Creating a Place for 'Nclusion' in Columbia
When the LGBTQ community found itself in need of a new drag show venue, Anthony Plogger and his friends rose to the occasion.
Yin Yang, a popular nightclub and drag show venue in Columbia had closed in April. Anthony Plogger, a former customer, says it left a hole in the local LGBTQ community.
“It was like a blow to the gut really, because I was there pretty much every Thursday and Saturday for the drag shows that they had there," he said.
Yin Yang was where drag queen Honey D’Moore got her start.
“When I moved to Colombia five years ago, Yin Yang was kind of like my second home pretty much," said D'Moore. "They were the very first stage to give me the actual opportunity to perform in a competition. And I will always say that Yin Yang is going to be my starting point of my drag career.”
To make up for the loss of Yin Yang, Plogger and his friends started putting on their own virtual drag shows.
“When we first did it, the idea was that we would just have drag shows with our drag friends, like you know, originally it was the virtual shows, so, it was the seven of us and four performers every week at this little office space," said Plogger. "And they threw a show, and in a way it felt like it was us, but we caught such a big following. I mean, our first two shows we had over 15,000 views, each. Whenever we saw that we're like, this could really be something.”
Less than a month after Yin Yang closed, Nclusion Plus was born. Plogger is now the director of club content. But starting a business during a pandemic isn't easy.
“We started with virtual shows and we stream our shows that people can't come in to see," he said. "We are very strict with the COVID, the city says we're doing better than most places. So, you know everyone's six feet apart. We check temperatures, everyone must wear a mask.
"We have to wear the face shield," said D'Moore. "Unless we are going to be six feet or more away from the crowd. It's really nice to actually see people see smiling faces and see them cheering and drinking. “
Thursday, October 8, was the club's first show, at the Atrium on 10th Street.
One customer, David Hall, says he appreciates their commitment to safety. “And it's just it's great," he said. "So, it's because it's big enough to be spaced out like to be socially distance and to be safe for everybody.”
Danielle Komo, a drag performer and customer, says Nclusion Plus is welcoming.
“And this place, you know, everyone knows you," said Komo. "It's very friendly. You don't got to worry about anything. So, I like it."
But Plogger says Nclusion Plus isn't just about the performances. The organizers want to advocate for LGBTQ mental health and education.
“Since we've started Nclusion Plus, we have partnered with Burrell Health and we are also partnered or working with The Center Project and also getting in working with all three colleges here in town," said Plogger.
“And they want to be part of the community and they're doing a fantabulous job," said D'Moore. "You know we have a few other events that's coming up in the in the future that is going to be donating to some charities.”
“These performers are here to entertain and be here for the community and that’s why we do this," said Plogger. "We're here for the community itself.”