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RuPaul’s first DragCon UK was a huge success over the weekend. Sort of.
It was a success in that it was hugely popular, coming fresh off the back of first series of RuPaul’s Drag Race on BBC last year. Many inside took to social media to share themselves having a great time.
Unfortunately, so many tickets were sold that the venue – the Olympia exhibition hall in Kensington (which can hold between 4,000-10,000 depending on how much of the venue is utilized) hit capacity very quickly on the first day. This left hundreds, if not thousands, stuck in queues outside. Some reported queuing with tickets for up to three hours, only to give up and… well, sashay away.
It didn’t help that temperatures in London hovered around 40-47F. And some had traveled from elsewhere in the country. With their kids. Cue some tears, anger and frustration on social media. The hashtag #RuFund briefly trended on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.
Inside was clearly packed.
— liv woodward (@livwoodward) January 18, 2020
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Outside, people were told they had to wait for entry.
— Amy Louise (@Amy2489) January 18, 2020
@RuPaul @RuPaulsDragCon So we’ve been told that nobody has been let in for 2 hours because the venue is at maximum capacity!! We’ve been told no refunds, doesn’t look like we’ll get let in today! ? Where’s our #RUfund ? #dragconuk
— Beth (@bethanjane22) January 18, 2020
— JOE (@JXEKER) January 18, 2020
?still queuing for #DragConUK
— Elliott Blake (@Poppalong_) January 18, 2020
On Facebook, one woman, Lynn Holley Shields, posted: “Travelled from Scotland early this morning with my granddaughter and friend. Weekend passes bought months ago. Waited hours in the Q!!!!! No chance of getting in today and two very upset teenagers. If I could get a refund for expensive train tickets and hotel I’d head home.”
Some took aim at RuPaul himself.
— Sam Pinner (@pinner_sam) January 18, 2020
On Drag Race UK, RuPaul had previously commented on how British people love to queue. One Twitter user was quick to highlight the irony.
— Lee Dawson (@LeeDawsonPT) January 18, 2020
RuPaul himself has not commented on the situation. However, the official RuPaul’s DragCon Facebook and Twitter accounts blamed health and safety regulations for the queues.
“Hey kitty girls, we know that some of you unfortunately had to queue outside the DragCon UK convention center,” it posted. “We apologize for the wait as Health and Safety required us to slow the flow of people coming in.
“If your ticket isn’t scanned and you would like to return, you are welcome to come tomorrow and we will honor your ticket. If you would like to reach out, you can find us at [email protected]. We are working to make sure you have the best weekend possible.”
One woman, Nel Byars, traveled from Wrexham to London (approximately 200 miles) with her sister and three children under the age of 12. They queued for over three hours before giving up.
“They were all really upset because they were so excited to come here and experience it, so there were a few tears,” she told the BBC. She said returning on Sunday was not an option for them.
From postings online, most of the disappointed fans who couldn’t return on Sunday were issued with refunds speedily.
Just contacted [email protected] and received confirmation of a refund within 5 minutes. So disappointed we didn’t get in but thankful I got my £200 back! The organisers have massively underestimated this event. Bad venue choice.
— Sarah Matano (@MatanoSarah) January 18, 2020
Here’s hoping that when the event next returns, it’s either at a bigger venue or they restrict the number of tickets they sell.