90s Drag and Club Culture Lives With Us Today

Sponsored by Melissa Page

Picture it. New York City, 1993. The summer is hot and the radio is even hotter. Music videos are shaping the culture in new ways thanks to MTV. The underground scene is cat walking into mainstream success and three words are on the tongue of everyone’s lips: YOU BETTER WORK.

Now I will admit, in 1993 I was only one year old and I am almost certain that the only words on my lips were “Mama” and “Papa”, but stay with me here. What the legendary RuPaul did with her hit record — Supermodel (You Better Work) stands true to what queer folk have done since the beginning of time: Shake up the room.

 My friend  Raisa Thomas

My friend Raisa Thomas

When I think of the club and drag scene in NYC I instantly think of those nights in which my mother, aunts, and cousins would get ready together for a night on the town, sipping pregame cocktails and setting the mood with super dope mixtapes. When they would leave, my cousin and I would go through their wardrobes and have our own at-home fashion showdown. These are my earliest memories of being queer. Those looks are still vivid in my mind till this day. In those days, fashion was, in my opinion, more iconic because there was so much nerve behind the looks.

One can not speak of the history of NYC clubbing in the 90s without mentioning house music and the village. In these times, people from all backgrounds and lifestyles got together to get fly and dance their troubles away. Nothing else mattered.


The club kids were the real game changers of these times. As I got into the club scene myself, I actually had the chance to meet some of the legends including the iconic Ms. Amanda Lepore. It was in these times that I came to understand the true queer aesthetic. It was actually a simple one in theory: there were no rules. A quick search of 90s club kids fashion will feel nostalgic, present, and futuristic all in the same breath. To me, that’s the core of being queer. Paying homage to the legends, drawing inspiration and creating from unique aspects of life, and leaving a legacy that transcends space and time.

 Credit: Ryan Pfluger for The New York Times

Credit: Ryan Pfluger for The New York Times


Queer culture has and continues to inspire many like myself to WORK. When i say work i don’t mean in the 9-5 sense, I mean in the “use what you have to make it work” sense. Majority of everything I do and create is DIY as i have not always had the access or finance, but my queer spirit has made it possible to jump over those hurdles as well as the many other obstacles designed to keep people like me down, closeted, and forgotten. Because of the work of the queer folk who came before me, the world is now waking up to the fact that we are here and are no longer choosing to be quiet about our existence. Everything from Black Lives Matter, which was started by queer women of color, to Bob the Drag Queen, who is an activist against injustice, is further proof of this fact.

 © Oggy Yordanov via  etalorsmagazine.com

© Oggy Yordanov via etalorsmagazine.com


Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent are the major judging factors on the popular show RuPaul’s drag race but are essentially the formula to us queer folk in a whole. These things are what sets us apart from society. These things are the reason why we walk, talk, dress, undress, and inspire the way we do. Whether it's on your tv screen, or in magazines, your social media, and everything in between; Queer culture continues to be the gift that keeps on giving and I am forever thankful for the culture.

P.S. If you’re eager to share the nineties experience with the young ones, you can sell your old clothes online and we might just snatch them up!


About the Sponsor:

Melissa Page is a freelance writer, aspiring entrepreneur and absolute cat lover. When she’s not writing about fashion and lifestyle, she’s dreaming about her next big move. You can follow her on Twitter at @MelissaPage90.