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‘It has just grown legs, put on heels, and ran from there’: The Dublin experimental drag party pushing boundaries

Donna Fella, Naomi Diamond and Shaqira Knightly are drawing big crowds to their Haus of WIG parties

Over the past year or so, an expansive and often experimental drag party in Dublin has been pulling in crowds of all kinds. In the audience are the drag-curious, veterans of the Irish queer scene, and serious drag fans. This is Haus of WIG.

Run by the artists and performers Donna Fella, Naomi Diamond and Shaqira Knightly, Haus of WIG began as a competition night at the Grand Social. (It was won by Annie Queeries.) The party then moved across the Liffey to the Workmans Club. Adam Hannon, aka Shaqira Knightly, says the impetus for starting a haus – which is to say a collective – rather than the performers branching out on their own “was that we would have that rolling support network” and could easily share knowledge and expertise.

“We all helped each other in different ways. I think we got to the point when we got to Workmans where we were very defined as our drag characters. We had a strong feeling that if we could create the surroundings to be conducive to our imagination – in the spirit of it being so varied across the three of us, that sense of variety, community, the different performers you could be exposed to – it would work.”

Those surroundings are now the Sugar Club, on Leeson Street in Dublin. To date, seven Haus of WIG parties have sold out. “It has just grown legs, put on heels, and ran from there,” says Hannon, who grew up with Naomi Diamond and met Donna Fella while they were both studying music at college. (Hannon is an accomplished harpist and pianist.) Guest performers have included the burlesque artist Bonnie Boux, the drag artists Anziety and Viola Gayvis, the aerialist Chloe Cummins, the performance artist Dr Count Evil – also a talented make-up artist and illustrator – and the pole artist Avatar Guille.


The most recent party, a Christmas-themed show, began with Shaqira Knightly, Naomi Diamond and Donna Fella descending steps the length of the venue somehow collectively dressed as the Coca-Cola truck from the Christmas television ad. Avatar Guille was a highlight. The extreme physicality and athleticism of the Venezuelan artist’s performance – one in the spirit of Ursula, from The Little Mermaid – were breathtaking.

“There’s a secret to unlocking that part of you and then being able to lock it back away again, and present that at any given moment,” says Hannon. “When we curate the shows and figure out what we want them to feel like, we think of who the best people are to bring that idea to life.”

Dublin has a deep and diverse history of alternative drag, and of underground (often literally) queer-cabaret parties, much of it built on the legacy of Alternative Miss Ireland

One of the joys of drag performance is the invention necessary to bring high production values to performances in bars and on club stages. This spirit is especially in evidence at Haus of WIG’s Sugar Club parties. “The pole artists, the aerial artists: if there’s extra stuff to show, this is the place to do it,” Hannon says. “Lighting, smoke, visuals: if you’re looking for somewhere to trial something that is very new, very ‘you’ as an artist, you’re in safe hands with the production.

“We tend not to overdirect anybody, but what we do say is, ‘We want your contrasting parts as an artist to be very present in the show, because that’s what works… We want every moment to be a showstopper moment, so what does that look like? Play with the extremes of your art.’”

Dublin has a deep and diverse history of alternative drag, and of underground (often literally) queer-cabaret parties, much of it built on the legacy of Alternative Miss Ireland. One of the most exciting nights is Egg, a DIY queer cabaret that follows in the footsteps of performance nights such as Glitter Hole and Spicebag.

Egg won multiple Dublin Fringe Festival Awards in 2023 for their production The Proclamation of the Irish Republegg, taking home the Beyond the Pale prize for “outstanding performance work with the potential to transcend boundaries”, along with Pea Dineen winning the Next Stage award and Tadhg Griffin winning the Radical Spirit award. The Egg performer Sarah Devereux was also nominated for the Spirit of Wit award.

The next Haus of WIG party is at the Sugar Club on Friday, February 23rd. Its theme is transformation: Hannon talks about how one element of the night will be the literal, gradual transformation of one participant into drag as the evening goes on. Hannon says they want the parties to “become a staple of the city”. From the wild reaction of crowds so far, that ambition is already being fulfilled.