Blu Hydrangea opens up about challenging Ireland's perception of drag on Dancing With The Stars

The Belfast performer has emerged as a frontrunner on this season of Dancing With The Stars Ireland, and spoke to GCN about the experience so far.

Dancing With The Stars Ireland duo Blu Hydrangea and Simone Arena. The pair are photographed from the chest up, wearing black sparkly outfits and posing in front of a black sparkly background.
Image: @bluhydrangea_ via Instagram

For a queen whose childhood growing up queer in Belfast was “painted out” for them in “black and white,” Blu Hydrangea has been painting the Dancing With The Stars Ireland (DWTS) stage rainbow over the last few weeks. 

Blu, who rose to fame when they joined the cast of the first-ever season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK in 2019, truly won fans over when they returned to snatch the crown on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs The World in 2022. 

Now, less than two years after the Irish drag legend joined the illustrious ‘Drag Race Hall of Fame’, Blu Hydrangea has reentered the reality television circuit as one of the celebrity contestants on Dancing With The Stars Ireland

The latest series of the celebrity dancing competition show, which kicked off in January 2024, has seen Blu take to the stage, accompanied by professional dancer and former Dancing With The Stars Belgium winner, Simone Arena, performing dance styles such as the Tango, Salsa, and Paso Doble to name a few. 



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At the end of the competition’s sixth week, Blu and Arena have accumulated an impressive 143 points from the judging panel, a score superseded by only one other couple on the show’s cast, David Whelan and Salome Chachua, who’ve accrued 150 points over six performances. 

Speaking with GCN, Blu opened up about their Dancing With The Stars Ireland journey thus far, as well as elaborating on how their dual Drag Race runs prepared them for the competition. 

“Whenever you’re about to go on stage in front of RuPaul, you’re kind of gearing yourself up. It’s the same amount of nerves as whenever you’re about to step out onto the ballroom floor,” said Blu. 

“But there’s something just slightly different about (DWTS) in that it’s not in my comfort zone…It’s not drag, so I don’t really feel as comfortable in it as whenever I’m just doing, like, a drag thing on Drag Race.

“So this has been very, very different. I would say harder than Drag Race for sure. For me,” they continued. 



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Despite winning Drag Race UK vs The World, a competition that required Hydrangea to participate in a number of choreographed dance challenges, the queen never considered themself much of a dancer before joining the DWTS cast. 

“I’ve never danced in my life,” shared Blu. “I remember as a kid, I was like: ‘I want to do ballet,’ or, ‘I want to dance.’ But my parents were like: ‘No, you’re going to play football.’ Which absolutely did me no use in my life. 

“I remember, I watched a home video of me, and it’s all these other kids playing football and I’m in the corner eating daffodils. Like, I had no interest. I would rather eat flowers than play football.”

Even as Blu started doing drag, however, they said they’d never felt fully comfortable in their dancing ability.

“Even on Drag Race, whenever I’m performing, I always find that I’d have a gimmick like puppets or reveals or comedy or something to hide the fact that I can’t dance,” said Blu. 

Despite their performance history, when asked if Drag Race had given them an upper hand coming into DWTS, they said: “I really don’t think it has.

“Although I have the stage presence and the energy that is kind of right, I think that a lot of it is about getting the steps right, because once you get the steps right then you can add the performance. 

“It’s definitely been hard trying to tell people: ‘No, no, I don’t have any dance background. Just because I’m a drag queen doesn’t mean I necessarily know how to dance’.”

Blu’s lack of a dance background hasn’t held them back in the competition, thanks in no small part to the expert coaching of their pro partner, Simone Arena. 



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Speaking about their experience training and dancing together on the set of DWTS, Hydrangea told GCN: “[Simone’s] great, honestly. He’s so patient with me, and strict enough with me that we won’t fall out. He keeps me off my phone and present in the room. He just always wants the best for us as a couple, but mostly for me. He just really wants me to succeed, which I think is really amazing. 

“I honestly think he’s one of the best pros on the team, because he puts the most effort in. He’s always trying to push me harder. Even in the pro dances, he is always going over his steps,” added Blu.

“I’m getting a softer side out of him the more that I get to know him. He is very reserved, but I can pull a funny side out of him for sure, and I have been trying to every week.” 

