Drag show at Siem Reap, Cambodia

It is not uncommon to observe a certain sameness in drag shows around the world, with performers often paying tribute to famous singers and delivering renditions of their iconic songs. I’ve seen a lot of drag shows, so I know!! Nevertheless, our visit to the Barcode bar in Seam Reap shattered these expectations and left me with a night filled with surprises and unforgettable moments.

Stepping into the Barcode bar, located not far from the bustling main Pub Street, we were greeted by a modest crowd. It was around 8:30 in the evening, and the atmosphere was buzzing with anticipation.

As we approached the entrance, a staff member inquired about our booking, to which we replied in the negative. Nonetheless, he kindly found us a seat off to the side, providing us with a decent view of the stage.

Determined to fully immerse ourselves in the experience, we ventured further towards the back of the venue, where we discovered three vacant barstools offering an excellent vantage point. From there, we eagerly awaited the commencement of the show, which was scheduled for 9:45.

As the minutes ticked by, the bar gradually filled up with an eclectic mix of people. Tourists from different corners of the world mingled with locals, and I couldn’t help but notice a few couples comprising Western men and Cambodian partners, a heartening display of love transcending cultural boundaries.

The evening including lots of familiar tunes, including a tribute to the iconic Tina Turner.
There was also a rendition of Whitney Houston’s powerful ballad, “I Have Nothing.”
Another performer took the stage dressed in a traditional Cambodian outfit, captivating everyone’s attention. Singing a song in Khmer, the national language of Cambodia, they offered a remarkable fusion of culture and drag entertainment.

The unmistakable beats of Kylie Minogue’s “Your Disco Needs You” also filled the bar, and while we were already familiar with the song, it became apparent that many of the nearby Americans were not. Their puzzled expressions transformed into curiosity and delight as they discovered this particular hidden treasure in Kylie’s discography.

However, the pinnacle of the evening arrived unexpectedly. The performers took on a song by Swedish drag act, After Dark, a name that rang a bell to the to me but remained completely unknown to my friends. They sang in Swedish, transporting me back to the heart of Stockholm rather than a bar in Cambodia. It was a delightful surprise, and before I knew it, I found myself singing along, enchanted by the sheer magic of the moment. I suspect someone from the act might have spent some time in Sweden!

Not just drag shows, there were also a few male dancers.

Our decision to explore less touristy experiences had led us to Barcode, and it turned out to be a fantastic choice. The cocktails were delicious, the atmosphere was electric, and the show great. I wholeheartedly recommend Barcode to anyone seeking an unforgettable night of entertainment and a break from the expected.

In a world where drag shows can sometimes feel repetitive, it is refreshing to stumble upon hidden gems like Barcode bar.

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