Cinderella on platforms

How a small and modest gala became a worldwide star of Carnival: The Drag Queen Gala in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 20 February, 2020.— This story began two decades ago: the organising committee of the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Carnival had the audacity, although not without a certain reticence, to include an explosive novelty in its programme. That is, a Drag Queen Gala in which the “reinonas” (crossdressing queens) as they were then known, would compete for the fiestas’ alternative sceptre. This was to be on a weekday, and without much attention from the media or television.

How the story has changed! That contest turned out to be perfectly in tune with the spirit of freedom that Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Carnival has always exuded since its earliest days. That is, transgression, transformation into other fairytale creatures (of Carnival), the passport to provocation... to make people laugh, no holds barred: all this is taken as read in the most important festival in winter-time in the capital of Gran Canaria.

The Drag Queen Gala soon became a leading player in the programme (and moved from a weekday to the bank holidays). The massive influx of the public in the first years of its celebration in Santa Catalina lent weight to the innovation. And the drag queens themselves multiplied their registrations to such an extent that years ago now a shortlisting event has had to be held to choose the finalists for the grand gala.

In addition, since its inception, this Gala has featured performers of the stature of RuPaul, La Bouche, Bonnie Tyler, Tina Charles, Gloria Gaynor, Grace Jones, Sister Sledge, Alaska, Monica Naranjo and Village People ... among many others. Their presence has underlined the international impact of a Gala that started as a daring joke and ended up becoming a worldwide Trending Topic. The Carnival offers full freedom for transgression. And for the integration of everyone into the party. Today, the Drag Queens are mass idols in the festivities, and even the youngest of us chase after a selfie with these shining stars of the 21st Century Carnival.

This year, the shortlisting will take place on Saturday 22 February, and on Monday 24, the Drag Queen Gala. Both events are ticketed (purchasable on or at the box office of Santa Catalina Park), but tickets usually sell out swiftly. The final, however, is broadcast worldwide by RTVE, on the website of Televisión Canaria and on the organisations’ social profiles (@lpacarnival). All the same, this spirit of transgression is always juxtaposed at a right angle to the whole carnival programme: it’s enough simply to take part in the Daytime Carnival or the Carnival nights. 

Drag Queen Gala
Monday, 24 February 2020
21.00 hrs. Santa Catalina Park
Tickets: sold out
After that, Carnival Night in the surroundings of Santa Catalina