Carnival with Emily Salvia

During carnival 2020 I followed Luuk van de Ven, also known as Emily Salvia, a dragqueen from the south of the Netherlands, the province of Brabant. He makes it his mission to bring the drag scene to the south. “Most dragqueens leave to Amsterdam. That’s the place to be. Not much is going on here, I would like to change that.” Luuk says. He started his own drag family under the name Salvia. The first one to be founded in Brabant.

For him the family is a safe haven. Every week they come together, to talk, to practise, to support each other.

During this reportage I followed Luuk during his transformation to Emily Salvia and during her show together with great friend Liza Salvia (dragname of Sawinah Roctus). The performance is at a special place for Luuk. It’s in a small party centre in a small town called Son en Breugel right next to Eindhoven. It’s where Luuk grew up. His childhood is not considered easy. He got bullied, he was insecure and he struggled with his homosexuality and identity. He felt like there was no place to go to. “Nobody here spoke about this kind of topics.”

Performing at exactly this stage, at exactly this town makes him nervous, but also proud. He’s taking everything he worked for back to his roots. “I’m not sure people here have actually ever seen a dragshow before.” And although some people in the audience seem a bit shocked at first, everyone at the end seem to love the performance.