I love a lot of things in life: house music, spirituality, family, writing, art, and romance. Those are just a few things I love, but when it comes to the subject of romance I truly love seeing people fall in love…all types of love.What I mean by that is, love is love. Whether it’s interracial love & gay love, all love is equal in my opinion. It’s about finding who makes you happy, no matter what color they are or sex. Unbiased Love.
The message of universal love and equality is a badge I wear proudly. I’m not a lesbian or bisexual, but I’m a Black woman that dates “outside” of my race a lot; not by choice, it just happens that way. There is nothing wrong with exploring other cultural options (or sexual if that is your thing) and I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way.
In Elle Varner’s new music video “I Don’t Care” she stands up for interracial love and gay love, showing that she doesn’t care…you love who you love. It’s nice to see a video filled with different images that you don’t often see in “mainstream” videos. It sort of reminds me of Marsha Ambrosius “Far Away” and the message she made with her video–the reality of the hatred towards gay individuals. Just because you don’t understand something or don’t believe in it, it doesn’t mean you should hate it. LOVE IS LOVE.
P.S. I really love her hair! Geeze, total natural envy right now. Can’t wait for my natural hair to get longer!
Not too long ago I did a blog post on the history of house music and a documentary that I highly recommend people watch. It’s important to truly understand the history of the things you love, so if you appreciate house as much as I do, then be sure to check out my blog post on the documentary Pump Up the Volume: The History of House.
Since I’m such a huge fan of house music and the vibe of universal love within the house community, I’m a huge advocate of learning the history of the culture. But for those of you who may or may not know the history of house, a large portion of the culture began with the LGBT community. Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan, and many other prominent figures in the community were openly gay men who just wanted to spread the love of good music. So that’s one of the reasons why I get really upset when I meet people that are anti-gay and just so close-minded to the community; acting as if those who are in the LGBT are weird, gross, and should be ostracized or treated like crap. That’s not cool.
This stigma associated with house, vogueing, and the LGBT isn’t just prevalent in our current society, but it’s been around since the early foundations of house music. Not only has it been around since the creation of house, but also since the creation of the ballroom subculture. It’s easy to think that this hatred & ambiguity is just around today, but the documentary film Paris Is Burning reminded me that the stigma of “gay culture” has been around since the early 80s.
The documentary Paris Is Burning is a riveting film that was released in 1990. Throughout the course of the documentary, filmmaker Jennie Livingston gives viewers an insight on the gay culture and the evolution of “houses.” If you know anything about vogue-ing and the gay community, then you’ll know that within the community their is a subculture that hosts “balls.” At these balls usually different “houses” -groups of gay men that are “family”-compete against other houses. But it’s not just about the rivalries amongst the houses. The ballroom events are a place for openly gay men (including transgenders, transexuals) to come into an environment where they can feel accepted, feel at home, and show off their “assets” that might not be so celebrated in the straight world. What I mean is, they can dress up and flaunt themselves as women or anything they want to be, and its okay. At the balls, your at home. It’s a safe haven.
Even though I’m a straight female, I’m a huge fan of the vogueing culture. I mean, it is definitely apart of the early days of house music and a lot of the ballroom events play house, so I can’t hate on it. It just wouldn’t be right. I may not be good at the art of vogue, but I still appreciate the culture & love learning the history of it. And Paris Is Burning gave me even more insight on the history of vogue. It was amazing to see the legendary Willi Ninja, the mother of House of Ninja (he passed away in 2006) and hear him explaining how he first got started vogue-ing.
The documentary is absolutely fierce! Of course it focuses on vogue-ing, but the film brings together all aspects of the underground ballroom culture during the 80s. It’s a refreshing look at the Black & Latino gay community in New York during the early 80s, and how the balls were a place for them to feel at home. Of course there was the usual drama & rivalries between the houses, but there was still a sense of community that bonded everyone together.
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!