One of Iceland’s biggest queer events of the winter is just around the corner and this year a very special guest is here to join the party.
The drag queen Detox will be making an appearance at this year’s Rainbow Reykjavík. Pink Iceland’s eighth annual winter pride event kicks off on Thursday, March 7 and runs until Sunday, March 10, and there will be plenty of chances to meet the former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant.
This isn’t Detox’s first time in Iceland — she headlined last summer’s Reykjavík Pride festival too. But Pink Iceland’s co-owner Hannes Páll Pálsson says the idea of bringing Detox in for Rainbow Reykjavík has been brewing since the drag queen’s first visit to Iceland a year and a half ago.
“She posted something on her Facebook that she was coming to Iceland, and we reached out as Pink Iceland and said, ‘Hey if you’re coming to Iceland let’s meet up and we’ll show you a good time,’ ” Hannes says. “She and her assistant BJ have just become really close friends with us now and it’s really sweet.”
“She’s coming to host it for us and then she’s going to take a few days off just to hang out afterwards as well, because she’s just super in love with Iceland.”
Hannes says they were having dinner together on Detox’s last night in Iceland when he brought up the idea of her performing at Rainbow Reykjavík. From the beginning, Hannes says she was excited about the idea.
“She’s coming to host it for us and then she’s going to take a few days off just to hang out afterwards as well, because she’s just super in love with Iceland,” Hannes says. “She’s been super welcomed here and feels great about it.”
People who have tickets to the whole festival will get to meet Detox at the opening event on Thursday before visiting the Blue Lagoon with her on Friday. On Saturday she’ll be hosting the festival’s cornerstone event: the annual Masquerade Ball.
“There’s going to be a meet and greet there before the party starts,” Hannes says about the Ball. “She’s also going to be the judge of the catwalk that we’re doing to host.
It’s something that we did last year as well, which is paying homage to the ball culture of the early 1980s New York era.”
In addition to the appearance by Detox, Hannes says there will also be performances by local drag queens.
Of course, as a Masquerade Ball, everyone is also encouraged to don their own masks and costumes.
“People super dress up for the ball, so you’re probably not even going to know who’s there to entertain because it’ll all be so entertaining,” Hannes says.
The first poolside drag show in Iceland
One new addition to this year’s festival is a special Golden Circle tour that will take place before the Masquerade Ball on Saturday.
“We’re going to take everybody to this pool in Hveragerði,” Hannes says. “People can go into the pool or the hot tubs or whatever, and we’re going to have a drag show right there outside, while people are in the pool. I think it may be the first poolside drag show that we’ve had in Iceland. That’s one of the things that we’re super excited about this year.”
This year marks the eighth year that Pink Iceland has hosted its winter pride event — which also coincides with the eighth anniversary of the tourism company.
“It was one of the first things we ever did as a company,” Hannes says. “Even though we’ve changed so much and grown so much as a company, this little winter pride is always a great reminder of where we started and what we were doing in the beginning.”
He says the festival came about from a desire to host an event during the winter, which is typically the low season for tourism in Iceland.
“The fact that we’re called Iceland, we really should have winter tourism. So we thought, let’s do something fun for the winter months,” Hannes says.
“And also do something for the community. We really encourage Icelanders to take part in whatever they can. The winter here is long so we need any excuse we can to party and have fun and meet people.”
“Even though we’ve changed so much and grown so much as a company, this little winter pride is always a great reminder of where we started and what we were doing in the beginning.”
Since it started, Hannes says Rainbow Reykjavík has always attracted a fairly small and intimate crowd, which he says is one of the draws of the festival.
“You get to know everyone,” he says. “That’s what we love most about the festivals that we’ve had in the past. Even at this year’s festival, we’re getting I think two or three people who have been here a few times already. People make really significant connections at a festival like this and they stay in touch. There are people who met each other at Rainbow Reykjavík and they still travel together six years later.”
Although the trip to the Blue Lagoon on Friday is restricted to people who have tickets for the whole festival, Hannes says other individual events — such as the poolside drag show in Hveragerði — are open to the public. Tickets can be purchased by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, everyone is encouraged to attend the Masquerade Ball, which starts at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 9 at the Iðno Theatre. For more information about the festival visit www.rainbowreykjavik.is.