Monday, 10 April 2017

Going to the Vogue Ball

Waiting in the long queue that weaved from under the railway arch and spilled out onto the street, my friend and I were relieved that other people had 'made an effort'. In fact, we were stood behind an Egyptian Goddess in all her golden glory which was a good giveaway, and as we got nearer to the door we watched as an 80's leather clad dream complete with a perfect teal bob, sashayed her way to the line. We were in the queue for Manchester's Vogue Ball and Manchester itself did not disappoint, turning up in all her grandeur to witness the event. 

We had been invited by choreographer, dancer and producer of the night, Darren Pritchard in order for me to to see for myself what he described as the 'inside of your head' and to specifically see Manchester's House of Ghetto who I will be doing some art work with (See my research posts about The Hidden Pin Up).

Rikki Beadle-Blair hosted looking superb in fishnets and denim hot-pants and whipped up the crowd; 'By the end of the night you will all have tapped into that little 15 year old black gay boy from Harlem. In a time before there was ever such a thing as a black president (now any tw*t can do it), when he could only find his true voice, his true family and true identity in the vogue ballroom'. We went wild and the show began...

To sum up the feel of  Voguing, it's about inclusivity, expression, creativity and attitude, it isn't a dance contest or a beauty pageant. Those little bitches from America's Next Top Model would get flattened, these dancers and performers were the real deal. There were a number of bouts themed with different titles, 'Solo' 'Icons' 'Sex Siren' 'Fantasy'... each house taking to the catwalk to own it using a combination of catwalk, costume, dance, burlesque and drag. 

 The House of Ghetto pay homage to Josephine Baker

The 'Sex Siren' bout included a Victoria's Secret model and Barbie and Ken and The House of Ghetto took it old school with an homage to Josephine Baker complete with a golden banana skirt and a pretty x-rated way of sharing the fruit. It was so exciting to see this icon being nodded to after looking into black pin up history and writing about her just a couple of weeks back.

It was also great to see my past muse and model, the ever gorgeous Grace Oni Smith, claiming the stage as she performed with her house The House of Decay in an iconic group dance. 

One of the stand out performances of the night was when the panel of judges couldn't choose between The House of Suarez or The House of Decay to win the 'Realness' bout and they ended up dancing it out against each other. It was full on fierce! The House of Decay deservedly won but both contestants were amazing and what really caught my eye was that despite the intense gestures and savage energy between the two, they began and ended the bout holding hands and hugging one another. That summed up the night for me.

Keeping it raw, The House of Ghetto danced to Missy Elliot

But to get to the real meat of the matter, the 'Choreography' bout at the end of the night was where House Of Ghetto reigned supreme, or they should have, narrowly missing out to Liverpool's House of Lipa. This was where the all black female group took control of the catwalk and blew the crowd away. Dancing to Missy Elliot they were stunning. Slick sexy confident and totally on point, I couldn't sit still watching them, the performance was amazing. Everyone else seemed to feel the same way because, as the judges tried to decide who should win that bout, a chant of Ghe-tto! Ghe-tto! Ghe-tto! took hold. They were robbed.

The sights and sounds and the energy in the room were incredible. I've been to burlesque and drag nights, but this was something else, it worked on a whole other level, it felt more raw and immediate. And as promised, while Madonna streamed over the speakers and the lights went up, at the end of the night each person was tuned into their inner 15 year old black gay boy and we felt fabulous!

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