Arts Reviews

Aquaria @ Glee Club

Being a massive fan of drag myself – (my friends would admit that I rarely shut up about it) – I was very excited to review RuPaul’s Drag Race’s reigning queen, Aquaria, in her one-woman show at the Notts Glee Club. When the well-awaited night came, I made sure to cover my face in glitter and prepare myself for a good ol’ boogie.

“Not only were we experiencing spectacular music hits, but there were plenty of pop culture references packed in there too”

The venue completely transformed for the drag show – leaving a bar, a stage (with a runway, might I add) and plenty of room for audience members to have a good bop. The night was hosted by wonderful UK-based drag queens, Rujazzle and JC, which treated the crowd to amusing back-and-forths and some legendary performances. All were lip syncs, and the queens’ repertoire covered music such as Dreamgirls’ classic ‘One Night Only’ and a remix of ABBA’s greatest hits (it almost felt like some sort of gay, dragged-up Ocean for a couple of minutes at this point).

Not only were we experiencing spectacular music hits, but there were plenty of pop culture references packed in there too. For those of you unfamiliar with drag performance, often drag queens incorporate lip-synced dialogue within their music tracks. In our case, JC gave us a wonderful rendition of ‘Who’s That Chick’ with remnants of Nikki Grahame’s iconic ‘Who is she?!’ moment from Big Brother back in 2006.

“the queens encouraged the audience to be ‘as gay as possible’”

To break the ice, both hosts asked those who were ‘drag virgins’ in the audience to make themselves known, stating afterwards that they were going to break their ‘drag hymens’. To ease in those audience members new to the drag scene, the queens encouraged the audience to be ‘as gay as possible’, and to offer ‘yaaas’ and ‘slay queen’s where deserved in the show.

Whilst still only warming up the stage for main act Aquaria, we saw confetti, ribbons and death drops within the first few minutes of the show. It was at this point we knew we were in for a treat as the show carried on for 2 ½ hours. (From my experience, you’d normally expect quite a lot less from other drag shows).

“Her charm was immediately apparent through her performances”

Eventually American Drag Star Aquaria made a striking entrance onto the stage with a ‘Hello NottingHAM’, her accent ringing through beautifully. The queen introduced herself to the crowd in a colourful coat bursting with flowers, ready for an outfit reveal in the next number and declaring ‘How’d you like my bush? I trimmed it for you’. Her charm was immediately apparent through her performances, and in numerous audience interactions between songs – something that is always received very well at drag shows.

Aquaria chose to split her one-woman show into 3 categories of the things she appreciated most: fashion, films and music. The queen made references to her time on RuPaul’s Drag Race and continued to demonstrate her talent through her outfit choices for the show. In section 2 of the queen’s set, Aquaria made references to two of her favourite cinematic pieces from 2018: A Star Is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody.

The queen invited a fan onstage to lip-sync a Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga re-enactment of ‘Shallow’, leading me to even well up in places. (Whilst admittedly also being a couple of vodka mixers down). Aquaria then went on to perform a powerful rendition of Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, in dedication to the successful musical biopic released just a few months ago.

Just when we thought the show was getting near to a close, JC and Rujazzle introduced the idea of an audience lip-sync and brought 3 volunteers onto the stage. The audience members were warmly welcomed by the room – some dressed in drag, and some never having lip synced before. The 3 performed a Lady Gaga hit – some of the more confident performers even making full use of the stage’s runway – with each performer receiving huge cheers from the audience.

“This show was packed full of entertainment with something for everybody’s taste”

This show was packed full of entertainment with something for everybody’s taste. At no point were the audience hurrying the host queens off the stage – all 3 drag queens were all received very well and personally, I didn’t want the show to end! Each queen took the time to interact with various audience members and made sure to give every member of the audience a wonderful show.


Emma Nannery

Featured image courtesy of Aquaria via Facebook.

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One Comment
  • Jackie nannery
    4 March 2019 at 17:24
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    A great read, just wish I could have been there to have experience it. Mind you it felt that I was at times Well don Emma

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