August 04, 2007


An in-depth, interesting article from THE ADVOCATE on the burgeoning ball scene, which is still in full swing and has spread nationwide.

By Clay Cane

“Walking into a ball, you feel like everything is right. Everything that society, gay and straight, says no to, is ‘yes’ here,” muses Antar Prodigy as he preps for New York City’s Icon Ball. “Every gay stereotype there is, the ballroom scene embraces—no judgments. It’s truly magical.”

Harlem’s Minisink Townhouse of the New York City Mission Society, where the Icon Ball is being held, is already packed with ballroom legends like catsuit-wearing Kristina Richards-Tsunami, Yolanda LaPerla in tight blue jeans and clean white sneakers, and Allura Blahnik, stomping the floor in thigh-high gold boots.

The ball scene first garnered national attention in 1991 with Jennie Livingston’s documentary Paris Is Burning. The film showed the lives of urban African-American and Latino queers in New York who channeled an ambition to perform, an appreciation for opulence, and frustration at an unwelcoming world into dynamic drag contests that united them as a community and highlighted their struggles as triple minorities (not rich, not white, not straight). But many ballgoers believe Paris Is Burning unfairly branded them as prostitutes, thieves, and degenerates, mere casualties of the treacherous streets of Gotham. Others believed Madonna’s “Vogue” video, which co-opted the scene’s struts and posturing, marked the beginning of the ballroom scene, which in reality, dates back to Harlem drag balls in the 1920s.

Ball competitions take place between houses—that is, groups of performers operating together under a house mother or father. Participants “walk” against each other and are judged on costume, appearance, attitude, and dance skills. The competitions are broken down into various categories like “female figure performance,” where anyone under the “female” gender identity (biological women, drag queens, or transsexuals) dance and vogue against each other for cash or trophies. Another category is “butch queen realness,” where gay men compete against each other to look most convincingly like heterosexual men.


And if you'd like to experience a ball for yourself, check out The House of Latex Ball, an annual affair at Roseland which is packed to the rafters. It's also conceived and sponsored by GMHC to spread awareness of latex--ie condoms.


LONDON'S BURNING, TOO! A campy tribute to runway from Horsemeat Disco featuring Luke Howard, Princess Julia, Les Child and even a recreation of Leigh Bowery's Wigstock: The Movie baby-birthing scene!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had a Ball at Stockholm/Sweden Pride the other day. Judged by the "Army Of Lovers". Kinda nice this coming back again.


Gothenburgh Sweden

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Not rich" is not a minority.

11:44 PM  

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