7 mins


As we gear up for Dublin Pride, performers across Ireland are putting their finishing touches on their sets. This year, the theme is ‘Shine’, so Sarah McKenna Barry caught up with a number of artists to determine what makes a Pride performance pop.

Regina George

Regina George, a mainstay of the Dublin drag scene, is renowned for her dancing skills, so it’s unsurprising that the first time she performed at Pride, she was a backing dancer.

“My first Pride was in 2006, in a small space outside the Dublin Civic Offices,” she shares. “I was actually a backing dancer for, believe it or not, Annie Balls and I was joined by a fresh-faced Paul Ryder. The next Pride, I was in drag for the first time.”

With a solid grounding in dance – she trained in everything from Irish to ballroom to hip-hop – Regina was in comfortable territory when she started performing in drag.

“I’ve been dancing since I was a kid, so I kind of had the performance side of drag down,” she says. “I was competing in competitions in Ireland and Europe and drag kind of came naturally. I stayed in dancing until I was 22. At that stage, I had been doing drag for three years. I couldn’t really manage both, so I chose drag full time.”

Throughout her career, Regina feels that her performance mantra has changed. “Everyone you meet on the scene teaches you something different – it’s been unreal – but the biggest thing that’s changed is my outlook on performance. It’s gone from ‘I want to do this solo’ to ‘I want to put on the best show for the audience.’”

Over the years, Regina has noted a marked increase in hatred hurled at the LGBTQ+ community, and this is something she’ll keep in mind during Dublin Pride. “I’m the oldest of two gay younger brothers. It’s such a shame to see so much hatred when I felt we were in a really good place when I came out and I had the chance to become who I was freely. There’s no place for violence or abuse at our table. We just need to be closer as a community and fight together. I know it’s easier said than done, but we can do it.

“You have to be proud going out there,” she says. “The theme is ‘Shine’, so we have to go out and shine. It’s such a fabulous feeling to be on that stage.”

Regina’s show, ‘Regina and the Queens’, will be live on the Dublin Pride Village Main Stage on June 29, and you can also catch her at this year’s Electric Picnic.


When SexyTadhg sang at their first-ever Pride event – Carlow Pride – they prepared themselves to put on the show of their lifetime for the 3,000 strong crowd. However, the weather had different plans and as the heavens opened and SexyTadhg took to the stage, the audience dissipated to about 50 people.

“I still gave the best show I could and I still had a lot of fun,” SexyTadhg tells me. “I was so ready to have my star moment in front of thousands of people, but I still had my star moment because getting to perform at the first-ever Carlow Pride was such an honour.”

Since then, SexyTadhg has become much more comfortable on stage, and their performances have changed as a result.

“My style of performance is funnier now because I’m more comfortable on stage. I think back then, I was taking myself very seriously. There were more cover songs in the set as well because I hadn’t written as many original works. I’ve just gotten camper and camper as time goes on. The music is much better now, it’s all brass, it’s better arranged and it just runs a lot better now too. And I just keep referencing the things I enjoy. As my palette grows and my own experience grows, my own performance grows as well.”

As they prepare to bring that distinctive brassy on-stage persona to the Mother Pride Block Party, SexyTadhg is intent on paying homage to the queer trailblazers and club kids that have paved the way.

“You have to think about the audience and what they want from you,” says SexyTadhg. “It’s a day of joy, it’s a day of happiness and you have to reference the artists that came before you. You want to reference house music, Honey Dijon, you want to reference pop and glam and you want to bring all those things together, but you also have to be you. You want to honour what’s come before you and also have your own perspective.”

Beyond Pride, SexyTadgh is manifesting their dream gig – supporting Chappell Roan. “My list of good things to say about Chappell Roan is unending. I said to my managers, I’m supporting Chappell Roan in September. I’m going to. We’re not taking no for an answer. I’m doing that Kris Jenner thing of ‘If you say no to me, you’re talking to the wrong person.’”

You can catch SexyTadhg at the Mother Pride Block Party.

Aoife McElwainSing Along Social

If you’ve never been to Sing Along Social, Aoife McElwain has one image that best captures one of their gigs.

“Imagine being in a kitchen at three in the morning with your best friends and you’re singing ‘Unwritten’ by Natasha Bedingfield. That’s the magic we’re trying to recreate.”

More directly, Sing Along Social is a “singing party for people who can’t sing”.

“It’s like group karaoke, but with no microphones and no putting anybody on the spot. If you’ve ever been told to be quiet during a choir performance in school, this is your choir.

“Sing Along Social is hosted by the Craic Mechanics, a group of female-identifying craic experts. Our aim is to give people permission to be silly and our medium is cheesy pop music.”

Unsurprisingly, Pride is the ideal venue for Sing Along Social.

“Freedom of expression is at the core of what we do,” Aoife says. “We express ourselves through cringe. We are cringe, but we’re free – that’s one of our mottos.”

Aoife is aware that celebrating silliness can feel a little complicated when there’s so much oppression – in Palestine, in Sudan, and all over the world – but allowing ourselves space for celebrating and community is still important.

“Pride can create a space for connection between you and your community to come together and feel safe, connected, loved and united in our shared experience,” she says. “It’s also just so beautiful to have a bit of craic.”

Aoife knows firsthand how vital it is to create the kind of community we see at Pride. “I came out as queer during the pandemic. I had nowhere else to run so I finally accepted a part of myself that I had been afraid of for a long time. It’s really interesting for me to look back on Prides where I was an ally, to a Pride where I was fully out, and what a huge difference being at Pride all those years made for me on that journey. When we see ourselves represented, it can make it easier to accept living our full authentic lives as our true selves.”

You can catch Sing Along Social at the Mother Pride Block Party.

Ernest AlilovicDublin Gay Men’s Chorus

When Covid-19 restrictions were lifted a number of years ago, Ernest Alilovic was in need of a creative outlet that would allow him to connect with the LGBTQ+ community, and he found that in the Dublin Gay Men’s Chorus.

“Once life was settling back into normality after the pandemic, I found myself craving real social connections,” says Ernest, who originally hails from Ljubljana, Slovenia. “I also wanted to surround myself with other creative queer people as a way of creating a sense of belonging and pride. So in January 2022, I saw the Dublin Gay Men’s Chorus was holding auditions for new singers. I thought that fit the bill perfectly. I was delighted when I passed the audition and I never looked back!”

Since joining the choir, Ernest has learned a thing or two about what makes a great Pride performance. “I believe that if the performers on stage are genuinely enjoying themselves, then so will the audience,” Ernest says. “But I also think a great Pride performance should inspire a sense of pride in belonging to a community and living your life truthfully.”

Ernest and the Dublin Gay Men’s Chorus plan to foster those exact feelings when they take to Dublin Pride this year. “We’ve prepared an uplifting repertoire of show tunes, classics and pop anthems that celebrate love in all forms. Music has the power to connect people on a profound level. We want to harness that power to create a space for community and acceptance.”

The Dublin Gay Men’s Chorus will be performing in the Dublin Pride Parade and on the Main Stage at the Pride Village.

You can also catch them performing with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra for SHINE, which celebrates 50 years of Pride in Dublin, at the National Concert Hall on June 20. They’ll also be performing at St. Andrew’s Church on June 23.

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