Wonder Woman and Sailor Moon had a massive vogue throwdown in Stockholm
10.08.2013
06:44 am

Topics:
Dance
Sports

Tags:
Wonder Woman
voguing
Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon and Wonder Woman
 
A few assertions about this video.

This video is designed to puzzle stodgy old people—I include myself in that group. This video has everything that appeals to youth in it, and nothing that makes sense to old people. We have finally attained maximum youthiosity.

This video is mildly NSFW unless you work in an anime production shop.

If this video is any indication, vogueing is one part breakdancing and one part being a spaz.

The world sorely needs more dancing competitions that involve cosplay.

The only word that adequately describes this video is “COMMITMENT.”
 

 
(via Lost at E Minor)

Written by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Feeling CVNTY: a new home for voguing online


 
As you may know, voguing is one of my major obsessions. I put together this hefty piece of writing on the modern vogue/ballroom scene for Boing Boing back in March: Welcome to the Ballroom, where Voguing is always in style

Inspired by interviews I gathered in my research for that piece, and my general love of watching videos clips of the dancing, sharing audio of the best music, and generally just watching geeky interviews, I have started a new blog dedicated to vogue and ballroom culture in its many forms. It’s called CVNTY and you can find it here: http://c-v-n-t-y.tumblr.com/

While Paris Is Burning is one of my favourite movies ever, for many, it seems to have frozen vogue culture in a late 80s/early 90s time warp, something that is easier to digest as a retro scene. Of course, the era depicted in that film WAS a golden age, but voguing is a hugely vibrant culture right now, and I aim to show both the past AND the present, and maybe even a little bit of the future, if I’m lucky. There are already exclusive interviews up on CVNTY with kingpins of the modern ballroom sound MikeQ and Vjuan Allure, along with many others I interviewed for Boing Boing but whose contributions didn’t get used, as well as cross posts to pieces I have written for other sites such as Red Bull Music Academy and Dalston Superstore. I will keep the remit of this blog to dance music artists whose work touches on issues of queerness/race/class/otherness, although there will always be room for posting music, people and things that just fucking fabulous. Needless to say, my own production and dj work as CVNT will pop up from time to time.

To lure you in, dear DM reader, here’s a rare voguing clip I’ve just posted on CVNTY, and am sharing here too, as it deserves much more than the paltry 24,000 views it currently has.

It’s called Voguing: The Message, and it is from 1989, which means it pre-dates both Paris Is Burning and Madonna’s vogue daliance. It takes a look at the emerging vogue ball scene and the pier children who attended these events, and features interview and performance footage of the legendary Willi Ninja (above.) Founder of the House of Ninja, Willi was unarguably one of the greatest voguers of all time, and hugely responsible for voguing travelling beyond the clubs and being taken seriously as a n art form. This film possibly even pre-dates Ninja’s own starring role in the video for Malcolm McLaren’s “Deep In Vogue”, one of my favourite pieces of dancing ever caught on film. More info:

Voguing: The Message traces the roots of this gay, Black and Latino dance form, which appropriates and plays with poses and images from mainstream fashion. Voguing competitions parody fashion shows and rate the contestants on the basis of movement, appearance and costume. This tape is a pre-Madonna primer that raises questions about race, sex and subcultural style.

Dir. Jack Walworth, David Bronstein & Dorothy Low 1989 13 min. USA

Founded in 1977, Frameline is the nation’s only nonprofit organization solely dedicated to the funding, exhibition, distribution and promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media arts. Frameline Voices is a new digital initiative that showcases diverse LGBT stories and expands access to films by and about people of color, transgender people, youth, and elders.

Voguing: The Message is that rare thing, an important historical document that gives insight into a time, a place, and a set of people. In other words it’s that thing we call GOLD DUST. 

