Drag Syndrome: Inside the UK's first Down's syndrome drag night

Credit: ITV News

The UK's first drag event featuring performers with Down's syndrome will pave the way for more inclusivity in the arts, organisers say.

"Drag Syndrome" welcomed five newcomers to the drag scene, one of them being Otto Baxter, 30, an award-winning actor and filmmaker.

The Shakespearean actor is no stranger to the stage, but believes the act has helped improve his confidence and self-esteem.

"I've really enjoyed being a drag - I definitely got more confident and I'm more comfortable."

He added: "Being a drag is actually dazzling, darlings."

Daniel Vais, the event's creative director, believes the project has challenged stereotypes and allowed many people with Down's syndrome to express themselves through a new style of performance.

While London's drag scene has warmly welcomed the event, they are aware they may face criticism.

"I think some people will find it uncomfortable because they feel uncomfortable with a different sex wearing the opposite sex's outfit in general, so it's not because they are Down's syndrome," he told ITV News.

"But you saw the artists are really up for it and this is part of their artistic practice, so this is what we focus on - on ourselves, not the outside."

About 750 babies with Down's syndrome are born in the UK each year and it is a condition that affects people of all ages and ethnicities.

According to the Down's syndrome Association, there are approximately 40,000 people with Down's syndrome living in the UK.

Credit: ITV News

Otto's mother Lucy revealed her pride at seeing her son - along with his three brothers - channeling their creativity through drag.

"The reason that I adopted four people with Down's syndrome was because I used to go to an old Victorian hospital where people with Down's syndrome were just shut away," she said.

"I recognised that they were very, very talented and very interesting people who we had just shunned - so actually seeing them doing this is just what I dreamed of back then."

Credit: ITV News

Daniel now plans to take Drag Syndrome to a global audience, with numerous clubs across the world making offers to host the night.

"I think it's new for contemporary culture to include people with learning disabilities in avant-garde culture or in high culture - or in high fashion. It's quite new to everyone, but from what I see - it works really well, really, really well actually."