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Featured Image courtesy of ‘Alex Liivet’ via Flickr. Image licence found here.

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