Drag Walk: fourth time’s a charm

George Wilder reviews DRAG Walk 2017.

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Photo: Sammi Ciardi

From the haughty exploits of Take Me Out to the impressive skills displayed during St Andrews Got Talent, RAG week had given the Union stage quite a run. However, determined not to take the foot off the pedal, the committee had kept its crown jewel till last: Drag Walk. Here, students from across St Andrews gathered to see who would become Fife’s next drag superstar, attired with feather, leather and, of course, one or two trademark Canada Goose jackets.

I, like many of the first years who had decided attend, was a total Drag virgin. I needn’t have worried –

I have to start by saying that the LGBT+ community in St Andrews is by far and away one of the nicest groups of people I have ever encountered.

Within minutes I found a Red Stripe had been forced into my hand, and a smile brought to my face by the energy that surged through the room as the show began.

Photo: Sammi Ciardi

In almost any other kind of show, what followed may have seemed generic: we were treated to a short speech, first by our presenter, then by the judges as they were introduced, and lastly, we were shown who would be competing. Drag Walk, however, had other ideas. From the start, those presenting and judging showed the confidence of a Wall Street rogue trader as they routinely blossomed with compliments and cut with insults. For a while, in fact, it seemed that the slightly meeker contestants might lose themselves in the huge characters that commanded the stage early on.

One could see the true brilliance of the show, since as the show went on, the focus shifted towards the contestants themselves. Particularly helpful for this was the insults round, where each contestant would spend a couple of minutes ripping into their competition. One particular favourite of mine came in the form of, “You always say you’re worried about getting old so you don’t lose your looks. If that’s true you should have been stillborn.” This sent sharp intakes of breath and rapturous laughter into every corner of the room.

Photo: Sammi Ciardi

In a show that had already provided variety in abundance, it was a shock to realise that there was still even more to be offered. Audience participation and a show from the professionals added even more value to the night, while also informing on the depth of Drag culturally.

The amount of work that had been put into outfits, voiceovers, and the performances themselves reflected how the people we were watching weren’t simply changing clothes, but channeling another personality.

The following final round required the remaining contestants to make their own costumes based on a dead celebrity, adding a contemporary element that would make this year unique in its own right.

Minutes later, the crowd roared its approval as Fife’s Next Drag Superstar (Saliva Plath) was announced, an energy that had been skillfully cultivated by the show throughout the entire night. What followed was an after-party like no other, with all the originality of the show let loose on veterans and new blood alike as new arrivals and a glamorous playlist sealed what had been a fantastic night for all. In a bubble where events are so often defined by exclusivity and cliques I found DRAG Walk 2017 to be a breath of fresh air. 

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