“Shantay, you stay”… or “sashay away”… which will it be? None of us can deny the impact that Ru Paul’s Drag Race has had on pop culture in the past few years – and thank bloody goodness, as what’s more fun than seeing people express themselves exactly how they want?! Luckily for us Londoners, there are countless places in the big smoke where you can watch the queens strut their stuff. From down-and-dirty spots to prestigious Grade II-listed venues (oh yes indeed), here’s our rundown of some of the best places to watch drag shows in London. Note to self – stag and hens aren’t welcome. Sorry folks!
1. Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, Bethnal Green
Kicking off this roundup of the best spots to watch drag shows in London is the legendary Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club – which might just have the most exciting roster of events found at one venue in the whole of London. It’s practically the stuff of legend at this point, and the nights on offer here range from indie and post-punk takeovers, to David Lynch-inspired performances, cosmic bingo, burlesque, ‘hedonistic cabaret-cum-clubnights’ and, of course, karaoke.
Let’s not also forget its raucous drag nights, which include ‘Queens of Pop’ – a fun-as-hell evening which combines some of the best pop bangers – hello Britney, Bey and Rih Rih – with ‘fire performances from a host of quality queens’. Bow down bitches!
📍You’ll find Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club at 42-46 Pollard Row, London, E2 6NB.
🚇 Nearest station is Bethnal Green.
2. Bar Salsa!, Soho
Everyone’s favourite Latin American bar, Salsa! is also not only good for raucous bottomless brunches and fun salsa classes (what else?), but it’s also pretty famous for its drag shows too. One of our favourites is the ‘Buff Bingo Bottomless Brunch’, which gives the favourite British game a sassy twist and a large helping of spice.
Bingo will be the centrepiece for one hell of a crazy brunch party with added performances from two of London’s biggest drag queens – Ophelia Love and Herr The Queen. Butlers in the buff will also be on serving duty, and to top it all off, there will even be prizes to be won. Winner, winner. Get a hold of your tickets here.
📍You’ll find Bar Salsa! Soho at 96 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0JG.
🚇 Nearest station is Tottenham Court Road.
3. The Clapham Grand, Clapham Junction
Another one of London’s favourite LGBTQ+ venues, The Clapham Grand is a – wait for it – Victorian-theatre-turned-music-hall-turned-all-round-entertainment-hub. And it’s bloody brilliant it has to be said. Whether you’re looking for live music, boozy bingo, stand-up comedy, karaoke, sing-along movies, or just a good old fashioned knees-up, then this iconic spot has something to entertain everybody.
They’ve also got some cracking drag shows on the roster here too, and often they’ve got stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race treading the catwalk here. Not bad hey?! Plus, with an atmosphere as gorgeous as its architecture, there’s a reason why people have been flooding through the doors of this Grade II-listed building since 1900. Round up your pals and have a grandddd old time.
📍You’ll find The Clapham Grand at 21-25 St John’s Hill, London, SW11 1TT.
🚇 Nearest station is Clapham Junction.
One thing’s for sure at The Eagle – you’ll never have a boring night out. This Vauxhall-based spot has been going strong for years, with its New York Meatpacking district-inspired décor and wide variety of nights attracting all kinds of crowds. Head to their weekly Horse Meat Disco night on Sundays where the famous DJs themselves spin the decks until the wee hours, or if you’re wanting to see some drag queens strut their stuff, then Duckie on the final Saturday of every month is when you need to head on down.
Taking place during the day – 2pm to 8pm we’ll have you know – they’ve got everything from theatre and ‘readers wives’ to DJs and ‘glitter bomb dancers’. It costs just a tenner and sounds like a jolly good knees’ up to us.
📍You’ll find The Eagle at 349 Kennington Lane, London, SE11 5QY.
🚇 Nearest station is Vauxhall.
5. The Phoenix Arts Club, Tottenham Court Road
A hidden gem right in the heart of Central London, The Phoenix Arts Club is a ‘secret basement bar’ – and you know how much we love them – situated right under the theatre of the same name. Part cabaret bar, part ‘theatrical hangout’, it’s a lively spot which is technically a members’ club – though you can also purchase tickets for a show and become a member for the night.
Taking in everything from aerial performances to comedy, it’s really worth a visit here, especially for their ‘BOiBOX’ night – the birthplace of Drag King legends and the cornerstone of the UK Drag King Scene. It’s always a lot of fun, so get yourself down there and see what all the fuss is about! You should also check out their ‘Saturday Supershow’ – get a hold of your tickets here.
📍You’ll find The Phoenix Arts Club at 1 Phoenix Street, London, WC2H 8BU.
🚇 Nearest station is Tottenham Court Road.
6. The Two Brewers, Clapham
Down at Two Brewers, punters are treated to a whirlwind of a night every single day of the week – all the way until the early hours. Whether it’s a buzzing drag show, a pub quiz or simply hours of screaming along to pop bangers, this is a night that pretty much anyone and everyone should attend. You’re bound to leave with a smile on your face and no voice left!
Don’t miss their cabaret nights which are on throughout the week. Hosted by a whole gamut of different drag queens, they’re a hell of a lot of fun so get yourself down to Clapham North!
📍You’ll find The Two Brewers at 114 Clapham High Street, London, SW4 7UJ.
🚇 Nearest station is Clapham North.
