This week TheirStories swung back into the calendar at The Standard, London with their first event of 2022. TheirStories is an evening of cultural discussion, performance and music in The Library Lounge, celebrating the UK’s thriving LGBTIQA+ community, curated by Laurie Belgrave, founder of The Chateau.For this very special event we welcomed groundbreaking radical collective Drag Syndrome; a drag troupe formed entirely of performers with Down Syndrome.Their profile has risen dramatically since forming in 2018 and they are now in global demand, touring across the world alongside regular collaborations with Vogue, Dazed, Tate Modern & The Royal Opera House, as well as becoming viral sensations on Tiktok. We were honoured that they found time in their busy schedules to take over The Standard, London for one night of conversation, discussion, music and mesmerising performance.
The corridors of the hotel were buzzing all day, with multiple photographers shooting Drag Syndrome across the building. King Justin Bond lounged in the bathtub for one shot in the collective’s private suite on the 9th floor, whilst Lady Mercury elegantly posed draped in the luxurious sheer curtains of the newly opened Sweeties bar, and Nikita Gold cut shapes against the iconic floor to ceiling backdrop of St Pancras station. As evening drew in The Library Lounge began to fill with the expectant buzz of a sold-out audience. Seats and glasses filled as Drag Syndrome descended the lift from their suite and entered The Library Lounge to rapturous applause.
As with all TheirStories events, this evening was not just about performance and music, but the narratives and stories behind the members of the collective. Laurie Belgrave welcomed Drag Syndrome onto the stage and Lady Francesca, Lady Mercury, Nikita Gold, Justin Bond and Divina Starr introduced themselves and their drag personas. What followed was a rich discussion, filled with inspirational words from the kings & queens, plus plenty of laughter and emotion as we learned about the high and lows of being Drag Syndrome performers. From their favourite shows to being banned from performing in Michigan just for expressing themselves, the queens & kings generously shared their journeys with us. Lady Mercury was also able to take a moment to speak powerfully in support of the people of Ukraine.
After a short intermission the collective returned to the stage for their solo numbers. Nikita Gold performed beautifully to Aldous Harding, Lady Mercury took us on an emotional journey to Lana Del Rey, King Justin Bond tore through Harry Styles ‘Golden’ and Lady Francesca stunned the crowd with her moves to Mary J. Blige ‘Family Affair’. And it really was a family affair, as the final group number ensued and the collective invited the audience onto the stage for one final dance.
It was an evening filled with pure joy. In times that often feel dark, Drag Syndrome provided the light we so desperately needed on a cold Monday night in February. We all have much to learn from this very special troupe of performers. Catch them soon before they set off on their next global adventure.
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