Albemarle restaurant draws controversy, hosts drag show

ALBEMARLE — A local restaurant in downtown Albemarle hosted Stanly County’s first drag show with two sold-out events on Saturday, Sept. 24. 

Tiffany’s at the Boardroom, located at 135 W. Main Street, has been the subject of discussion over the past weeks as it prepared to host the drag show event set up by the Charlotte-based DKO Entertainment company.  

Over the past weeks, a local pastor and members of the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys have criticized business owner Tiffany Dahle’s decision to hold a drag event, citing fears of a possible city ordinance violation as well as it leading to more shows of a similar nature going forward. 

A small group of protestors stood outside the business on Saturday, although they were vastly outnumbered by counter-protestors who rallied in support of Dahle’s choice to enact her property rights as the owner of a private business to celebrate the LGBTQ community. 

Dahle originally set up her business’s ticketed shows as an all-ages event, although she later changed them into 18-and-up shows; two tickets were refunded due to the updated age restriction. 

At the Albemarle City Council meeting for Sept. 19, Dahle addressed the opposition she had faced: “The ugly side consists partially of a loud group of haters, and they’re going to tell you it’s about the children, an ordinance, maybe even it’s about permits, but their track record will prove otherwise. They’re a group of bullies attempting to force communities to conform to their box of beliefs. It’s about their anti-gay and their anti-feminist agenda.” 

Albemarle resident Joshua Ballinger addressed the topic in a public hearing, asking council members to adopt a public resolution similar to one passed this month by the Monroe City Council that formally expresses a lack of support for drag events due to the possible involvement of children in attendance. 

“I’m here to discuss the drag show that is being brought to Albemarle, the originating state of the show, how it has changed, and how I believe that this form of entertainment is close to violating Chapter 68 of the city ordinance,” Ballinger stated. “I’m not saying that a group of consenting adults should not be able to enjoy their preferred type of media. I’m stating that children have no place around it.” 

Clint Lewey, the pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Stanfield, also spoke at the meeting about his desire for a city resolution decrying the drag show: “Of course, everyone knows this is at a private business. However, I believe all of that is irrelevant to the fact that the behavior is a very lewd behavior and certainly not one that identifies Stanly County for who we are and our values and our family values.” 

Dahle provided a response to the pastor’s claims that the business would promote immorality: “Our drag show isn’t lewd. There’s no sexual content. There’ll be no stripping — it’s a classic general drag show with evening gowns, wigs, lots of makeup, and singing Dolly Parton.” 

The city council took no informal or formal actions in relation to the drag show.