You can find more like this (and subscribe!) over on CVNTY, but for now GET INTO IT:
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:

Notes from the Niallist: That’s so CVNT, a ‘future-house’ voguing mix
Notes from the Niallist: A celebration of ‘Paris Is Burning’ with Latrice Royale and Peaches Christ
Dream Queens: ‘Voguing and the House Ballroom scene of NYC 1989-1992

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Octavia St Laurent and the legends of voguing want you to ‘Be Somebody’


 
Here’s a wicked video from Sweden’s House Of Wallenberg for the track ‘Be Somebody” which features lead vocals from the late Octavia St Laurent (ballroom legend and star of both How Do I Look and Paris Is Burning, referenced in the song’s title) and voguing from legendary members of the Houses of Ninja, Milan and Evisu.

House Of Wallenberg writes:

Sadly, Octavia St Laurent passed away before the release of this single. To celebrate her memory, the famous vogue houses of New York, spearheaded by House of Ninja, House of Milan and House of Evisu [including Benny and Javier Ninja, Aviance Milan and Dashaun Wesley of Vogue Evolution], came together and gave an epic performance in the accompanying video directed by Petter Wallenberg himself.

During filming, a homeless man came up and held an improvised speech about the meaning of being somebody, which is featured in it’s entirity in the breakdown of the video.

Very nice indeed…

House Of Wallenberg “Be Somebody” ft Octavia St Laurent
 

 
“Be Somebody” is available to buy on iTunes. For more info visit the House of Wallenberg website.

 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Deep In Vogue: an introduction to ballroom culture and modern voguing


Throwing down at Vogue Knights, NYC
 
I have been a bit slack with my Notes column of late, and here’s the reason why.

I love voguing (and you should know this by now.) I love the music, the dancing, the style, the language, the queens (both butch and femme), the battling, the videos, the full length films, the drama, the energy, the past, the present and the future. Voguing and Ballroom culture a very significant and valuable part of the LGBT landscape, the serves to teach children self-respect and personal growth, and gives them a space to be accepted, and to thrive, in.

I love voguing so much that I have written a in-depth introduction to the culture for Boing Boing. Funny as it may seem, this wasn’t an easy piece for me to write—I started and scrapped 3 drafts, which just kept getting longer and longer—but I am happy with this one. There’s quite a lot of material that I just didn’t have the space to include in this piece, and my thoughts are now quite seriously turning towards a book documenting the culture. It really is that rich.

Like hip hop, ballroom encompasses many different elements of artistic expression, from music and language to clothes and design, and, of course, dance. It deals directly with some of society’s most controversial issues, namely sexuality, race, class, gender roles and expression, beauty modes, self-definition and competition. It doesn’t do this in the polemical style we may be used to from punk and political hip-hop, however, where topics are theorised and discussed. In ballroom these issues are lived and experienced, as a vast number of those taking part in this underground scene are transgender, working class, people of colour.

Ballroom includes society’s most marginalised: minorities within minorities within minorities, for whom voguing and ballroom culture is an important resource. In a world where they have been rejected, ballroom not only accepts these people for who they are, it celebrates them, in a variety of unique and different categories. The competitive, prize-winning aspect of ballroom gives some participants a sense of worth lacking in the “real” world (not to mention money), and the familial structure of the “houses”—mother, father, sister, brother—often acts as a real surrogate, as many in this world have been disowned by their biological families.

Here, voguing is not just a dance, and ballroom is not just a genre. It’s a way of life that brings pride, peer recognition and self-respect. The genre of music is one thing, but the culture which surrounds it is another; and both are intricately tied into one another.

...

To quote the late, great Willi Ninja, who is perhaps the greatest voguer the world has yet seen, voguing is like a challenge dance: instead of fighting you take it out on the dancefloor. Depending on who you ask, this uniquely stylised dance form arose either amongst the inmates of Ryker’s Island, or at gay Harlem dance parties in the sixties (it’s most probably a mixture of both). Voguing got its name from Vogue magazine, as the competing dancers would flip to pictures of models posing, and imitate them, trying to outdo each other in the process. As it developed the dancers became quicker and more agile, and incorporated other forms of dance such as waacking (high speed arm movements and hand gestures) and body popping (though some say that voguing actually pre-dates popping, and was itself an influence on the original b-boys). Fast forward to 2013 and voguing has come a long way, progressing through the styles of old way, new way, femme and dramatics, to today’s almost hyperactive, turbocharged version of the dance. Although key elements of old way voguing remain (posing, “face”), a much more frantic and stylised choreography takes precedence, with signature moves such as the dip (when a dancer falls flat on their back), the duck walk and hair control (using long hair as stylistic element of the dance, in essence whipping it back and forth).

