Welcome to our new weekly series Spilling the Tea. In it we’ll discuss all things LGBTQ and more. Make sure to send me subjects you’re interested in that you want us to feature on Spilling the Tea.
In this edition we discuss the iconic underground Ballroom scene.
Who isn’t familiar with Madonna’s revolutionary video Vogue. It brought the burgeoning underground ballroom scene to the forefront of pop culture and Madonna another chart topping hit.
But where did vogue come from? Let’s go back in time and rediscover the roots of the ballroom scene.
During the aids crisis the gay community was under attack by religious zealots and a growing social phobia created by national ignorance. However, as it always has, the gay community was resilient and found a way to express itself when the world wanted to keep them in the closet. One of the ways which would eventually transcend the gay culture, was the underground ballroom scene.
You have to remember that unlike today, you didn’t have your choice of gay club or bar to socialize at. If you were gay during the 80’s, most of your nightlife was done incognito. That’s how these safe havens were created by these fabulous trailblazers. Although the participants weren’t wealth, their style and grace while they walked made them rich for that moment. Because most ballroom attendees were inner city youth looking for a place to be themselves.
That’s what the ballroom scene provided. What you couldn’t be out in society you could be walking in the ballroom. This is when the planets aligned and the birth of vogue began. As the scene grew, “houses”, as groups of competitors called themselves, starting to compete against each other. This was a collection of innovative artists who created their own palate which was full of colors and life. Their innovation and persistence to be themselves in the face of public oppression and violence created the platform than many of us stand on today. Although many of them have since passed, their legacy has outlasted their bigoted oppressors as their dance and language is now part of American culture.
In honor of the ballroom dancers and houses “don’t just stand there, let’s get to it, strike a pose, there’s nothing to it, vogue!”