Dragonna: A conversation with Christopher Dresden Styles

Vada Voices

We’re now into season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race (well, those of you in the US or with decent bandwith anyway…), and Madonna has a new studio album just around the corner! So what happens when you put those things together? Well, Pop Curious? organiser Christopher Dresden Styles is soon to find out with his upcoming event, Dragonna.

Two legendary divas, one amazing night – I met up with Christopher to find out a bit more…

First  things first. For the uninitiated, what is Pop Curious?

Pop Curious? started in 2009, and it grew from a club night I started the year before.

I like to listen to a bit of everything musically, so the initial brief was to play a commercial but eclectic range of pop music from over the years – modern pop music, 90s Britpop, 80s synth bands…

However, it turned out that people weren’t quite as receptive to the combination of genres as I’d have liked, so I rested the night and brought it back in 2012 but with a purely ‘pop’ outlook. It was a success, so I’ve been able to spin off my Britpop and synth leanings to run Britpop Curious? and Electropop Curious? as separate nights.

Nice to see it’s made a successful comeback. Any plans to do any other genre nights or are you sticking with those two?

Well, RnBEY has just launched at Sub 101 underneath Cruz, which is a commercial R&B night. That’s basically shed loads of the best Rihanna and Beyoncé singles and album tracks, buffered by other brilliant ‘pop & B’ artists and bands. If it’s got a filthy beat and pop attitude, it’s game for being played! That’s on every Thursday night, plus every second Friday of the month too.

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I also run Bar Minogue every so often too, which is a night dedicated exclusively to the music of Kylie and Dannii!

We had a raffle at the last one in December where the winners took home signed Minogue merchandise, and we’re planning the same thing for the next event on Friday 1 May at Bangkok Bar on Princess Street.

So what made you choose the Drag Race theme?

We’d already held a RuPaul’s Drag Race-themed disco at Pop Curious? last year, which was very popular, so it was only a matter of time before we announced another one. With the seventh season of RuPaul’s Drag Race premièring in the US at the start of March, it was an obvious time to do it again. Plus with Madonna releasing her new album in the same month, it made perfect sense to combine the two themes, hence ‘Dragonna’!

Great timing! I’m going assume you’re a Drag Race fan? Do you have a favourite queen from the show?

I have a quite a few, but I do love a bit of Bianca Del Rio. I’m a sucker for a quick wit in a frock. Otherwise I’m partial to a bit of Latrice Royale, plus of course everyone’s favourite honorary drag queen, Michelle Visage.

Good choices! Adore Delano might be my favourite, she’s just so adorable. Speaking of Michelle, I heard a rumour that you’ve met her. What’s she like?

Met her? She appeared at Pop Curious? last May at the first ever Hunty Games competition! She was our guest judge and read the queens who lip-synched for their lives to filth.

She was amazing, especially as she was suffering with a cold brought on by the Manchester weather! And she’s exactly the same off stage as she is on – completely lovely, charming and razor sharp.

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Well, colour me jealous. I’ve been dying to meet her. What about our own queens? Will any of Manchester’s famous queens be gracing us with their presence?

Well, we’ll have the formidable trio of Tilly Skreams, Candy Acid and Heroin Amor performing on stage throughout the night. Their group performance looks like it’s going to be great fun!

Tilly Skreams might even be convinced to perform her Drag Race tribute song to Michelle Visage, co-incidentally called ‘Michelle Visage’.

We have drag performances, plus loads of music from former Drag Race contestants, plus the best ‘Lip Sync for Your Life’ songs from the show – not to mention acres of Madonna songs from throughout her career!

It’s basically going to live up to the title of ‘Dragonna’. If you like both Madonna and Drag Race, you shouldn’t be disappointed!

We will be giving away a suitably themed prize for the best Madonna drag outfit on the night though!

Okay, I can’t miss that. I’m going to have to dig behind the sofa cushions for some cash! I once dressed as Mandonna (see what I did there? I didn’t shave…), I imagine the clientele will do a better job than I did.

‘Mandonna’? Now that sounds like something to tell the grandkids!

Probably not the most glamorous moment of my life! I think Kelly Mantle probably looked better in the bacon dress… But enough about my pitiful drag attempt. Who would you say is welcome? Who’s the night targeted at?

Well, every night I run is targeted at an LGBT audience, but I just consider them ‘straight friendly’, as such. Everyone is welcome to any of the nights I organise, just as long as they’re there to enjoy both themselves and the music!

Sounds good to me! I noticed it’s not in the gay village (or so I’ve been told, maybe I’m reading the map wrong), was that part of it being a ‘straight-friendly’ night or is it just a good venue for it?

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Well, RnBEY is held in the Village at Sub 101, and Bar Minogue is at Bangkok Bar, which is 30 seconds walk from the bottom of Canal Street.

However, Britpop Curious? and Electropop Curious? are held at Kraak in the Northern Quarter, and Pop Curious? is held at The Ruby Lounge on High Street.

Times have changed, and people no longer necessarily feel they have to stick to The Village to have a good trouble-free night. Nowadays folk are more open-minded about walking 10 minutes to get to a great event, which means introducing people to venues they otherwise wouldn’t have thought about going to, and that’s a good thing.

A good thing? It’s a brilliant thing! It’s great to know that Manchester is becoming a much more open and welcoming city. So is there going to be another lip syncing competition any time soon?

There’s a lip syncing competition at the next Hunty Games, which will be on later in the year.

Sounds amazing, I’ll have to make it to the Hunty Games too! That about sums up my line of questioning. Have you got anything else you’d like to plug? Anything available on iTunes in true Ru fashion?

Well, there’s going to be a special Electropop Curious? There’s also a live event at Kraak on Saturday 18 April, which is going to feature performances from the critically acclaimed Minute Taker, along with the first gig in almost two years from Manchester electropoppers The Imogen Styles – which I’m very excited about.

Plus there’s going to be a Pop Curious? Eurovision Spectacular at The Ruby Lounge on Saturday 23 May, too, so that’s worth sticking in the diary!

Looks like we’ve got a lot to be excited about! Hopefully I’ll be able to dig out some pennies and my best (only) Madonna outfit! I’m sure, with or without me, it’ll be a smashing success!

Photography by shortblondehair.co.uk.

Words by Samuel Alexander.

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