Bar DKDC: Sanctuary for Real People 

When it comes to drag performances, the higher the heels, the higher my expectations. Mary Gagz and Her Gaggle of Drags, performing at Karen Blockman Carrier's Bar DKDC every Monday night from 8:30 to 11 p.m., leave little to be desired in their full-on takeover of one of Memphis' favorite artful holes in the wall. The night also serves as the bar's industry night. The evening's general feel is reminiscent of Bar DKDC's sister restaurant, The Beauty Shop's Rehab nights that used to occur every Monday night. It's a throwback to the grand days of Rehab: late nights, a colorful cast, and the sort of hangovers that leave you questioning many of life's decisions. Looking for a reminder? Head to Bar DKDC and this time, remember to take off work on Tuesday.

We arrived about halfway through the show this past Monday and the girls and their fans were in full swing. Tia Burchfield is the bartender on Monday nights and said that part of the reason they began hosting Mary Gagz and the rest of her girls is to try out a re-launch of Rehab. The night includes a full show and industry night prices, including $5 well liquor drinks, $2 PBRs and High Lifes, and $6 Fireball and Tullamore Dew shots. If that doesn't serve to lube one up after a long weekend of working in hospitality, then your expectations are, honestly, way higher than the heels will ever be.

click to enlarge Mary Gagz and Her Gaggle of Drags - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Mary Gagz and Her Gaggle of Drags

In a manner, Bar DKDC caters overwhelmingly to us night owls; shows typically begin later and go late into the night. People roll in after long hours, ready to commiserate and imbibe with their fellow restaurant crews, eager to be among their people after dealing with the general public and their obnoxious children in various dining settings. That's the feeling at DKDC; it's authenticity and inclusion, a sanctuary for real people with real stories.

But unless you're living under Mississippi mud, you know about the musical acts at DKDC. Mary Gagz and Her Gaggle of Drags are relatively new to the lineup; they began their weekly performances in late January. From the looks of it, they've already established themselves in the fabric of Bar DKDC and its incredible ability to morph into a perfect venue for whichever act it is hosting. Everyone has probably spent a sweaty night in DKDC. Shows get packed and those who do not arrive early will be doomed (or delighted) to stand and sway with the music rather than find a comfortable seat. But that's the atmosphere! Get up close and personal with the rest of the fans. Pack into that small room and feel the passion. Find yourself falling backwards into the photobooth as the crowd runneth over. And, if you're Mary Gagz and company, work the room like you own it and take possession of the hearts and souls of those who watch.

The drag performance was a more low-key affair than the pulsating throng of people you normally encounter at a late-night weekend performance (and thank the heavens above; it's Monday, after all). The girls had plenty of room to move about, titillate, and invite others into their wild world. The audience came prepared to drink, cheer, and offer monetary support to our Memphis performers who put so much into their alter egos. Tia, our bartender who has probably seen her fair share of debauchery, rock-and-roll, and drunken exploits cited none of the former as her favorite reasons for working at DKDC. She simply said that it's the people that she works alongside that make her job most enjoyable. It speaks to the scene that Bar DKDC cultivates. It's a place for all of us, both queens and bartenders, both those looking for a thrill and those of us looking for a meal, both those in need of camaraderie and those in need of a break. DKDC bathes itself in a light that begs both for secrets to be kept and secrets to be told, and what better place for a drag show than that?

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  • Mary Gagz and Her Gaggle of Drags @ Bar DKDC

    • Mondays, 8:30-11 p.m. Continues through Nov. 27
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