Hold That Pose For Me
A few years ago, I saw my first vogueing video on YouTube. I have been hooked ever since, finding the one-of-a-kind dance style and underground scene incredibly fascinating. A few of my friends have participated in “balls,” or meetings where different vogueing groups or “houses” come together to battle in dance and fashion-inspired categories for cash prizes. With significant research, I was able to attend one of these balls at a club in NYC last year. I’ve been to a couple since, and they are unforgettable. I don’t know a whole lot about how the scene operates, but there was a documentary about it made several years ago called Paris is Burning. The scene keeps evolving, and new trends are emerging. Vogueing has recently become more popularized by America’s Next Best Dance Crew’s Vogue Evolution team.
There are a few micro-celebrities (also known as legends or icons) within the vogueing community, and one in particular who seems to be a current favorite, Leyomi Mizrahi. With her impressive dips to the floor and long skinny body, she adds a bit of ease and grace that most of her competitors lack. Although, it’s almost equally entertaining to watch a “big girl” swing her weave and flail her stalky limbs around, Leyomi just has something special. And when I say she, I mean he. The majority of the vogueing community consists of gay men, usually African American or Latino.
My friends and I had the pleasure of seeing Leyomi and other “legends,” as they call them, recently at Jack Mizrahi’s Rumble Ball Exotica at the gay nightclub La Esquelita in NYC. These balls are few and far between, so I was thrilled to find out about it and attend. I was told that the particular ball we went to wasn’t a big one like the ones in Atlanta and D.C., but more small-scale and just for fun. And fun it was. Starting around 3am, the dancing began and continued into the morning; people free to be themselves and “battle” each other with movement. The sub-culture is equally as intriguing as the signature movements themselves. Hardcore bass beats and chanting, unique terminology, crazy attire, and a real sense of love and respect within the community kept us watching for hours in amazement.
Just last week, in hopes to see Leyomi again, my friend and I attended the Latex Ball at the Roseland Ballroom. We were quite sad when Leyomi didn’t show up, but enjoyed the spectacle of this mainly fashion focused ball. Outrageous avant-garde head pieces, drag queens dressed to the nines, performances and appearances by reality TV series celebs, and some excellent vogueing.
I’m trying to get a hold of Leyomi Mizrahi for a DancePulp interview. It’s such an underground scene, it’s difficult to get much information on her. I’m waiting for her to accept my friend request on Facebook. For now, I’ll have to get my Leyomi fix on YouTube. Here is some footage we took from the Rumble Ball. The first video is a compilation of the night’s battles, and the second one is highlights of just Leyomi. Enjoy! I sure did.
Photos by Luna Ortiz, the Drunken Photographer & Kevin Tachman, respectively.