NYC based band, Hercules and Love Affair, is known for their disco house music, which propels any house dancer to strike a pose. Not only do I love this song because of it’s classic house beat, but the vogueing in the video reminds me of how much I love house dancing and vogue. I’m not the best at vogueing, but I appreciate the history of the style and it’s relationship with my beloved house music.
Some of you may be reading this and be like what the heck is vogue? Isn’t that a Madonna song or some type of dancing that gay guys do? It is true that a lot of widely acclaimed vogue dancers are gay, but that doesn’t mean everyone who vogues is gay or a male. Vogue, which was originally inspired by Vogue magazine, is the art form of moving your body to the music through model poses. These poses become incorporated with angular, linear, and rigid arm, leg, and body movements.
Vogueing is a lot more rigid then house dancing, but it is truly a intricate dance form. There are many different styles of vogue, new style and classic style are two forms that differ completely. Vogue is a dance style that is practiced widely amongst different ballrooms. For those of you who aren’t in tune with LGBT terminology, ball culture consist of different “houses” or groups of LGBT’s that are overseen by a “house mother” or “house father”. It’s part of the LGBT subculture and it is a beautiful event to watch! Dancer’s and drag queens “walk” and compete for trophies. The competitions sometimes consist of a “walk”, in which the contestant will vogue or dance, sometimes they are even judge off the success or failure of their drag.
There are many different houses in the vogue community, House of Corey, the House of LaBeija, the House of Ninja, the House of Pendavis, the House of Garavani and House of Xtravaganza. Those are a few of the major houses on the East Coast, but some other well known houses include the House of Mizrahi, House of Infiniti, and the House of Aviance.
For many years, my favorite house has been the House of Ninja. Willi Ninja, who passed in 2006, was known as the Grandfather of Vogue. In the 80s he helped moved the vogue dance scene from New York clubs to the concert stage, resulting in a new radical performance art. He taught vogueing throughout Europe and Japan, even modeled in runway shows for Jean Paul Gaultier, and he danced in music videos. Willi Ninja was influenced by martial arts at a young age, which is why he called himself Willi Ninja, which also became the name of one of the most famous vogue houses, House of Ninja.
Since I listen to a lot of house music, I’ve been exposed to different styles of dance. Vogue has become an art form that I enjoy watching. I’m still learning it, but it is fascinating to watch and cheer on. I plan on going to my first House Dance International hopefully next summer, eventually trekking across the globe to attend the Juste Deboute. I still have a lot more house dancing to learn, so for now I’ll continue to eat some popcorn and spend hours on youtube watching vogue battles.
If you want to learn more, check out the 90s documentary Paris is Burning, which chronicles Willi ninja and the ball culture scene in NYC. The clip below is from the documentary, I have to watch the full film!
I loooooooooove Javier Ninja! He is a vogue beast, barely anybody can touch him when it comes to competition. As soon as he hits the stage, it’s a wrap!