The Northern Dragshow on April 14th is set to shower the quiet northern town Akureyri with glitter and glamour.
The town of Akureyri is home to only 19,000 people and yet the yearly Northern Dragshow is a big event in the community, growing larger each year. With performers visiting from Reykjavík, alongside local talents and returning drag competition champions, this year’s show at Hof on April 14 is set to shower the quiet northern town with glamour.We talked to Hans Miniar Jónsson of Hin – Hinsegin Norðurland (LGBTQplus Northern Iceland) about the festivities and the small town queer scene.
What can people coming to see the the Northern Dragshow expect this time around?
“It will be an unbelievable night. Glamour, good music, glitter everywhere, or nearly everywhere. We’ll even have a pole on the stage. Still, we’ll try to keep it civil to some degree, since the queer community in the North is full of young people.”
“We have people from 17 to 35 years old and a diverse group coming on stage, from muscle men to pole-dancers. It will be unforgettable.”
What can you tell us about the performers?
“We have a wide variety of performers this year. Some of them have won awards in recent years, when the show operated as a drag competition. This includes Gógó Starr, who you can say started their career on our small stage and is one of three guests from the group Drag-Súgur. Some are taking part in a drag show for the first time ever. We have people from 17 to 35 years old and a diverse group coming on stage, from muscle men to pole-dancers. It will be unforgettable.”
Have you noticed a change in the public’s reception since you started doing these shows?
“The Northern Dragshow started as a small and neat drag competition, which we did in front of around 20 people at the Húsið room at Rósenborg in Akureyri. Since then, it has grown and moved and we got too big for that room a long time ago. If things go as expected, this will be by far our biggest show yet and we might even have to get a bigger room next year.”
What else has been going on in the drag scene up north?
“This yearly event has been the biggest component of the Akureyri drag scene, but there was a high school competition last year and the Reykjavík Kabarett put up an amazing show here recently, with Gógó coming along for that one. We want to keep the scene going between the yearly main events and we’re looking into the possibility of hosting smaller events in between.”
Are most of your guests local or have people been travelling to Akureyri to see the show?
“Most of the guests have been from the Akureyri area, but we’ve seen some people making the trip, either to perform or to watch. Everyone is welcome and we’d like to encourage people to make the trip and enjoy the town.”
There seems to be a big upswing in the Icelandic drag scene these days. To what do you attribute the popularity?
“Gógó has of course been doing incredible things with Drag-Súgur and revitalizing the scene in Reykjavík, since winning the title of Drag Queen of Iceland. And RuPaul’s Drag Race is popular with the younger generation. In general, we seem to
“ … the countryside communities would be a lot less vibrant if all the queer people moved south!”
be allowing ourselves to play more around with gender roles than we did a few years ago. The popularity of drag may be linked to that development.”
Are there any specific challenges you face, growing this culture in a small community?
“The small population, first and foremost. It can be tricky involving enough people, because the size of Reykjavík’s LGBT+ community is attractive. Our young people tend to go south to study or seek other opportunities, since there’s more activity and a variety of events where the population is larger. But the countryside communities would be a lot less vibrant if all the queer people moved south!”
What else do you have going on in the Akureyri community?
“At Hinsegin Norðurland, we host weekly meetings in the winter months at Húsið, where the younger people, mostly under 25, meet up, hang out and chat. We run a Facebook group for queer people over 20 in the area and plan events for them. We’re planning the summer season and our participation in Reykjavík Pride. The other main component of our work is offering educational seminars for schools in the north and east of the country, as well as other groups who invite us to come. We have a dream to work with The National Queer Organization in coordinating LGBT+ awareness and education nationwide, but we need more participation from local government to make this a reality.”