With RuPaul’s Drag Race UK making its recent debut, the culture is in vogue. Here are some unmissable drag shows to recommend to your clients while on holiday.
With their tiaras, tights and tucks, drag queens and drag shows have never been more fashionable.
As TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race continues to influence popular culture, with the UK version airing on our screens for the first time in October last year, LGBT+ lifestyles are being celebrated, and myriad destinations are embracing diversity as a key selling point.
Cyplon Holidays has noted an increase in bookings to LGBT+-friendly destinations such as Israel. “In particular, we have seen an increase in bookings from young adults to Tel Aviv looking to find a sense of belonging. In 2019, this offered us an increase of 18% in Tel Aviv bookings compared with 2018,” says Stephanie Robins, head of national sales for the operator.
Here we round up unmissable drag shows and LGBT+-friendly activities from cities around the world to recommend to clients.
Wow clients by recommending a drag extravaganza at Explosion, considered one of Osaka’s hottest LGBT+ spots.
Held on the first and third Saturday of the month, the Global Kiss event features a night of drag shows and go-go dancing with acts performing in Japanese, Korean and English. Tickets cost between £13 to £18, often including drinks.
“Although modern drag has tended to centre around the LGBTQ+ scene in Tokyo, drag in other cosmopolitan cities like Osaka has grown significantly alongside the popularity of Pride marches and concerted efforts made in recent years to embrace diversity in Japan, particularly in the run-up to Tokyo 2020,” says Matthew Joslin, marketing and communications manager at the Japan National Tourism Organization.
Clients visiting Osaka can also check out Frenz Frenzy, a karaoke bar welcoming members of the LGBT+ community. Admission is free.
BOOK IT: InsideJapan Tours offers a seven-night package for £2,956pp including four nights at the Granvia Osaka and three nights at the Granvia Kyoto. Includes flights via Amsterdam with KLM.
The LGBT+-friendly Chic Cabaret experience at TRS Coral Hotel in Costa Mujeres near Cancun serves up a multi-course dinner alongside a show featuring drag, acrobatics and music from all genres and eras.
Taking place across selected evenings during the week from 7pm, there is also an after-party with DJs until 1am. Clients staying at the hotel pay a reservation fee of about £15pp, but guests from other hotels in Costa Mujeres can also book for about £91pp.
Agents should highlight the USP of the fine-dining experience that can be enjoyed alongside the show, with a new course accompanying each act, says Joanne Peters, the hotel’s senior business development manager.
Peters also advises recommending Cancun’s downtown area and Avenida Tulum as the best places nearby for clients to enjoy LGBT+ nightlife.
BOOK IT: Tui offers a seven-night stay at TRS Coral for two adults on an all-inclusive basis from £1,312pp. Includes a Junior Suite with a balcony, flights from Gatwick and coach transfers. Departs 27 September.
Hip cabaret bar Maggie Choo’s is in the basement of Novotel Bangkok Fenix Silom and hosts the popular Sunday Gay Night with shows by drag diva Pangina Heals along with games, free shots, drink deals and prizes. Entry costs about £8.50.
Clients can also come face-to-face with national drag icons as the venue regularly hosts contestants from TV show Drag Race Thailand. “Bangkok has always been a melting pot of the country’s finest drag performers,” says Chiravadee Khunsub, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in London.
“Clients can now watch favourites from Drag Race Thailand lip-sync as they perform weekly at some of the city’s best clubs such as Maggie Choo’s, The Strange Bar, White Orchid Cruise and DJ Station.”
BOOK IT: Kuoni offers three nights’ B&B at U Sathorn Bangkok in a Superior Room and five nights’ B&B at Paradee in a Garden Villa priced from £1,299pp based on two sharing. Includes Heathrow flights and transfers. Valid for departures in May 2020.
Guinness World Records’ oldest drag queen Darcelle has been running shows for decades in her hometown of Portland, Oregon.
Now aged 89, she performs six times a week from Wednesday to Saturday at Darcelle XV nightclub in the fashionable Pearl District.
The Las Vegas-style cabaret show features glitz, glamour and comedy and starts at 8pm, with tickets priced from £15.
“Portland has a thriving LGBTQ+ community. With annual events such as the Pride Parade – which Darcelle has helmed – Peacock in the Park and the Red Dress Party, the city offers LGBTQ+ themed activities year-round,” says Travel Portland’s Laura Guimond.
In autumn, clients can also visit the Portland Queer Film Festival, an annual showcase of movies from around the world focusing on the LGBT+ community, hosted in the historic Cinema 21 theatre in north-west Portland.
BOOK IT: America As You Like It offers a four-night Portland city break, including flights and accommodation in the Downtown region of the city. Prices start from £625pp based on two sharing.
Drag show Dramatica takes place at the Drama club on Wednesdays every fortnight featuring popular local queens Tomer Versace and Genderika, with free entry for visitors.
“Tel Aviv is internationally known as Pride-friendly and its growing popularity has given rise to impressive drag shows, diverse events and bars that cater for a community that has found a safe refuge there, seldom found in the country’s other regions,” says Cyplon’s Stephanie Robins.
The city also hosts the International Gay Film Festival, which will take place from 4 to 13 June this year. Films such as Carol, The Skin I Live In and Judy starring Renee Zellweger will be screened, with parties, special guests and drag queens also featuring as part of the celebrations.
BOOK IT: A four-night stay at the Dan Tel Aviv on a B&B basis is priced from £1,369pp including flights and private transfers. Departs 1 May.