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Local Drag Queen Starts Chattanooga’s First DragRave

Chattanooga drag queen Gin Von Tonic, in collaboration with other local artists and businesses, organized the city’s first DragRave: a mix of drag, music, and art to create a unique experience surrounding self-expression.

DragRave started as a simple conversation between Gin and Sunshine Hampton, the event coordinator at WanderLinger Brewing Company, about upcoming show ideas with the brewery’s performer, DJ Mystery Box.

“DJ Mystery Box had a twice a month residency with WanderLinger,” Gin said, “where one of the events was an EDM styled night to feature himself, along with special guest DJs. But for the other monthly night, he wanted to include performance artists of some type.”

After a brainstorming session with Gin, Sunshine, Mystery Box, and local drag queen Ciran Chanel Stratton, they all came upon the idea of a combined rave and drag show, and thus, DragRave was born.

Gin and Ciran located performers, Mystery Box prepared music, and Sunshine created set pieces. The team also organized “art experiences like face painting, glow painting, live painting, [and] decoration stations.”

“We want people to come and be themselves for a night, no matter how unique, crazy, or different that might be,” Gin said. “I’m hoping to send a message that says, ‘hey, no matter what you’re into, no matter your background, we want you to come and have a good time.’”

The event quickly gained popularity and support. “The reaction from the LGBTQ+ community has been received well,” Gin said. “We’ve received an incredible amount of love from the EDM community here in Chattanooga, too.”

DragRave has been an incredibly positive experience for Gin so far. “Being an LGBTQ+ artist in Chattanooga is interesting,” she said. “Because there are some people who won’t understand, being in the south, but I have to say that Chattanooga, especially downtown, is an amazing open minded pocket for art. Especially the environment that WanderLinger has created.”

“We really aim to feature a variety of different types of entertainers,” Gin continued. “All drag, but we feature the pretty dancing queens, as well as the alternative ‘in your face’ entertainers. … We want every performer to be unique in what they bring to the stage.”

For the time being, the team is focused on coming up with different themes for each month and making each DragRave the best it can be.

“We do have some things in the works for next year potentially, but we’d rather keep you surprised for now,” Gin added.

“[T]his event is really its own breed,” she concluded. “Nothing as big and extra has been executed before.”

Check out past DragRaves and stay updated on future events on Facebook and Instagram!