Arts and Culture

Denver Drag Days Makes a Dazzling Debut at Tracks/Exdo

A performer wows the crowd with a Freddie Mercury-inspired performance during the Drag Nation pre-show.
A performer wows the crowd with a Freddie Mercury-inspired performance during the Drag Nation pre-show. Cleo Mirza
Drag Nation, currently the country's longest continuously running drag show, just celebrated its tenth anniversary in a very big way.

Tracks Nightclub/Exdo Events Center partnered with eight other Colorado LGBTQ bars, Denver drag queen Jessica L'Whor and Robin MacKinnon of the drag-king group Mile High Kingdom to present Denver Drag Days, a weekend of drag events honoring the monthly drag showcase.

The festivities began March 29 with a special edition of Drag Nation that included entertainers from around the country, as well as local performers; Mayor Michael Hancock started the show by declaring it "Drag Nation Day."

But this was more than just a daylong event: The weekend celebration was designed to make drag accessible to as many people as possible, with all-ages events for families, workshops for aspiring drag performers, and panels where attendees could ask experienced drag performers about their art form. The March 29 performance was also the first ASL-interpreted Drag Nation show, thanks to two representatives from Rainfrog Interpreting.


click to enlarge Friday's Drag Nation show was the first to feature ASL-interpreters, who were present throughout the whole weekend. - CLEO MIRZA
Friday's Drag Nation show was the first to feature ASL-interpreters, who were present throughout the whole weekend.
Cleo Mirza
Events on March 30 ran from morning long into the night with performances and panels, including "Drag History," where seasoned drag performers recounted their personal experiences with drag and discussed how the art of drag has benefited the queer community. Mile High Kingdom founder Robin MacKinnon, who moderated the Drag History panel, called drag "the healing balm of the LGBTQ community."

Drag queen Shirley Delta Blow offered this: "Drag history is important because it mirrors the history of queer rights. If we remember where we have come from — not just as drag performers, but as queer people — we can have hope for where we're going in the future."

Every performer on the panel highlighted the importance of drag as a safe space for queer people to negotiate gender roles, and as a way to start conversations around political issues affecting the queer community. As  Venus Anne Sexton put it: "We are not doing it to make a coin, we're doing it to make a fucking difference."

click to enlarge "Drag History" panelists Onyx Steele, Venus Anne Sexton, Shirley Delta Blow and Styler Phoenix Dazzle. - CLEO MIRZA
"Drag History" panelists Onyx Steele, Venus Anne Sexton, Shirley Delta Blow and Styler Phoenix Dazzle.
Cleo Mirza
While aspiring drag queens and other curious folks attended hands-on workshops teaching such drag skills as wig styling and comedy, many came just to take in the performances. Groups from Grand Junction, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs all had their own "takeover" shows at Exdo, alongside local drag acts like Weirdo and Koven.


While the official schedule wrapped up at 6 p.m. March 30, participating LGBTQ bars Tracks, Charlie's, Hamburger Mary's, Pride & Swagger, Vybe and X Bar all held their own after-parties late into the night.

click to enlarge Anka Shayne performs at Denver Drag Days' "Fort Collins Takeover" show on Saturday. - CLEO MIRZA
Anka Shayne performs at Denver Drag Days' "Fort Collins Takeover" show on Saturday.
Cleo Mirza
For the grand finale of Denver Drag Days, organizers made an official Guinness World Records attempt at hosting the world's largest drag brunch on March 31. They needed at least 200 people to attend the Exdo event...and a whopping 338 people were present for the official count, shattering the previous record. In addition to brunch fare and mimosas, they were served up a drag show hosted by Jessica L'Whor, Khloe Katz and Kahanna Montrese, with ten drag acts from around the country.

click to enlarge The World's Largest Drag Brunch at Tracks. - CLEO MIRZA
The World's Largest Drag Brunch at Tracks.
Cleo Mirza
The brunch proved the perfect setting for the Tracks team to make an announcement: The club had just been named the LGBTQ Bar of the Year by the National Nightclub Association.

Another announcement: With the success of the initial event under the community's bedazzled belt, plans for the second annual Denver Drag Days are already in the works, scheduled for the last weekend of March 2020.
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Cleo Mirza recently graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in English and anthropology. She enjoys good food, cheap wine and the company of her dog, Rudy.
Contact: Cleo Mirza