Foto: Sally Alm

The seminar about Ballroom was led by Marvil Iglesias. The participants were Rim Yamamoto, Sofia Ninja / Qarl Qunt and Typhoon Prodigy, who will all participate as jury members or MC at Exposé: The Decades Ball at Pustervik tonight. The conversation was interactive with the audience: we were encouraged to yell, say no or ask questions at any time.

Ballroom was started by queer people of colour who were tired of being excluded in the drag community. One of the originators was Crystal LaBeija, drag queen and “mother” of the House of LaBeija. Ballroom was inspired by drag culture and the fashion industry. Dance styles like voguing were inspired by model poses from magazines such as Vogue. Today there are many different categories of ballroom in which participants compete.

Ballroom isn’t just a hobby – it’s a lifestyle. Ballroom “houses” are safe spaces, the home you weren’t given at birth. They were originally a collective effort for PoC minority and LGBT+ to find new homes, since many had been kicked out from their birth families.

After going through the history of ballroom, a Q&A followed. Some of the questions and answers can be found below:

Q: It’s a different setting now than it was from the start. How do you think Ballroom will develop?

Typhoon: Ballroom is open to everyone who respects the scene. I hope it’ll still be underground, but that more people know about it.

Sofia: It’s developed differently in different countries too. In Russia the dance styles are very popular, but they can’t talk openly about the origins.

Rim: I don’t see the future, honey, I don’t know. (laughs) Some are more mainstream now, some more purist. We’re here right now to grow the scene in your country. I think it’ll be something big, strong and very beautiful. And everybody are welcome.

Q: What’s the key thing to keep in mind not to misinterpret the scene? Typhoon: Stay humble. Make sure your sources are reliable. Educate yourself and only spread correct information.

Q: Every category has a story. What’s yours?

Rim: Mine is Runway. Originally I wanted to be a model, get in the fashion industry. Typhoon: Realness with a twist. It wasn’t what I was going for, but people told me I looked too straight and should switch to Realness.

Sofia: I started with New way, went on to Whacking and then Vogue fem. I recently started doing Old way, but right now I mostly do Drag King/Butch realness.

Q: What is a ball, what components are there?

Rim: It could be anywhere in the world, but you have to be safe. It’s good to have a real venue with a stage, but it could be anywhere. It’s about the community. You come, you do your thing in front of the judges. If you get 10s, you get a prize. If others get 10s in the same category, you battle. Every ball needs a good judge panel, an MC, a DJ, an audience and of course participants.

Recommendations: The documentary “The Queen”, available on Youtube. Exposé: The Decades Ball – A History of Slay-Age. Tonight at 9 PM at Pustervik.

Text: Freja Lindstedt