Judges at Vogue Brawl 2012: Pride Is Burning
As we saw in part one, voguing in the UK comes from a different tradition to that in the States, and even mainland Europe.READING IS FUNDAMENTAL!
Not based so much on the streets or in the clubs, voguing came to prominence here in the early 90s through professional dance troupes and art and fashion shows. Yet, as with America, the natural home for voguing in this country is still the house ball, where all elements and categories get to work the runway and compete for legendary status. And, although we may be some way behind our European counterparts when it comes to regular balls, the UK is not completely devoid of house balls – though as usual with this scene, you have to look a bit further afield to find the real action.
The UK’s North West is the centre of the current UK vogue renaissance, with annual balls in Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow. Time for some disclosure: as The Niallist, I’m a founder member of the Manchester-based queer collective Tranarchy, and since January 2011 we have held an annual ball called Vogue Brawl. In my time, I’ve also helped organise and host the Fierce Ruling Divas Ball in Glasgow, and I’ve DJed at Liverpool’s House Of Suarez Ball under my vogue production alias CVNT TR4XXX. I’m heavily involved in this scene, and right now it’s focussed in spots that are well respected for their dance music cultures and histories, but that don’t necessarily get a huge amount of time in the media spotlight.
We’ve already encountered a young Darren Suarez in part one of this article, voguing as a teenager in the clubs, after hours parties and cemeteries of late 80s and early 90s Liverpool. Flash forward 20 years, and Darren is a professional dance teacher with an idea for throwing a ‘House Of Suarez Ball’. The first of these balls was thrown in 2010, and since then the House Of Suarez Ball has grown to become the UK’s biggest annual vogue function.
NC: How would you describe the HOS ball to someone who has never been?
Darren Suarez: “If you’ve never been to one of our balls, I can guarantee that you will be overwhelmed with colour, dance, energy and fierceness. At least one of the five categories will inspire people. The categories at our ball are Fantasy, which gives creatives in costume and fabric the chance to create big costumes and installations in the theme of the ball, to live out their fantasy, in a way. There is Solo, which is inspired by a solo performer’s confidence to vogue, or perform solo any of the other styles that might fall under that umbrella, such as waacking, hands, femme, new way, old way, etc.