VOGUING AND THE HOUSE BALLROOM SCENE OF NEW YORK CITY 1989-1992
Posted on October 23, 2012 by Marco Maggetto
Paris Dupree was at Footsteps, an after-hour club between 2nd Avenue and 14th Street, the day she gave a name to Voguing. Not that she invented it, a lot of poses come from African and Egyptian hieroglyphics and there are traces of it in American masculine jails and balls of the 20ies, but she sharped it, defined it, glamorized it. She was hanging at Footsteps then with a couple of friends throwing shade at other Queens. Paris had a Vogue Magazine in her purse, and while she was dancing she took it out pointed a page and imitated the pose of a model. Another queen came up from the crowd pointed a page, and did a pose. Paris returned: the battle had started. The Voguing was born. The mechanism that lead to the creation of Houses, balls, competitions was meant to last a decade. Voguing was an interpretation of society based on glamour and on matriarchal kind of family. There was a mother, in some cases a father, and there were children joining along the way. Every house had his name, his statement and signature pose. Like a pacific gang, the “girls” where pushed by a common objective: gain the next prize, have fun, discover exaggeration, give energy and pose, pose,pose. This pacific war was a performing art tout court that mixed fashion, black and Asian influences, European fashion and Bruce Lee’s movements. The Voguer in many cases got hooked up to the mechanism and tended to live his life in function of the next ball. The schedule was hysterical. Almost every two weeks there was a competition-ball and most of the queens were sewing their outfits. Making beautiful dresses and rehearsing on the streets was their job. Down Washington Square all the girls were meeting during the day. Willy Ninja, iconic voguing dancer, was there almost every day.
Chantal Regnault, a French Tahitian, moved to New York in the 80ies and got entrapped by the scene of Voguing for many years. She is maybe the person who best documented the phenomenon and like myself, she considered it an important cultural movement destined to influence the world. Through her photography she gave us a romantic yet powerful image of that lost years. Her book “Voguing and the house ballroom scene of New York City” was released last year, and despite being quite “recreational” in it’s simple paging, layout and graphic art, it is an unmissable document of fundamental years. Our recent social history is all encapsulated in Voguing and Renault’s work is beyond appearances, a touching portrait of humanity.