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Eat Sleep Drag Repeat: Entering the Age of Aquaria

Unbeknownst to the majority of Bristol students, SWX was blessed with the presence of Aquaria, the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10, on Saturday 26thJanuary. I was fortunate enough to witness her perform the exquisite Age of Aquaria show, and my heart was well and truly snatched. Aquaria was hosted by Eat Sleep Drag Repeat events who showcase drag artists from the hit US reality show in Bristol (Trinity The Tuck is performing in March, get your tickets now!). 

Now, I am ashamed to admit that I was not going to splash out on a £20 ticket, but thanks to a deep love for all things drag and the helpful influence of a few glasses of wine, I bought one the night before. I’m so glad I did! The show was hosted by drag prince Alfie Ordinary, who delighted the audience with a rendition of ‘Money, Success, Fame, Glamour’ to start the night. The support queens included Cara Melle, described as a ‘Sweet, Salty and Sticky American Beauty’, slaying to some Cardi and Queen Bey. Then came Cheddar Gorgeous, an activist queen serving next level drag couture that had to be seen to be believed. She performed a politically-charged rendition of ‘Let’s Stay Together’ by Tina Turner, draped in an EU flag and pleading with a foam cut-out UK… I hope that I am lucky enough to see her headline a show in the future!

Storming the stage in a flower power Avant-garden of an outfit, Aquaria debuted with her song ‘Looks’. She went on to perform a series of songs from her favourite films of 2019 so far, beginning with a dramatic Birdbox-inspired act. It was stunning even though the suspense was interrupted as her smooth blonde wig tried to sabotage her when the blindfold kept slipping down! ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, courtesy of Bohemian Rhapsody came next with a costume change into a slinky off the shoulder sequin number giving serious showgirl vibes. She concluded with my personal favourite performance of the night, ‘Shallows’ from A Star is Born, where she recruited a member of the audience to perform the love song with her. It was somehow simultaneously hilarious and heart-warming. 

The number of outfit changes had to be seen to be believed and her performance remained consistently fierce until the finale. Aquaria concluded with her own song ‘Burn Rubber’, in thigh-high black latex boots and a low-cut shimmering pink blazer. The evening was a magical celebration of the diversity of drag, especially exciting due to the recent announcement that RuPaul’s Drag Race is coming to the UK this year with an eight-part series on BBC Three. Although there is understandable criticism that Drag Race queens are dominating the drag scene, the show has undoubtedly helped transform the popularity of drag in the US as well as the UK. Had Aquaria not been headlining I might not have been exposed to the amazing UK-based artists whose work I will definitely be supporting in the future. Can I get an amen up in here?

Check out this article by Cheddar Gorgeous: https://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2018/apr/30/why-im-organising-a-drag-protest-to-welcome-donald-trump

Laura Cook

Bristol '21

Psychology student at Uni of Bristol
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