Performers feel they have room to experiment and are challenged to come up with new work. “[Nightgowns] really sets you up to fulfill these dreams and for me I’ve been able to just dream wild,” says Untitled Queen, a Brooklyn-based queen who’s also a Nightgowns resident artist. Another Nightgowns resident, Vander Von Odd, feels the show has allowed her to think about drag in a new way. “I think when you’re surrounded by so much creativity and so many loving people, it inspires so much more creativity,” she said.
As discussions around gender change, so too do those about the state of drag and what it can be. Nightgowns is one of the shows at the forefront of these changing discussions, allowing performers and audiences to access both emotion and glamour in the same night, often at the same time. There’s a sense of history, as well as a taste of the future of drag. Ultimately, the show’s goal is to create and carry community. “It’s so important that any community have a safe space that we can go into and, for a lack of a better word, have church,” Olive says of Nightgowns. “I don’t believe in organized religion, but [people] do have a need to congregate with each other and feel safe, uplift one another, sing songs, tell stories. It’s just very empowering...maybe it’s a good thing that we reclaim this idea of church and community. We as humans have a need to come together and celebrate and to revel in everyone’s happiness. There’s not enough of that in the world right now, so that’s why it’s really important.”