Celebrations for Vancouver’s Drag Scene Anything But a Drag

Trangender Visibility Day follows a 10-year anniversary showcase of Vancouver drag troupe Map Up!


Reported by Cloe Logan

Gender will be performed in many ways throughout Vancouver this weekend as the anniversary of a drag troupe merges with celebrations for Transgender Day of Visibility.

Man Up originated a decade ago as a club night where female bodied drag kings could perform in Vancouver. Today, it has become a group that welcomes “drag queens, kings and things” to perform a myriad of gender expressions.

Paige “Ponyboy” Frewer was one of the initial organizers of Man Up, but said the collaboration between the community and performers was responsible for the evolution of the event.  

“Where we’re at now compared to where we started is just this incredibly varied and multifaceted concept of gender performance and being an all-bodies, all genders sort of scene,” Frewer said.

When Cazzwell van Dyke started performing drag locally 13 years ago, they said there was a lack of respect between drag kings and queens. According to them, the timing of Man Up’s fruition glued the two scenes together, and allowed all gender performers to collaborate.

Cazzwell van Dyke is known for their David Bowie performances, which you can witness at Man Up’s anniversary party this Friday, March 30. (Dezzart Photography)

I feel like Man Up has bonded the community together and helped heal some of those wounds that did not necessarily need to be there,” Van Dyke said.

Recently, an international drag icon publicly said they would “probably not” allow a trans woman to compete on the reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race. For Frewer, the popularity of the show has positively influenced the drag scene by making queer visibility more mainstream, but can be oppressive by not recognizing the variety of forms drag can consist of.  

“We’re trying to push those boundaries and be more inclusive and radical,” Frewer said.

Frewer and van Dyke both perform with Anasteja Layne, a transgender activist, in Man-Up. Layne started a new performance troupe eight months ago called Coconutz and Bananas for trans performers, which will perform at The Odyssey for Transgender Day of Visibility on Saturday, the night after Man Up’s 10 year anniversary celebration.

“If you can be a person who’s passionate about mastering arts as a whole and you have something you want to say to the world, then you are absolutely included into the drag scene,” Layne said.

“It doesn’t matter if you black, white, blue, cisgendered, non-binary or trans you just have to have the courage to stand up on stage and deliver that message,” Layne-Siren said.

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