DragCon UK: RuPaul fans left disappointed by ‘huge’ queues

Queue at DragCon Image copyright Getty Images

Organisers of RuPaul’s first-ever DragCon UK have apologised to fans who were unable to get into Olympia London due to huge queues.

The event is an opportunity for fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race to meet stars of the reality TV show.

Some ticket holders reported queuing for hours on Saturday, only to be told by security staff that they would not be allowed inside the venue.

Organisers tweeted to say queues were slowed due to health and safety fears.

Ticket holders were invited to return on Sunday but some, who had travelled from other parts of the UK, had to go home.

“Health and Safety officers had advised us to temporarily halt the queue entrances today for an hour due to clogging of the aisles and from there on out – we got everyone in as fast as possible under health and safety’s watch,” organisers said in an official statement.

“We have met with the venue, security and health and safety for tomorrow’s event and are confident that the same issues won’t arise. Thank you and we appreciate you.

“If you can’t make tomorrow, refunds will be honoured.”

‘I booked days off work to come’

Beautician Nel Byars, 26, travelled to from Wrexham to London with her sister and three children under the age of 12 to attend the first day of the two-day event.

They arrived at 11am and queued until 2:40pm before giving up. Nel estimates she and her sister spent several hundred pounds on the failed family outing including tickets and travel.

“They were all really upset because they were so excited to come here and experience it, so there were a few tears,” she tells Radio 1 Newsbeat,

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Once inside, fans could queue to meet Drag Race stars like Bob The Drag Queen and Monet X Change

She says that after nearly two hours of queuing outside the venue, they were told their tickets would be valid for the Sunday of the event or to continue waiting while door staff operated an almost one-in, one-out system.

Videos on Twitter show security staff telling ticket holders yesterday that they may not get inside DragCon because of this door policy.

“For us, that wasn’t an option. We were going back the same day,” Nel says – adding that she’d hope for some compensation from the organisers for her travel for the day.

“I had to book days off work to come up. We’ve been waiting for months.”

Nicole Jones, 21, tells Newsbeat she started queuing outside Olympia London at 8:30am and got inside two hours later.

She says there was a better mood inside the venue than there was outside, where some fans were chanting for refunds.

This was first UK-based DragCon event, which has been held in Los Angeles since 2015 and in New York since 2017.

The conference-type events allow fans to see performances from drag queens who have appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race, hear talks given by the show’s stars and meet contestants. These extra events sometimes require an additional fee, or purchase of merchandise, on top of the standard ticket price which starts at £40 per day.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Trinity Taylor and JujuBee are among the stars giving talks at DragCon UK

Another attendee, who didn’t want to be named, told Newsbeat that people waiting in the queues were “incredibly patient and tolerant” because of RuPaul’s “really loyal fan base.”

He started queuing outside the venue at 10am and left, without getting inside, at 2pm and believes organisers may have underestimated how popular the event was going to be.

He’d travelled down from Manchester with friends and with the cost of tickets, travel and a hotel, reckons he spent around £400 on the weekend.

One Twitter used shared past screenshots from RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, where RuPaul commented on British people’s love of queues.

And others were surprised that the problems had happened.

Early arrivals at the second day of the event posted photos showing quiet scenes inside Olympia London during the morning, and others said that the queue on Sunday morning was moving faster than it had on Saturday.

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