Throughout the show so far, Blu and Simone have performed a total of six dances for the judging panel. On Week One, the couple performed a Cha-Cha-Cha number to Icona Pop’s ‘You’re Free’, followed by an American Smooth rendition of Madonna’s ‘True Blue’ in Week Two. 

Week Three saw the couple dance the Tango to Lady Gaga’s ‘Applause’, a performance that Blu claims is their favourite thus far.

“I felt so fierce. That week was so hard. It was the week where I had, like, a mini breakdown. But we got over it very quickly and I powered through and I think that all the hard work really paid off.”



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Blu continued: “Although, I honestly admit, I think that every single dance that I’ve done I’m very proud of. 

“I was proud of ‘Tattoo’,” added the drag superstar, referring to their Week Five contemporary ballroom routine to Loreen’s Eurovision-winning track that earned the couple an impressive 25-point score from the judges. 

During the routine, Blu suffered a wardrobe malfunction that caused their mic-pack to swing around their feet while they were dancing. Speaking on what was going through their mind at the moment, Blu told GCN: “You put in so much work during the week that the last thing you want is for something silly like that to ruin it. 



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“I only noticed that it was happening whenever we were doing this thing when I was on [Simone’s] shoulders and we were spinning around and that’s when I felt the pull of it. So I had a few seconds to kind of gather myself and whenever he sat me down he just said ‘Stay with me,’ because he must’ve noticed it too.

“I kind of thought I would get a few extra sympathy points,” Blu admitted. “Because I feel like that’s an extra ring I had to jump through. But it is what it is.” 

While Blu and Simone have brought home impressive scores week after week, the queen claims that, for them, it’s about more than the judges’ scores. 

“For me, It’s about how I feel with myself when I look back on the dance. Every week I’m proud of myself. Especially knowing that I could have never done all this stuff six months ago,” added Blu. 

In addition to competing on the series to push themselves, Blu has also expressed in past interviews that they hope their participation on Dancing With The Stars will increase visibility for LGBTQ+ people in Ireland. 

“I’ve never competed on a stage where people at home are going to watch it and not understand what I’m doing,” said Blu. “Like, whenever people watch Drag Race they know what they’re getting themselves in for, but when they watch me on Dancing With The Stars, they have absolutely no idea why I’m dressing in all this regalia to perform for them.

“It’s definitely something I want to do, because visibility is so important. And all these people tuning in every week will see me and learn about me and realise that I’m not this kind of scary ‘groomer’ that the media at the minute is trying to make out that drag queens are. 

“Instead, I’m just a person whose art form is to dress in drag and perform and entertain and make people happy.”

As the queen continued, they expressed how they hoped their participation in the series would continue to challenge people’s preconceived notions about drag queens: “Especially growing up in Ireland, where I was told that I shouldn’t be gay, that I shouldn’t marry someone of a different religion to me, stuff like that. 

“But I think I’ve even kind of changed my parents’ idea of it, showing them that it’s not really a big deal to be queer. 

“I hope I do make it easier for some queer people in Ireland,” Blue continued. “Whether it’s helping them to come out, or just to live their lives a little bit more authentically because they’re seeing how fun it is whenever you choose to just take that leap and be yourself.” 

Looking forward to this weekend’s episode of DWTS, Blu told GCN that they would be taking a departure from the queer anthems, including RuPaul’s ‘Sissy That Walk’, that have defined their run on the show thus far. 



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“It’s something a little bit outside of the realm of what I would normally listen to,” said Blu. “I don’t think it’s a big queer song, but it’s a very, very powerful song. And I’m going to strip back a lot of what people have seen of Blu so far. It’s going to be a very powerful number, I think.”

When asked if they had any goals for their upcoming Week Seven performance, Blu told GCN: “I’m really aiming to score 26 [points] this week. At least.”

Catch Blu Hydrangea compete on Dancing With The Stars Ireland in new episodes airing every Sunday night at 6:30pm on RTÉ One. Those wishing to support Blu can vote for them by calling 1513 71 71 01 for Irish residents or 0901 133 11 01 for people in Northern Ireland. Alternatively, viewers can text BLU to 53125 to cast their vote.

© 2024 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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