This blog series guides you through a brief history of ballroom culture and voguing. From the beginnings in New York to modern voguing and performance categories, Duane Nasis explores this dance culture.
When voguing came to the UK it was entering an environment with its own multifaceted history of subversive cultural practices. From cabaret and pantomime to glam rock and punk, Britain’s relative acceptance of queerness meant that social tensions tended towards lines of class rather than race, which was crucial to the DNA of New York ballroom.
However, a direct link between subversive youth culture and New York ballroom was forged when iconoclast Malcolm McLaren, an early adopter of hip-hop and Chicago House, teamed with Willi Ninja on the track ‘Deep in Vogue’ released in 1989 (a year before Madonna’s infamous ‘Vogue’).
By this point early vogue houses in the UK had already formed by professional dancers who travelled extensively to and from New York, but who were consigned to perform in the exclusive arena of private events and fashion shows rather than evolving within the clubs, which hindered growth.
Over two decades after the release of ‘Deep in Vogue’ there is now a ballroom culture developing in London rooted in club culture and nourished by UK & European chapters of iconic New York Houses such as Kahn, Lanvin, Milan, Mizrahi, Ninja, Revlon, UltraOmni, and Magnifique.
Members of the London Ballroom Scene and friends will be performing at Friday Late Spectacular: Body Language on Friday 4 November.
Duane Nasis is an Old Way Voguer and Art Director, who creates and develops concepts for various moving image projects from stop-motion animation and commercials to music videos.
Featured image: House of Child, Pam Hogg ‘School for Scandal’ fashion show c. early 90s