7. The Glory, Haggerston
Now when it comes to fun nights out, you can’t really do better than Haggerston-based The Glory. It prides itself in being one of East London’s best gay bars, drag hothouses, LGBTQ+ performance venues, nightclubs, and curators of London shows, festivals, contests and battles too. Phew!
You can find drag shows and LGBTQ+ arts events taking place here most evenings, and smashing late-night parties at the weekend in the basement below too. It’s proudly owned by famous drag queens Jonny Woo and John Sizzle, it’s the place to go if you’re looking for a boogie and a fun night.
📍You’ll find The Glory at 281 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8AS.
🚇 Nearest station is Haggerston.
London’s hottest new venue, Wonderville offers a world of cabaret, comedy, music and magic all under one roof in London’s West End. At this one-stop-shop of entertainment, which opened back in March, the fun doesn’t just start at 7.30pm like at many of its neighbours. From midday onwards daily, you can venture in, grab a spot at one of the tables at the foot of the grand stage, and enjoy cocktails, wine and snacks with your group.
Their roster of events is pretty bloomin’ great, and includes film screenings, theatre, and even pantomimes when it comes to the Crimbo season. Don’t miss their upcoming Puss In Boots panto – an LGBTQ+-friendly affair which features more than its fair share of drag queens.
📍You’ll find Wonderville at 57-60 Haymarket, St. James’s, London, SW1Y 4QX.
🚇 Nearest station is Piccadilly.
9. The Admiral Duncan, Soho
Another one of the best spots in town for drag shows in London is The Admiral Duncan – a friendly old boozer frequented by locals which is set right on Old Compton Street. It’s often a lively spot which has a party-style atmosphere, so no wonder it’s one of the best spots for drag shows in London then!
Pretty much every day of the week involves a drag show, though we happen to love the cabaret nights here. Running until midnight, they’re hosted by drag queens and there are performances aplenty! The perfect spot if you’re in Soho we’d argue. They’re also dog-friendly, so bring along your four-legged friends!
📍You’ll find The Admiral Duncan at 54 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4UD.
🚇 Nearest station is Leicester Square.
10. Halfway to Heaven, Charing Cross
Located between Charing Cross Station and Trafalgar Square, Halfway To Heaven is a traditional gay pub and cabaret show bar with a laid-back ground floor and club-like basement area. The best kind of venue we’d argue…
The pub itself is located just a stone’s throw from Heaven, a Charing Cross nightclub that’s practically a stalwart of the LGBTQ+ scene, which gave Halfway To Heaven its name. Duh! This little gem is also jam-packed with fabulous, flamboyant cabaret, seven days a week, from the best in the business – AKA drag queens like Kelly Mild and MARTHUR DARTHUR.
📍You’ll find Halfway to Heaven at 7 Duncannon Street, London, WC2N 4JF.
🚇 Nearest station is Charing Cross.
11. The Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zedel, Piccadilly Circus
We love Brasserie Zedel here at Secret London – I mean, who doesn’t love French food – but did you also know that there’s also an effing great live music and cabaret venue here? Called The Crazy Coqs, it’s an intimate, Art Deco-styled performance space that also holds theatrical stuff as well as comedy and jazz.
Of course this being a drag shows in London roundup, they also have got some drag on the bill. Plus, you can also stick around after the last show on a Friday and Saturday night and you’ll get to enjoy a free musical performance! Get. In.
📍You’ll find The Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zedel, 20 Sherwood Street, London, W1B 5AP.
🚇 Nearest station is Piccadilly Circus.
12. The Karaoke Hole, Dalston
Listen up dear reader. Is singing tunes your idea of a fun night out? Then you’re in real luck with this one. The Karaoke Hole is Dalston Superstore’s little sister venue, and combines into one hell of a melting pot the excitement of drag shows with live karaoke, inviting party people to own the stage themselves.
This animated spot also hosts some pretty damn good drag shows, as well as bottomless prosecco pizza parties — what more of a reason do you need to go?
📍You’ll find The Karaoke Hole at 95 Kingsland High Street, London, E8 2PB.
🚇 Nearest station is Dalston Kingsland.
13. CellarDoor, Aldywch
Our penultimate entry onto this roundup of the best drag shows in London is CellarDoor – an intimate and quirky spot right under One Aldwych which, according to their Instagram page, is where ‘30’s Berlin meets an NY basement dive’. As the entrance suggests, this used to actually be a public toilet, and though it’s pretty darn cosy, it certainly still packs an almighty punch.
📍You’ll find CellarDoor at Zero Aldwych, Wellington Street, London, WC2E 7DN.
🚇 Nearest station is Temple.
Now we couldn’t end this roundup of the best places for drag shows in London without mentioning this one now – could we? The Royal Vauxhall Tavern – or RVT as it’s affectionately nicknamed – has a long, proud history as a party destination for celebrities, drag queens, and the great and good of the LGBTQ+ community, with the site’s first drag shows dating back to after WW2. More recently, in 2015, it became the first building in the UK to gain Grade II-listed status on the basis of its importance to the LGBTQ+ community.
It also plays host to some of the best drag shows in the capital, and also has burlesque, cabaret, and all manner of other fun things on the roster. Whatever’s on, you’re guaranteed a ruddy good time at this spot – we’ll see you on the dancefloor!
📍You’ll find the Royal Vauxhall Tavern at 372 Kennington Lane, London, SE11 5HY.
🚇 Nearest station is Vauxhall.
So there you have it – a roundup of 14 of the best drag shows in London. So best dust off those gladrags, get your party shoes on and get ready to have one hell of a night darling!