For those of you very much up on LGBT+ culture, I am sure you are able to recognise the famous Todrick Hall song title in my heading – but this is one DragCon where Todrick was not present – however, everything in his song (and more) were available at this years 2023 DragCon at the Excel in London between January 6th-January 10th.
The opportunity for Geektown to attend the event is an exciting one, the development of Drag culture on our screens has been proliferating at an incredible rate, and in 2022 RuPaul had a franchise of his series running across every single week of the year. As a self-confessed DragRace fan I was fully up to speed on the US, UK, Canadian and Down Under versions so was fully prepared for what I was about to experience. I realise however my lack of appreciation of some of the European and East-Asian franchises (Italy, France, Spain, Thailand) really came when I was unaware of some of the names and booths filling the room. I am looking to bring more LGBTQ+ content to Geektown this year and this is where I start with my review of DragCon 2023.
Spread across 3 days, DragCon 2023 launched at London’s Excel Centre on 6th January, with RuPaul himself cutting the ribbon and kicking off the legendary pink carpet runway to welcome the plethora of Drag Queens that have graced our screens across much of 2022. There was a fantastic turnout of current global winners and British icons including Jinkx Monsoon, who attended (minus her suitcases) for the Friday, but rushed off for Broadway rehearsals on the Saturday, Trinity the Tuck, Baga Chipz, Silky Nutmeg Ganache, Jimbo, Blu Hydrangea and Jaida Essence Hall. Some notable absences included Season 14 winner Willow Pill, Fan favourite Divina de Campo and the iconic Shea Coulee who all have many UK followers and fans. Michelle Visage spearheaded the meet and greet booths as you entered the event and was flanked by the US queens from AllStars Season 7 on one side and the British winners on the other! World of Wonder sponsored the event as they on the very same weekend launched the premiere episodes of Season 15!
Fans and Drag artistes new to the art form, as well as experienced performers, all have a space at DragCon and it can fulfil many of your needs. Alongside the meet and greet booths there were vendors offering makeup, shoes, jewellery, wigs, padding, dress and multiple charity and support organisations promoting the great things they are doing within the drag community. The pink carpet ended in the magnificent main stage where performances from the queens took place throughout the weekend, including two DJ sets from RuPaul himself.
The fantastically named streets where you could pick up a badge, bargain or artwork including Sickening Street, Henny Lane and Deathdrop Alley hosted some iconic stalls and I was overwhelmed when I discovered some of the cast of the UK ‘Traitors‘ were making an appearance. In between sporting some fantastic 6 inch heels, trying a clip-on earring or two I was fortunate enough to meet Amanda, Kieran and Maddy from the UK Traitors cast who really had identified their fanbase quite quickly since the broadcast of their show!
There is no doubt DragCon is an iconic event, with plenty of opportunities to build your artform or collection of memorabilia, but for the hardcore super-fan, it is important to have deep pockets for those merch purchases, with meet-and-greet costs running from £0- £40 per person. Do not be scared by these prices, the time you get with the queen(s) is genuinely very valuable and everyone that I met over the weekend were just delightful, funny and really caring about each and every person they met!
Would Geektown recommend it in 2024? Absolutely! I’m saving now and I cannot wait to see Drag in action as we head into 2023 with even more episodes of the franchise airing.
You can grab a subscription to wowpresentsplus for £3.99 per month (for the first three months) and with the ever-increasing content from the USA dropping there weekly you could immerse yourself in Drag culture from around the world. DragRace Canada, DownUnder and UK will continue to be available on BBC iPlayer. Look out for the release of information for DragCon 2024 in the summer and Geektown’s very own Drag aficionado will be on hand to guide you with all the best tips! (@graythegeek on Twitter.)
Thank you to Premier for facilitating the weekend for Geektown!