My night at Crews & Tangos

An empty streetcar and a cold December night, nothing out of the ordinary except tonight, I was on my way to a drag show to experience a new world.

According to a study by Michael Moncrieff, professor at Geneva University drag queens differ from transsexual persons in that they are gay individuals wearing feminine clothing with the explicit goal of performing in front of audiences. 

My first memory of a drag queen was in childhood, I must have been six years old. I was on a go-train in Milan sitting on my mother’s lap, I was dozing off until someone walked by, with an aura, unlike all others on the train. 

Skyscraper red heeled boots, black stockings, toned arms, sharp jawline, full colorful makeup, and distinctive curly long blonde hair. Amending masculine and feminine energy in a beautiful marriage of the two. 

I was petrified, as often anyone is when they encountered something new. 

The ringing of the subway doors opening interrupted my recollection. Wellesley Station was my stop, As I exited the platform I was greeted by the famous rainbow flags and gay bars of Church Street, Crews and Tangos was the final destination.

Crews and Tongos, a staple of drag in Toronto sits atop the list of gay bars that offer the best atmosphere for this spectacle. Bars are an old-school manner to consume drag shows but I knew no other manner would do if I wanted an authentic peek at the community.

According to an article from The Conversation there is an evolving distinction between new school drag and old school drag. Old school maintains its traditional venues such as bars and clubs as the stage of its performative form.

The line wasn’t long, slow Sunday I suppose yet the moment I walked in there was a sizzling appeal to this bar. It’s small intimate stage, the proximity of my seat, and the neon lights decorating the walls. There was something authentically special here.

Yet, I felt a discomfort drifting in the shallow-end of my stomach. 

A lone reporter mously making his way across a gay bar for the first time, attempting to fit in with the rest of the crowd, painfully aware I was the odd-man out. Nervous, paronically thinking I was to be exposed as a fraud any moment, that I would stand out and be ousted.

“Sorry about honey.” 

It was only a small moment, a stranger bumped into me as he was walking around my table to his friends, he placed his hand on my shoulder and apologized with a tone of voice so kind. Like a warm hug after a painful day.

I suddenly felt at home, might be ridiculous but there was a wordless acceptance at that moment, this man didn’t view me as an outsider, only someone he bumped into on his way to his friends, I wasn’t an intruder, just a person.

Then, the time came. The DJ raised his hands in the air and began to work his charismatic routine. 

“Does anyone have any allergies in the audience, because some of our performers contain nuts.” drawing laughter from the audience. “Crews and Tangos  please welcome to the stage Bearda Bidness.”

The sounds of Kylie Minogue’s song “Get out of my way” blast through the stage as Bearda Bidness walks onto the stage to begin a performance full of liberating energy. Encouraparating a balance of energetic voguing and acrobatic flips Bearda Bidness uses every bit of the stage to rock the crowd.

Tantalizing.

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