The stage was set with glittery streamers and the speakers had just finished thudding with Whitney Houston when Yin Yang Night Club’s host for the night, drag queen Muffie Beaverhausen, announced the final performer.
It was Veronika Versace, local drag queen and show director at the nightclub, who emerged and began performing Cher’s “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.”
Instead of the crowds of hundreds that these performers are used to, the club around them was empty. Their audience was online, watching the final curtain call ever for Yin Yang Night Club through Facebook Live.
After almost five years of celebrating mid-Missouri’s drag community, the club announced Tuesday via its Facebook page that the venue was shutting for good because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The club originally opened May 28, 2015, and was known for hosting drag shows and providing a gathering space for both the local drag and the larger LGBTQ community. According to Versace, the night club was home to 30 local entertainers with many more special guests coming from all over Missouri.
Versace, who began performing drag right before Yin Yang opened, originally intended the livestream to be a smaller virtual show for entertainment during quarantine, but plans changed when the closing was announced.
“I couldn’t with good conscience not extend an invitation to whoever I could to let them come and have their moment to say goodbye,” Versace said.
Drag queen and longtime Yin Yang performer Amanda Lay also performed Friday night and said that the support shown for the club’s performers during the livestream was “humbling.” By her estimation, there were around 400 viewers and over 6,000 views of the club’s final performance, which was streamed on Facebook Live.
Lay, a self-proclaimed “lifer” when it comes to drag, has been entertaining at Yin Yang since it opened its doors in 2015 and describes the community there as “family,” which Versace echoed.
Streaming didn’t disrupt the usual bumps that a live show brings, including a late start time, a few technical errors and even a visit from police to ensure that everyone was following social distancing rules. Despite the missteps, “we were all happy to have our chance to say goodbye,” Versace said.
Although the club may have closed its doors, its performers are far from taking their final bow. Lay has continued to livestream single performances to support various funds and hopes to continue performing in person after the social distancing ban is lifted.
“I want my community, my girls, my team, my entertainers to have a venue,” Lay said, “because we deserve one.”
Versace also expressed the desire for new performance venues.
“This community has a need for drag and LGBTQ safe spaces here,” Versace said. “I am working on collaborating with other businesses in town to find us the right fit once bars begin to open back up, but ultimately my personal goal is that by next spring we have a permanent home for drag in Columbia.”
Overall, Versace said it was a pleasure to entertain and perform for Columbia while Yin Yang was open.
“We are a close community, and though it is sad right now, our memories are what keeps us strong, and we will find a new home someday,” Versace said. “Every entertainer here is eager to be back onstage to perform for all of our fans.”