11 years after turning heads by converting an old fish factory in Hout Bay into one of the hottest weekend spots in Cape Town, and raking in numerous awards along the way, Bay Harbour Market is once again breaking ground in the realms of entertainment. Who would of anticipated the introduction of feather boas and diamante stilettos in the line-up of live family entertainment would draw crowds from all over the city and lift the roof in sing-along tunes and dance! Has drag gone mainstream in the Mothercity?

Since the introduction of a Drag Show in October 2021 at Bay Harbour Market, local stars Kat Gilardi and Manila von Teez have been entertaining the crowds with their catchy roster of sing-along classic tunes – and with a full house every time they perform, the energy is palpable! With a focus on fun festivities that the whole family can enjoy, Drag in the Bay is set to open the channels for a whole new generation of drag enthusiasts and make it mainstream in the entertainment industry.

“During a brainstorming session with our traders in the middle of the pandemic, it was suggested that Bay Harbour Market should lead the way in being inclusive when it comes to representing talent and entertainment in Cape Town” says Lyn Mance, Bay Harbour Market stakeholder and head of marketing. “So we got to work on revising our entertainment lineup – and as a space and stage that wholeheartedly loves and supports the arts and entertainment, it was a no-brainer that drag should be included in the line-up.”

Though the pandemic pressed pause on gigs, as of 2021, drag cabaret stars Kat and Manila have found themselves in high demand. “I’m not sure if it’s thanks to the pandemic, but we can clearly see that the art of drag is becoming more accepted,” explains Manila. “We have more performers and the audiences are more engaging, with venues being more open to us being there.”

For Kat and Manila, performing for the community of Hout Bay has been a game-changer. “Being able to perform at the Bay Harbour Market has been huge,” says Manila. “It’s spaces like these that allow us to show our art to all of South Africa and hopefully draw new followers.” Kat couldn’t agree more. “It’s been amazing to educate a community that may not have been familiar with what we do and people who wouldn’t necessarily come out to the venues for a drag show.”

And audiences at the market have welcomed the duo with open arms. “The crowd that comes to watch Kat and Manila are so diverse; everyone seems to have a soft spot for our fabulous performers,” says Lyn. “The girls are fabulous and the vibe is electric.” One regular, David Thomas, had this to say about the first show: “What an amazing night with the two drag queens. The market was rocking, so well supported. I hope they will become a regular feature!” And he was just one of many, so the market took their advice, and now offer a drag show every three months.

“Even though we’re professionals, we still get nervous,” laughs Kat. “But, the appreciation we’ve received from the crowds at Bay Harbour Market has been so worth it. Now, we even have our regular patrons.”

Manila adds, “We know drag has been around for many years as a form of activism, but seeing people just accept and love us for who we are, with no judgment, is a dream for many of us.”

Kat and Manila have undoubtedly left their mark on Hout Bay, and now they have an assortment of new fans – young and old. “Watching families dance together, parents bringing their children to enjoy us and dancing along, it is amazing,” says Manila. “We had a couple who saw us for the first time at Bay Harbour Market, and now they attend every single show of ours – at the market and other venues.”

The entire experience has been an eye-opening one for Bay Harbour Market. “It shows how important it is to change up our offerings in unexpected ways, and how that may appeal to a slightly different customer base as well as our current one,” says Lyn. “It gave the market an opportunity to showcase what it offers to a new audience while pleasantly surprising its existing one.”

If you haven’t been to a show yet, you are missing out. It’s here, not in the US, where you’ll find the most talented drag entertainers. “You can expect lots of fun, energy and nostalgia,” adds Kat. “So, come out and have the biggest sing-along of your life.” What are you waiting for? Bring the entire family for a fun night with Kat and Manila at the Bay!

Catch Kat Gilardi and Manila von Teez on the stage at Bay Harbour Market again this August. Bay Harbour Market is open every Friday between 17:00 – 21:00, and every Saturday to Sunday from 09:30 to 16:00.

For more information about the traders and what they have to offer, please do visit Bay Harbour Market at https://bayharbour.co.za/ and follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bayharbour, Twitter at https://twitter.com/bayharbourmktt   and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/bayharbourmarket/