There’s more to vogue culture than just the dancing and the dressing up, and if you have seen Paris Is Burning you only know the very tip of this glittering iceberg. If you want to know more, read the rest of Welcome to the Ballroom, where Voguing is always in style here.

To accompany the piece, here is a 13 minute dj mix I put together of “cunt” tracks, “cunt” meaning “fabulous” in the world of Ballroom. Yes, the c-bomb gets dropped quite a lot in this mix, so you’re getting a warning: it’s NSFW!

CVNT TR4XXX 13min Cunty Minimix for #FEELINGS
 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Notes From The Niallist: That’s so CVNT, a ‘Future-House’ voguing mix
01.25.2013
12:30 pm

Topics:
Dance
Music

Tags:
NFTN
house music
voguing
CVNT
Future


 
I have a new house music project, and it’s renewing my faith in this whole “making music” malarkey.

It’s called CVNT TR4XXX, or if you don’t mind bad language, CUNT TRAXXX. If you;re wondering why I chose that name, the c-word has been used in drag and gay circles for quite a while as a compliment, and CVNT (for short) is dedicated to VOGUING and the culture that surrounds it, which is heavily gay, trans and femme. 

As the picture I use as a logo states:

CUNT: (adj) a term used in gay slang to describe someone who is impressive, original or fantastic in regards to style or demeanour.
 

 
This week the London-based fashion label Long Clothing have uploaded a CVNT mix I put together showcasing some of my sounds, and a lot of others who operate in roughly the same ballpark.

For too long, house music has been perceived as a European-dominated scene (which it is to an extent) but it’s important to remember the roots of this music, and that it was born in the ghettos of Chicago, produced mostly by black and queer kids messing around with drum machines and boxed-up synth modules.

Not to mention house music’s spiritual home of New York City, the town that gave birth to voguing, and that, in the early 90s at least, spearheaded an assault of queer/black/latino/drag culture on the popular consciousness. Madonna didn’t start that shit, you know.

For those of you who don;t know, voguing was not just a fad, it was and still is a unique and complex culture in its own right, and it lives on, stronger than ever. That’s the real inspiration for starting CVNT, watching clips of various new way vogue dancers competing on YouTube and dreaming up a soundtrack to make them go wild to.

There’s some other kinds of house on this mix too, most notably “Jersey Club”, which features a distinctive 5-kicks-to-the-bar rhythm, a little bit of a “B-More”/Baltimore influence (similar to Jersey Club but with breakbeats) and “ballroom”, which is essentially house music for new way voguers and combines elements of B-More and Jersey Club with a heavy dose of 90s diva realness.

I call all this stuff “future house” because these genres are taking house music in a different direction, but one that is still very much connected to the black/gay undergrounds where they started. This music has got very little to do with dub, or spending hours tweaking a synth patch to sound good in a k-hole. This is defiantly DANCE music, designed to make you MOVE. Most of it is based around the rhythm, cutting up tiny samples of speech and music and arranging it around quick-fire patterns. This is music from the MPC generation, where you don’t get money for anything, but the synths are free.

Besides, I’m SICK of boring bloody minimal, ploddy bro-step and electro-house! As “EDM” takes more and more of a foothold in the American consciousness it’s worth reminding people that YOU GUYS INVENTED IT. You still have PLENTY of homegrown talent pushing these genres forward right on your own doorstep, but possibly not in the places you’d expect to find them. 

If I can point anyone in that direction, then it’s a start.

Here’s the mix for Long Clothing, which you can download from their website. The tracklist is here.
 

 
BONUS!

Here’s a couple more tracks for good measure, from the Death Drops EP:
 

 

 
You can hear more productions on the CVNT TR4XXX SoundCloud page.

 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Dream Queens: ‘Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of NYC 1989-92’


 
Now here’s something that was sure to be found in the more fabulous Christmas stockings this past festive seasons. Published by the respected London-based record label Soul Jazz, Voguing: Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of New York City 1989-92 is a collection of photographs by Chantal Regnault documenting the titular scene just as it gained worldwide attention thanks to the likes of Malcolm McLaren and Madonna.

