RIP Sink the Pink: How the LGBTQ Drag Club Defined an Era

The glitter-soaked collective are bowing out after 13 years. We spoke to Bimini Bon Boulash, Jade Thirwell and more about their unparalleled legacy.
A Sink the Pink performer c
All photos: Courtesy of Sink the Pink

On the 15th of April, era-defining LGBTQ club night Sink The Pink will bow out with a farewell ball at Printworks London – a cavernous venue once home to Western Europe's largest printing press.

In a way, there's a delicious irony to this turn of events. The place that used to spew out copies of the Daily Mail will be packed to the rafters with 5,000 people pissing all over their small-minded views: drag queens and club kids, queer folk and their allies, anyone who likes dressing up and dancing to trashy Y2K pop music.


When Sink The Pink announced their final party earlier this week, the collective's co-founder Glyn Fussell said: “We feel it’s the right time to hang up our heels and make way for a new generation of queer London to shine through.” He also noted, rather poignantly, that “no party can last forever”. Not even Sink the Pink, who drenched the club scene in glitter for over a decade. 

Sink The Pink is a grassroots success story. Way back in 2008, Fussell launched the brand alongside best mate Amy Zing. Their first club night had just 37 attendees.

They thought they'd keep the party going for five or six years, at a push – not 13. But Sink the Pink quickly ballooned into a bastion of British queer culture that pop stars were queuing up to collaborate with. In 2019, the collective teamed up with Spice Girls icon Melanie C for a global Pride tour that included shows in São Paulo, Stockholm and Amsterdam. And over the last 13 years, everyone from Little Mix to Samantha Mumba has headlined their events. 

Sink the Pink drag queens posing

“Sink The Pink was a cultural reset,” says Bimini Bon Boulash, who won the Miss Sink The Pink drag contest in 2019, two years before she became a huge breakout star on RuPaul's Drag Race UK


“I remember going to Sink The Pink and feeling like I finally found people that got me,” Bimini adds. “It was all about being as outrageous and ridiculous as possible and as a queer person moving to London, I longed for that sense of belonging. I owe a lot of my career to them after they welcomed me into the family.”

Little Mix's Jade Thirlwall says the first time she walked into a Sink The Pink night, she can remember thinking: ‘What is this magical wonderland?’ “They changed the face of LGBTQ events in London and paved the way for so many more inclusive nights across the UK,” says Thirlwall, one of countless queer allies who've felt at home there over the years. “I loved Sink The Pink straight away and I’ve been back so many times since.”

Thanks to the fragile, ever-evolving nature of club culture, even the most legendary club nights tend to have a relatively brief lifespan. And if you capture a moment the way Sink The Pink first did around a decade ago, you run the risk of getting tied to it. However, these dedicated party-starters managed to defy the law of diminishing returns by levelling up with bigger celebrity bookings and bolder ideas. 

“I've always felt like I'm on a big cruise liner carrying a boatload of queers towards their next adventure,” says Fussell. “Every time, it's like, 'How can we be more wild? How can we be more naughty?'”


In November, Sink The Pink bounced back after the pandemic by touring the UK with performance artist Amanda Lepore and DJ Jodie Harsh, who says the crowds they attracted were “totally wild”.

“After what we've been through over the past couple of years, Sink the Pink was a much needed tonic," Harsh adds. "The whole brand stands for equality, good times and celebrating who you are, so when you bring all that together on the dance floor, the vibe is really electric.”

Though Sink the Pink has grown into taking over large venues like Printworks and Manchester Academy, Fussell says its "spiritual home" will always be a much smaller space: Bethnal Green Working Men's Club in east London, which they first played in 2011. 

“Before then, it always felt like we were having to ask permission from venues, which really isn't what Sink The Pink is about,” Fussell recalls. “But once we got to Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, it was like we'd found our space. I have a pretty sick and twisted, over-the-top mind and they let us do whatever we wanted.”

Sink the Pink drag queens posed in Bethnal Green Men's Working Club

Fussell isn't exaggerating. At one BGWMC party, they flung a drag queen in a Zorb ball into the crowd; at another, unsuspecting audience members were showered with gone-off prawns, a moment that felt like “something out of a John Waters movie”. Sink The Pink could be anarchic and a little bit “performance art” during this period, but it was always fundamentally inclusive and fun at the same time.


“There was never that thing of ‘you don't look good enough’ or ‘you don't look polished enough’,” says Joan Oh, a Sink The Pink regular who went on to become the collective's choreographer. “If you came in wearing a wig that you'd found in the bin outside, Amy and Glyn would be like, ‘Oh my god, you're the most gorgeous drag queen we've ever seen!’” And that was so important because it made every different expression of drag acceptable and appreciated.”

Drag at its messy, anything-goes best is integral to the Sink The Pink experience, but Oh says it's always been a space where everyone can express themselves. "Early on, if you came as a punter not really knowing what it was all about, I can guarantee by the end of the night you'd end up wearing something from our dressing-up box," she says. In time, this evolved into the famous ‘Glitter My Shitter’ makeover area, a tongue-in-cheek encapsulation of Sink The Pink's unpretentious sense of fun. 

Fussell says that once Sink The Pink really hit their stride at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, they became “humongous” pretty quickly. By 2014, they were big enough to book Sophie Ellis-Bextor for a winter ball at the 3,000-capacity Troxy. “I never wanted us to stay niche or underground – I wanted the world to see us," he says. "I think that's because up until we were 26 or 27, Amy and I felt very lost and like we didn't fit in. And so once we found our moment, you couldn't stop us running with it.”

A Sink the Pink drag queen performing at the Troxy to a crowd

Ever since Sink The Pink exploded in this way, their parties have been a rite of passage for any queer kid arriving in London. You had to dress up for Sink The Pink at least once – just as you had to have at least one night in Heaven. Fussell says they’ve taken pride in providing a space for anyone with “weird, alternative energy” who “hasn't quite found who they are yet”.

Pop artist and Sink The Pink performer Le Fil says their nights have been a “queer haven” for him over the years. “There are very few stages where we as queer performers are given the opportunity to shine like this,” he says. “I'll always remember performing ‘Say You'll Be There’ in Times Square with Melanie C and thinking, ‘Wow… Sink The Pink brought me here.’”

RuPaul's Drag Race UK contestant Asttina Mandella, who won Miss Sink The Pink in 2017, believes being part of the collective has “massively” helped her career. “They have been my rock and I wouldn’t be where I am today or have got onto Drag Race if it wasn’t for them,” she says.

Given that Sink The Pink are still big, beloved and relevant, why are they saying goodbye now? Fussell admits he and Zing “really wrestled with the decision,” especially because their events have “changed the lives” of so many LGBTQ creatives and performers, but says they've always been wary of potentially outstaying their welcome.

“When I look at iconic club nights from the past, many of them fell off the face of the earth or just kind of fizzled out,” he says. “I find that really sad, so I've always said that Sink The Pink will go out one way only: with an almighty bang. And that's what we're doing.”

He also believes Sink The Pink has played its part in nurturing, elevating and spotlighting queer culture. “When we started out, we were inspired by nights like Jonny Woo, John Sizzle and Ma Butcher's Gay Bingo – our culture and history has always been passed down from one generation to the next,” he says. “So now I feel like it's time for us to hand all of that forward and say: 'Right, you've got this now.'"

There's no doubt Sink The Pink have shown the next gen of clubbing disruptors how to do it – with fun, love and a lot of biodegradable glitter