It’s the hottest ticket in town with the show selling in out in only twenty minutes. Tonight is the fourteenth Gala of the Drag Queen and the whole population of Gran Canaria and many others will be watching the show in anticipation.
It’s that time of year again when villages, towns and cities around the island come alive with the colour and chaos of Carnival. The whole island lets loose in a kind of collective madness with everyone donning fancy dress, participating in lively street parades brimming over with conveys of colourful floats, huge open-air parties and special themed nights.
In the past, by far, the biggest and most popular Carnival event was the capital city’s Carnival Queen competition. The highlight of two weeks of partying – this show was attended by thousands of spectators as well as the media.
Young women, chosen to represent local businesses, would struggle out onto the main stage to strut their stuff – or at least as far as they were able to, under the burden of huge extravagant dresses which often weighed more than they did – in hope that they would be crowned as the Carnival Queen.
However, in recent years this star event has been eclipsed by another, much less traditional but irresistibly irreverent celebration – that of the Gala of the Drag Queen.
From its beginnings over a decade ago, this preposterous parody of the Carnival Queen competition, has seen hundreds of candidates (all male) deck themselves out in outrageous outfits, vertigo-provoking platforms, layers of scary makeup, over the top wigs, and enough plumage to make the world’s population of exotic birds fearful for their feathers.
These wannabe queens of drag have thrilled audiences with racy performances, acrobatic dance routines, questionable lip-syncing – and by pulling more than a few surprises out of their corsets.
Despite the initial shock of seeing a stage full of strapping men in drag, this bacchanalian bonanza has become the most popular show during the carnival calendar with entrance tickets selling out in less that half an hour and people queuing all day to bag the best seats.
More that ten years on from when that first candidate hobbled precariously on to the stage in a rainbow of colours – the Gala of the Drag Queen now occupies a special place in the hearts of the people of Gran Canaria.
Nowadays, carnivals in smaller towns feature drag queen competitions and this feathered phenomenon has even spread, to be copied by other islands -establishing itself as an unlikely, curious but undeniable Canarian custom.