Manitoba

Winnipeg drag queens go mainstream with Union Sound Hall party

For the first time, Winnipeg’s Union Sound Hall is hosting a drag show Saturday night – a move to the mainstream that’s a long time coming for the city’s shrinking drag community.

Breyanna Burlesque, 3 other drag queens to grace stage at Aint Nothin But a She Thing DJ party

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      For the first time, Winnipeg’s Union Sound Hall is hosting a drag show Saturday night – a move to the mainstream that’s a long time coming for the city’s shrinking drag community.

      Mama Custworth and DJ J. Jackson are hosting another all-diva dance party at 10 p.m. at The Exchange District venue.
      Dar Lepine take about two hours to transform from Dar to Breyanna Burlesque. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)

      Their DJ duo, House of Gold Diamonds, plays all diva tracks from artists like Whitney Houston and Madonna.

      The last diva dance party sold out, but the duo didn’t want to stop there.

      “They wanted to go big and better and why not hire a bunch of drag queens?” said Dar Lepine, whose stage name is Breyanna Burlesque.

      Burlesque, Tyra Boinks, Satina Loren and Vida Lamour Decosmo will all take the stage for a multi-song and dance number spanning generations of divas from Dolly Parton to Whitney Houston.

      Even though Delpine has been doing drag for the past 14 years, he still gets nervous.

      “I love being on stage, and I love performing. It’s an adrenaline high more than anything,” said Lepine. “I still get nervous every time I go on stage.”

      And it’s not getting easier – Winnipeg’s drag community is in decline.

      Lepine started in June 2000.

      “It was actually a dare to begin with. A couple of friends had actually dared Vida and I to get in drag for Pride one year and we were like, ‘No, that’s not our thing!’ and then they convinced us and then we did it and we had so much fun and 14 years later we’re still doing it,” said Lepine.

      Then, the community was about 50 strong. But now, there’s a lot less.
      Two fans are an important part of the two-hour getting ready routine. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)

      “The drag community is really small [here.] There’s, I would say, maybe 20 queens in the city,” said Lepine. “It’s just that people have moved on, have done different things and no longer want to do it.”

      That’s in part due to the fact drag queens can’t make a full-time living performing in Winnipeg.

      In Toronto or Vancouver, though, it’s a different story.

      “There’s still this stereotype about doing drag especially in Winnipeg,” he said. “It’s almost like a sign of wanting to be a woman or being feminine … but it’s not at all. I’m definitely happy to be a boy. I just love performing. I love having that second persona.”

      But Lepine, who has a full-time job as a flight attendant, concedes he wouldn’t want to leave the city.

      “I love Winnipeg. I couldn’t [move]” he said. “I don’t think I would want to do this as an everyday job. It’s tough. I don’t know how some of the Ru Paul girls do it day in and day out.”

      So for now, Lepine is happy performing every Saturday at Club 200 and getting extra gigs like the one at Union Sound Hall on Saturday.


      Ain’t Nothin’ But A She Thing starts at 10 p.m. Saturday night. Tickets are $10 and available for purchase at the door.

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