‘Drag on The Drag’ provides welcoming atmosphere, free entertainment for UT-Austin students

Dina Barrish

Dressed in a gown adorned with glued-on sunflowers, a wig and seven-inch heels, Celia Light performed in drag for the first time at the Dobie City Limits Festival in 2018. Just seconds into her live performance, she fell off a picnic table.

“I felt a lot of enthusiasm from the crowd,” said Light, a drag performer and the Dobie Twenty21 Student Spaces marketing director. “While I cringe at that moment, I also appreciate it. It felt like I found the thing I was always meant to do.”

After the festival, Light continued to perform in drag at Dobie, often after “RuPaul’s Drag Race” watch parties. By February 2020, she was performing weekly shows with a group of six queens from around Texas and eventually named the spontaneous events “Drag on The Drag.” While Light has been enrolled at UT for two years, she is currently not taking classes.

“I was able to create something I didn’t even know I was creating,” Light said. “Being a drag queen, you have to be your own makeup artist, your own costume designer. … Whenever we want to do something, it’s very much on the spot.”

Birdie, a queen from Archer City, Texas, became best friends with Light at a drag show in the summer of 2018. She moved to Austin at the end of 2020 and decided to room with Light, which led her to perform in Drag on The Drag.

“I was born a queen,” Birdie said. “Celia Light gives anybody who’s interested, anybody at all, the opportunity to show what they’ve got. You are not only capable of doing whatever you want, but you owe it to yourself to do that.”

Drag on The Drag runs one Friday each month, and Light said she hopes to expand to twice a month. Although the show itself is free, Light passes out the queens’ Venmo links so that audience members can leave tips.

“The queens and I do the show completely out of the love for doing (drag),” Light said. “It’s not about money. It’s not about looking the best. It’s all about entertaining, having a good time and really bringing people together.”

To keep each other and their audience safe from COVID-19, the queens perform on Dobie’s outdoor patio in clear plastic masks for a socially distanced audience.

“People needed (drag) this last year more than ever,” Birdie said. “You want to be with (the audience), you want to hold their hands, you want to hug them, but you can’t.”

Civil engineering freshman Chantal Guerrero said she started attending Drag on The Drag because the shows were COVID-safe, convenient and fun. She said she goes to almost every show and encourages friends to join her.

“Anyone I’ve invited really enjoyed (Drag on The Drag),” Guerrero said. “It’s just something I felt like I’d never experienced before, something to start the weekend off (right).”

Since her drag debut in 2018, Light has performed in multiple casts both within and outside of Austin. She said her proudest accomplishment is still creating Drag on The Drag.

“What I love most about Drag on The Drag is that people have found themselves,” Light said. “Anything that I can do to reach out to people and make them feel like they’re welcome and that they have somewhere to go or something to do on a Friday night … that alone just makes my heart soar.”