Following on that weekend in London, on Saturday we celebrated hubby’s pre-birthday at Halfway to Heaven by taking two friends to see Rose Garden, a drag performer who has a special place in our hearts from the time we lived in London. I have written about Rose before but what made this show special was that our friend Cass, was a drag virgin and Rose did not disappoint in making her feel part of the show. The thing about drag is not only do the performers need to have a thick skin but so does the audience. If you haven’t seen Rose and are of a delicate demeanour, you’d probably walk out in disgust. Having grown up in Belfast during the 70’s, her jokes can take aim at everything from “The Troubles” to the current state of identification and classification within the LGBTQ community. She did both that Saturday. Rose and I disagreed on the term queer which I prefer but she does not: still after calling me out on it, we all agreed she was a BITCH and it was cemented in unison J. If you head down to her show, you’ll get that joke.
Splicing her own unique brand of jokes with old musical and tv classics from the theme to Laverne and Shirley to Cabaret and Rocky Horror, there is a comfort in knowing that there are performers who are still carrying the tradition of drag as I first encountered it over 25 years ago. Performers, who have paid their dues and have weathered the changing tides of the scene. It is too easy now for many to think that drag is all Drag Race instant celebrity when truth is for a long time, it existed behind blacked out windows where for a few hours you could forget the realities of life out there and laugh, drink and smile in a safe space. Where the success of the show depended on the connection with the audience. Rose keeps that magic alive.
To introduce friends to that experience on a Saturday at Halfway was extra special on a weekend celebrating hubby’s birthday. It was also our first experience seeing Morag McDuff who did manage to get our friend Cass on the stage. She did have the drag baptismal of fire that day. Here is another reason to head down to Halfway on a Saturday in case you aren’t convinced yet. Each time we have ventured down on a Saturday, we are introduced to new acts and this is how fan bases are traditionally created, at a grassroots level.
John Lugo-Trebble considers this more of a space to engage personal reflections and memories with connections to music and film.