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A How To Guide: Philly Drag Shows

A How To: Philly Drag Shows

Going to new cities means experiencing new things! Philadelphia in particular has a thriving Gayborhood (yup, that’s the official government name for this area) with tons of great food, drink, and fun. One of the best activities for a night in the Gayborhood is going to a drag show! There are several venues that host different types of drag shows on various nights. Some queens lip sync, some sing live, and some host bingo! There’s a little something for everyone. 

When going to a drag show for the first time, though, make sure to follow a few simple rules to ensure you have the best experience possible!

1 – Come To Have FUN! 

Going to a drag show for the first time can be intimidating. We’ve all seen RuPaul’s Drag Race at least once and it can be a bit daunting. Don’t let that stop you! All of the queens are here to have fun and entertain you! For some of them this is a full-time gig, and for others it’s just something they enjoy doing. The girls are having a good time, and you should too! Drag shows are fun, raucous events!

2 – Respect The Queen’s Space

This is a biggie. There is a defined performance space, and that should be respected. Take a moment to look around and see if you’re in this space. If so, make sure you move! These girls have to have their space to be able to do their show, which is the whole reason everyone’s there. Performing is what these girls do best, so respect them and their area. If you’re in their space, believe me, they will let you know! Which brings us to our next point…

3 – Expect To Get Called Out

If you’re late, in the performance space, or too drunk, the queens are NOT afraid to let you and everyone else know it. Most queens are no holds barred and will call you out on all of your shenanigans, much to the pleasure of everyone else at the show. Don’t worry, though: this is mostly all in good fun! That being said, if you are a hazard to yourself or anyone attending the show, these girls have WAY more pull at their performance spaces than you and will have the bouncers escort you out. 

4 – Don’t Be Afraid To Interact

Most drag acts are interactive. The queens want to have fun with you! If you’re having a good time, then you are way more likely to tip. Sometimes they’ll come up to you directly and maybe pull you up on stage, or they’ll motion for a kiss on the cheek…or what have you.The queens will often come into the audience during their performances, which is quite the rockin’ good time! A general rule of thumb, though, is that unless the queen initiates the interaction, DO NOT touch the queen! This includes all costume pieces, wigs, props, and tips (believe me, this is probably the biggest thing  you need to know when attending a show)! Their outfits are stunning but also very expensive and time intensive. Most of the girls make the majority of their pieces and hold them near and dear to their hearts, so please respect their space and let them give you a great performance! Like they say in the theatre: “If the prop isn’t yours, don’t touch it!” Which, if you think about it, is a good rule to follow in life anyways! So have a great time, just give the performer some space!


A great time to hold out tips is when they come out into the audience– just wait for the girls to take them from you. Nobody likes a rogue hand in their cleavage! Make sure that you have plenty of ones on hand (or fives and tens if you’re looking to have a REALLY good time) so you’re prepared to tip the girls! This is the main way that they make money from their performances, so if you’re having a good time, make sure not to skimp on those tips! There are different ways that queens will collect tips: some girls have a tip bucket or basket that they’ll place on the stage, others will collect tips that are held out during the performance. And still yet others will have so much going on during their performance that you can just throw the money on the stage and they’ll collect it afterwards. If you’re not sure which method is being followed, just watch the people around you, and you’ll catch on quick. Remember: the more you tip, the more fun the performance will be! 


As you can see, drag shows are all about having fun. Now that you know what to do at a Philly drag show, check out some of these great spots in the city to put that knowledge to use!

Tabu – They usually have shows on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but there are all sorts of other shows thrown in throughout the week, so be sure to check their calendar on their website!

Tavern on Camac – Thursday nights is Gaybill with Cleo Phatra upstairs at Tavern on Camac. Cleo sings live and is astounding. There are often guest artists that Cleo invites as well!

Woody’s – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, you can catch Dive Royale at Woody’s! You must have tickets for this one, as dinner or brunch is involved.

Punchline Philly – This is actually a comedy club, but every Saturday, the queens take over for Drag Diva Brunch! Brunch is included, so tickets are required.

Bob & Barbara’s – Every Thursday night, this bar hosts the longest-running drag show in Philly! The venue is more of a dive than the rest of the spots listed and definitely throws a true Philadelphia drag show!

Victoria Freehouse – They have an ever-changing variety of drag shows, so make sure to check their event page on Facebook for the most up-to-date info!

Drag Mafia – While this isn’t a particular location, the Drag Moffia has a show almost daily (sometimes more!) across Philly, so you’re bound to find something that fits your schedule. Just make sure to check their schedule!

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