Don’t be fooled if you think that voguing was a mere fad that came from nowhere to disappear just as fast as it sprung up 20-odd years ago. Yes, Madonna brought the dance form to the public consciousness, but if you think she invented it, then child, you need educatin’. Voguing started in Harlem in the 60s, where black and latino drag queens and transexuals had started to host their own balls (beauty pageants) outside of white society, and pioneered a new form of dance based on poses copied from Vogue magazine.

But the history of the drag and gay ballroom scene goes back much further than that - by about another hundred years, as explained by noted author and disco historian Tim Lawrence, in his foreword to this book:

Harlem’s Hamilton Lodge staged its first queer masquerade ball in 1869, and some twenty years later a medical student stumbled into another ball that was taking place Walhalla Hall on the Lower East Side. He witnessed 500 same-sex male and female couples ‘waltzing sedately to the music of a good band.

How things have changed - the modern voguing ballroom scene is/was anything but sedate! Lawrence goes on to put into context the concept of a “house” (in effect a surrogate gay family or gang), which has long been a central aspect of vogue and drag culture:

Referencing the glamorous fashion houses whose glamour and style they admired, other black drag queens started to form drag houses, or families that, headed by a mother and sometimes a father, would socialise, look after each other, and prepare for balls (including ones they would host and ones they would attend).

...

The establishment of the houses also paralleled the twists and turns of New York’s gangs, which flourished between the mid 1940s and the mid 1960s as the city shifted from an industrial to a post-industrial base while dealing with the upheavals of urban renewal, slum clearances and ethnic migration. As historian Eric Schneider argues, gangs appealed to alienated adolescents who wanted to earn money as well as peer group prestige.

Despite the faddish nature of Madonna’s daliance with this scene, voguing and ballroom documentaries like Wolfgang Busch’s How Do I Look and Jennie Livingston’s Paris Is Burning (not to mention performers like the late Willi Ninja and his extant House of Ninja) have done much to establish the history of this world and inspire new generations to take part. And it’s not hard to see the appeal - in a recent interview with The Guardian, Chantal Regnault eplained how voguing and its culture helped re-invigorate New York’s nightlife at the peak of the AIDS crisis:

...the Ball phenomena kind of revived New York nightlife, which had shrunk drastically as the first wave of AIDS related sicknessses were decimating the community. The Queens became the stars of the straight New York clubs, and began to be recognized, appreciated and photographed. They appeared on TV shows and were interviewed by TV icons. The voguers also became a big attraction and soon everybody wanted to emulate their dancing style. Two figures were instrumental in launching the trend in the awakened downtown clubs: Susanne Bartsch and Chichi Valenti, two straight white females who both had a knack for the new and fabulous and a big social network.

Why 1989-1992? What happened next?

1989-1992 was the peak of creativity and popularity for the ballroom scene, and when the mainstream attention faded away, the original black and Latino gay ballroom culture didn’t die. On the contrary, it became a national phenomena as Houses started to have “chapters” all over the big cities of the United States. But I was not a direct witness to most of it as I moved to Haiti in 1993.

As Regnault states voguing is still going strong today, with balls in many of America (and the world’s) largest cities, and this book is a perfect introduction to a compelling, not to mention often over-looked, aspect of gay and black history. Regnault managed to capture some of the most recognisable faces from that world showing off in all their finery, while there are fascinating interviews with some of the key players like Muhammed Omni, Hector Xtravaganza, Tommie Labeija and more. Voguing And The House Ballroom Scene of New York City 1989-92 is quite simply an essential purchase for fans of underground culture.
 

Avis Pendavis, 1991
 

Cesar Valentino (right), Copacabana, 1990
 

RuPaul, Red Zone 1990
 
Voguing: Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of New York City 1989-92 by Chantal Reignault (with an introduction by Tim Lawrence) is available to buy from Soul Jazz Records.

With thanks to Legendary Ballroom Scene for the scans.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘Paris Is Burning’: Vogue Realness

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion