“Oxford Street, the atmosphere here isn’t the same as it used to be that’s for sure. You’d walk the streets in the old days, and you’d run into people you knew. The whole street had this community feel about it, you didn’t need to be in a venue to have a good time, but now even before COVID it’s starting to get really quiet.” Charisma Belle tells Star Observer.

For more than a hot minute now Charisma has been a regular fixture at Oxford Street’s Universal Bar, entertaining punters with her on stage finery. Speaking about her favourite nights at the venue, it is one with the drag community at it heart which immediately springs to the performers mind.

“On a Wednesday night we run Slay 4 Pay, which has been running for years now. All those competitions are quite crazy, they’ve helped bring in a new crowd of drag performers, and the grand finals are always crazy and wild.

“But really, I always ask for crazy things and where other venues would be scared or say no straight away, Universal will pretty much make anything we ask for happen.” Charisma adds with a chuckle.

“There is an element when you are in a room with people, drag is so spontaneous you know. You just can’t replace the feeling that live entertainment gives you. Being there in the moment is a lot different to watching something online.”

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 The point that Charisma makes is an important one, and one that Universal licensee Dillon Shaw is as keen to drive home.

“Around us there are so many little theatres and venues closing down that are such an important part of Sydney.

“I really worry about the culture changing, I feel like if we don’t invest more money and time into thinking outside of the box we could become a really bland city.”

Dillon’s background is a little different to Charisma, having been with the venue for six years. Dillon previously worked for The Oxford Hotel and helped run day parties for a number of years.

“I’ve always worked in night life, that’s my thing.

“Our I Remember House parties, have always been such a great community event. It’s such a beautiful inclusive crowd, a great cross section of the people coming together and really enjoying the music and the party atmosphere.”

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 Recently launched at Universal was Premiere. Billed as‘a night filled with booze, food, drag and entertainment’ featuring ‘performances from some of the city’s most seasoned drag queens.’

“We came up with the idea upstairs of doing drag and dine, it’s an immersive experience with three courses and a show. It’s in the nightclub that would normally hold 800 people, but we’ve only got 80 up there.”

Dillon pauses for a second, the concludes by saying, “Right now, it is so important to give people a reason to celebrate, to come out and feel comfortable but also to get all our beautiful entertainers on stage again.”

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