Voguing enthusiasts were encouraged to ‘strike a pose’ once again for the third annual vogue ball presented by The Bad Girls Club YYC.
Dickens Pub hosted this year’s ball for the voguing aficionados within the dance, fashion and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) communities and beyond.
Ball culture describes an underground LGBTQ subculture in which people “walk” (compete) for trophies and prizes at events known as balls.
Balls are held across North America and often host groups from “houses” where vogue culture is nurtured.
Houses are LGBTQ groups which band together under a “house mother” (sometimes a drag queen or transgender person) or “house father.” The houses compete against each other in balls.
This year’s categories were Icons on the Runway, Bizarre, Sex Sirens and Performance.
Special guest judge Danielle Polanco was flown in from New York City to determine the winners. Polanco, 29, an American dancer and choreographer, who has appeared in the Step Up movies and has choreographed for Beyoncé Knowles, Janet Jackson and Jennifer Lopez, and is a voguer under the House of Ninja.
Polanco is most known for being cast as the leading lady in Omarion’s music video Touch and for starring in Step Up and Step Up 2: The Streets as Missy Serrano.
Polanco also offered workshops on ball performance the next day at Pulse Studios.
“There were higher expectations to meet not only from our supporter and competitors coming but also from her [Polanco],” said Vernon Rubiano, a Bad Girl and the MC for the evening. “She made sure to tell Calgary’s vogue scene how to do it right going forward, which is exactly what we needed.”
The categories incorporate aspects of vogue culture that allow contestants to model, move and express themselves in an open environment.
Contestants dress as their favourite celebrity for Icons of the Runway, make their own costume from things around the house to create something inexplicable for Bizarre, present sex appeal with clothing optional for Sex Siren and dance and vogue for Performance.
Vogue culture is described as a subculture within the LGBTQ community. The ball of this particular measure is like combining the runways of fashion week and a beauty pageant and then adding a lot of ferocity and open expression.
“My hope for these events that we as the Bad Girls throw is that more and more people will continue to rebel and counteract what the general population thinks about gay culture,” said Rubiano. “There needs to be safer spaces for people like us to just exist without having to subscribe to what Hollywood now thinks is an acceptable gay.”
The vision of the eccentric collective known as the The Bad Girls Club YYC is “To encourage community engagement with arts and culture by developing education and appreciation initiatives that respond to community needs. [They] want to offer innovative ways for people to interact with art and culture and to foster learning and an appreciation of art and culture in our daily lives.”
The collective also strives to support other groups such as HOT MESS, a (straight-friendly) gay dance party that happens about once a month at a variety of local venues, and Velvet Cinema, a monthly pop-up movie night aimed at creating authentic experiences, through film, for the LGBTQ community, who are “making their big gay footprint in Calgary,” Rubiano says.