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See Taylor Swift Drag in Royal Oak, Watch a Roller Derby Match, Meet Dana Nessel at a Queer Adult Cabaret

Sarah Bricker Hunt

What will the rest of your rapidly evaporating 2023 feature? Don’t sit out the last few weeks of the year — make it worthwhile with a slate of queer events exciting enough to pry you from your cozy home. See “Drag Race” star Jade Jolie perform as Taylor Swift, cheer on roller derby champs as they duke it out in the round, spend an evening at a queer storytelling event, get “messsy” at a hard-to-describe futuristic event at Menjo’s or find out what happens when the Out Loud Chorus members let down their hair for a good cause.

1. Shake It Off with Some Taylor Swift Drag

Taylor Swift may have been the most popular Halloween costume in 2023, but no one does Taylor better than, well, Taylor, but also the super perky “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Dragula” star Jade Jolie. The drag artist made headlines when she performed alongside Swift herself at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, where presenter John Travolta confused her for Swift and tried to hand her the Video of the Year Award. 

Snatch your ticket now for the sure-to-sell-out Drag-tastic Blow Out at Five15 in Royal Oak, set for Nov. 19. Jolie will join the club’s house cast for the event, where you can enjoy cocktails and a special show menu while taking in all the fabulous spectacle and delight. VIP upgrade tickets include a meet-and-greet and preferred seating. 

Nov. 19, 2 p.m., Five15 (600 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak). Tickets at bit.ly/4651Ogo.


2. Get into Roller Derby

If you’ve yet to experience the roller-coaster level of excitement of roller derby, you’re definitely missing out, so don’t miss your chance to jump into the busy fall season. You’ll find teams throughout Michigan, including the Lansing Roller Derby, which will host its annual Black ’n’ Blue tournament Nov. 24-26 at the Ingham County Fairgrounds. Participants are from all over Michigan, including women’s, all-gender and junior teams. 

Interested in becoming a roller derby champ yourself? The tournament will have elite roller derby coaches on hand to lead curious fans through a clinic. “Skaters from Michigan and the surrounding area flock to Lansing every year to celebrate Thanksgiving with their derby family,” Lansing Roller Derby junior liaison Sarah Reimann tells Pride Source. “It’s always a great time to watch so many levels of derby from junior skaters to the all-star skaters from the state trying out for Team Michigan.”

Nov. 24-26, Ingham County Fairgrounds (700 E. Ash St., Mason). Tickets at ticketstripe.com/blacknblue2023spectators.

3. Join a Trans-Led Storytelling Circle

Equality Chelsea, a newer LGBTQ-focused local nonprofit, and Serendipity Books will host a Queer Storyslam storytelling event on Nov. 14 at Chelsea First United Methodist Church. Find out why good storytelling is truly an art from trans musician Joanna Whaley, who has won several story slams sponsored by the famed NYC Moth competition. Whaley will join a select group of guests sharing wide ranging narratives. "Queer Storyslam is a storytelling evening that intends to foster empathy and build our community of LGBTQ+ and allies in Chelsea and surrounding areas in Washtenaw County," Equality Chelsea administrator Kate Mehuron tells Pride Source." The event is free, but advance registration is required.

Nov. 14, 7 p.m., Chelsea First United Methodist Church (128 Park St., Chelsea). Register at bit.ly/49lzYze.

4. Get ‘Messsy’

Be the friend with the mysterious invite. It might go something like this: “Hey, so I have tickets to this art show — no, no, don’t wander off, it’s more than an art show. They’re going to have artifacts from the future of queer nightlife! And dancing and tech and deep discussion about things like our collective utopian desires!” Invites like this are how you find your people — the ones who will happily accompany you to “MESSSY - A Night of Queer Nightlife History and Futures in Detroit,” presented by Queer Futures Collective as part of its Orfelia project.

Press materials for the Nov. 18 event at Menjo’s read, “Step off the sidewalk and enter a night in 2053 at the Orfelia. Run your hands along the algae bioreactor, or fondle a genetically engineered slug designed for DIY hormone treatment. Maybe try your hand at robot fighting with Robot Riot. MESSSY is an art show, a dance floor, and a gloopyhole into the future of queer nightlife (and the world around it). The Orfelia is a fictional venue where we envision our preferred future, set in 2053 that ecstatically envisions the sloppy, utopian, and queer future. Dress for your utopia.”

Nov. 18, 9 p.m., Menjo’s (928 W. McNicholas St., Detroit). Reserve your space in the algae bioreactor at ra.co/events/1781520.

5. Meet Dana Nessel at a Queer Adult Cabaret

The annual Out Loud Chorus (OLC) cabaret fundraiser is one of the hottest tickets in town, so grab yours while they’re still available. The adult LGBTQ+ experience includes an open bar, good eats, exciting performances and an extensive silent auction. "This is such an exhilarating, adult performance that has members of the Out Loud Chorus letting their hair down while raising money to spread the choir's message on a worldwide stage," OLC board member Tim Hamann tells Pride Source.

VIP tickets for Nov. 10 event at Ypsilanti Freighthouse include early entrance, an exclusive performance and the chance to meet queer Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, emcee Dayne G., OLC artistic director Saleel Menon and the performers. Funds will support the Washtenaw County-based LGBTQ+ chorus’s community programming and its participation in the GALA Choruses quadrennial LGBTQ+ choral festival. 

Nov. 10, 7 p.m., Ypsilanti Freighthouse (100 Market Place, Ypsilanti). Reserve tickets at olconline.org/cabaret.

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