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If You Don’t Want to be Embarrassed at Your Next Ball, Start Here

Posted November 16th, 2018

“They see it [the LGBTQ community] as entertainment and forget that the entertainers you see go home at the end of the day. They don’t go home as this person. They’ve had coming out stories. Some of them have been homeless. Some of them have been in hiding. Some of them look for acceptance. Everybody. All of us look for acceptance because it’s not always given…They have to go other places to find acceptance. That’s exactly where this scene that everybody loves so much, that everybody is so interested in comes from.” – Torri Gillis

 

 

Dating back to the early 1900s, balls and ball culture came to prominence between the 1960s and 1980s as largely Black and Latino LGBT youth in New York used it as a place and way to express their creativity and build community and family. The culture remains alive and well in its birthplace of course, but has spread to cities across the country including Philadelphia and world. With the popularity of documentaries like Paris is Burning (1990) and television shows such as My House and Pose, more and more people have fallen in love with the art of voguing and ballroom.

Tori Gillis, assistant director of Legendary and accomplished voguer in the Philadelphia Ballroom Scene, stops by Happy Hour on the Fringe and gives us an insider look into the the world of ballroom: The dos and don’ts of ball culture, the difference between a ‘dip’ and a ‘shwack,’ and the voguers that you need to know. She also reminds us that although balls are fun, we cannot forget about the real people with real struggles who are behind the fabulous outfits, the jaw-dropping hair and make-up, the boldest walks, and baddest voguing.

Photo courtesy of Johanna Austin

 

Required Reading/Watching
Paris is Burning (1990)
My House
Pose
How Do I Look (2006)
Voguers such as Ashley Icon, Kemar Jewel, Destiny West, and Allison Prodigy
This week’s episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe.

 

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