Identity

'Dancing Queen' Alyssa Edwards Shares Her Ultimate Guide to Etiquette

The famed drag star shares her guide to manners in advance of her new Netflix show's premiere and an appearance at DragCon on September 29.
September 27, 2018, 7:49pm
Photo by Jake Giles Netter / Netflix.

On Saturday, September 29 drag icon Alyssa Edwards will be hosting a panel at RuPaul’s DragCon to celebrate the October 5 premiere of her upcoming Netflix docu-series, Dancing Queen. While she’s hosted a DragCon Panel before, this will be her first docu-series of her very own.

The new show will be a behind-the-scenes look at her dance school in Mesquite, Texas, Beyond Belief Dance Company, which she has owned, operated, and taught dance teams and independent students at for 14 years—even before she started doing drag. In an interview with Broadly, Edwards describes the show as part Dance Moms, part Honey Boo Boo, and part RuPaul’s Drag Race. The live DragCon discussion about Dancing Queen, where she’ll be joined by stylist Brad Goreski, will be “a kiki within itself,” Edwards says.

“This series is gonna transcend anything I’ve ever hoped, dreamed and desired. It’s compelling, it’s artistic, it’s triumphant, it’s family-oriented,” Edwards says. “I hope you’ll enjoy it just as much as I’ve enjoyed doing it. I’m excited and anxious, but at the end of the day, I’m gonna be on my couch eating my popcorn and dill pickle. On October 5, I’m just gonna sit and giggle.” For her, shaping the youth of today and the future of tomorrow has been her greatest life accomplishment. Her biggest hope for the show? “Your passion is worth the struggle and sometimes the fight. Stand tall, be proud and never quit,” she says.

Edwards is best known as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, where her Snatch Game impersonation of Joan Crawford made RuPaul cackle and say, “Well, that don’t make no kind of sense, but it sure is entertaining.” Diehard fans also followed her hilarious web series, Alyssa’s Secret, where she’s given her top five dating tips and other advice.

To follow in this legacy of good taste, wisdom, and decorum, as well as celebrate the upcoming release of Dancing Queen, Alyssa is graciously serving us her guide to etiquette à la carte, whether you’re throwing a big party or an even bigger fit—and staying cute through it all. Behold: Alyssa Edwards’ Guide to Etiquette.


Make a Strong First Impression

"I live by this quote: 'It’s better to be a first-rate version of yourself rather than a second-rate version of someone else.' Every night at Beyond Belief, I meet another potential parent, family, or a new student and I have to present the very best of me. I’m my biggest fan and my own life coach, and I remind myself, You make it a great day or not—the choice is yours."

Gracefully Respond to Haters

"In life, it’s much harder to be the bigger person, and you’ve got to ask yourself, What is really important to me? I don’t look back, or entertain foolishness and robbery. Look, if you got people talking about you, then you’re probably doing your job. That means they’re invested and interested, but keep your eyes on the road ahead, because you are carving out the future, and life is too short and too precious. "

Tactfully Drag Loved Ones

"Be honest. If people don’t ask you for their opinion, you don’t have to share it, but if you are asked, be honest. There is a time and place. If you’re a real good Judy, like a really good friend, you pull your friend to the side—you don’t need an audience—and say, 'Homegirl, this is what went down, I think you were out of line, I love you for it, but maybe you could have handled it like this.' A good friend is not always a yes friend. A good friend is an honest and truthful friend who will look at you and go, 'Now girl, that doesn’t look right,' and know they have their best interests at heart."

Defuse Tense Situations With Kindness

"I grew up in a tense household. What I’ve told myself in my adult life is: Is what I’m going to say helpful or hurtful? Is it spiteful at the moment? Is it kind? I practice a pause. You practice the pause, and you ask yourself that and you answer yourself. You have the key—you have the power to control any situation you’re involved in. I’m not saying I’m getting older, but the more established I become, [the more] I’ve learned to pick and choose my battles and words. My actions. I control them. I hold that key."

Plan Tasteful Dance Parties

"I have lots of parties at my house. A good party has good music, decorations, colorful balloons, good food. Girl, bless the area before you have anybody come in it so it’s full of great positive energy!

I’ve learned with parties, don’t overdrink, if you’re the planner or the host. Don’t run out of ice and cups. Have all this stuff on hand and, baby, please don’t let the record skip, ’cause when the music stops, that’s a party foul. And I am the dancing queen! I want to throw my hands in the air, and I wanna have a ball.

We actually just planned a grand opening party for Dancing Queen and Mother Nature decided to create a plot twist. But I was prepared. We had everything covered. All the people at the [ Beyond Belief] studio, we’re all very down to earth, but we’re all very energetic characters, very charismatic personalities. I can tell you we could probably have a good ol’ time anywhere, but I planned this party to make sure the flowers had the right color, all the candies were Dancing Queen–wrapped."

Graciously Respond to Compliments

"Look that person in the eyes and say thank you, give them a hug, give them a high five. That was very hard for me to do as an adult. I would come back and say, Well, maybe. Accept the compliment. It’s OK.

I love to compliment people all the time; Today, I was at a fabric store and this girl had beautiful nails and I told her, 'That color is a home run. I see your nails from across the room.' I made her smile. That could have made her day, you don’t know what people are going through with their day-to-day life.

You know what else you can do? Compliment yourself."

Use Proper Table Manners

"Girl, I don’t do a whole lot of formal stuff in my life. What I can tell you is that I love to dine; I love a good Mexican cantina. If you don’t know what side the fork goes on, don’t let that bother you. People are there for your company. Enjoy the moment, live your best life, and eat some good food.

Be respectful. You gotta know you’re not at a bar, so, girl, have you two glasses of champagne, not six. I’m from the South, so we have that Southern debutante–ness, so remember to cross your legs, sit up straight, nice and clean posture, make eye contact with your guests or whoever you’re with. Laugh all night. Enjoy life. "

You Don’t Have to Fake It Until You Make It

"I’m gonna be the best version of me. If there’s something I don’t know, I’m not afraid to ask. At what point do I know I’ve made it? This was earned. This was the fruit of labor. On Dancing Queen, what you’re gonna see is exactly what went on. There was no faking it."

Get a Grip, Get a Life, and Get Over It

"I tell myself and my dancers [at Beyond Belief]: When you find yourself getting worked up—whether you made the company, whether you were disappointed, you didn’t get the raise you wanted, you didn’t get the place in the casting, maybe I didn’t get the weather I was planning [for the party]—you were alive, so be alive. Live in that moment. Get a grip, get a life, and get over it. We gotta flip the page."

Be a Great Dancer, Regardless of Your Dance Skills

Growing up as a little, introverted boy, dance was the only way I could communicate. For me, it’s the greatest language—no words. Sharing people’s stories through the art of movement is magical. A good dancer is not necessarily defined by great technique, skill, or ability to pick up choreography, but by confidence. When you feel the music, it penetrates to your soul. Everybody’s a dancer. The greatest dancer is someone who is willing to dance, not afraid.

Dancing changed my life. It gave me a platform to be confident with the young man I was struggling to become. This is what Dancing Queen is all about. It’s more than this docu-series; it’s truly my book of life. It’s a triumph, and it’s a hallmark. It’s a journey. I think what people see of me is this big, bold, true Texan drag performer tongue-popping and twirling and kicking, but when the makeup is shed, what lies there is a very passionate person that is living with a purpose.