Pumping beats, strobing lights, a DJ dropping mixes and people in elaborate costumes are throwing themselves to the ground in what are known as "Death Drops". This is what my average Saturday night looks and sounds like. While the Commentator calls out over the spectacle, a chant permeates the din: "CO-NS-TA-N-TINE". The spectators are just as involved as the competitors. This is Ballroom.
Starting in the 70's in New York, the Ballroom scene hasn't changed that much. Founded by the LGBT community, populated primarily by Queer Youth of Colour, Trans* Men and Women and Drag Queens, and brought to the forefront of popular culture by Madonna's "Vogue". Houses (teams) would gather at balls in extravagant effects (costumes) and compete for trophies and cash in what is essentially are competitive fashion shows with elements of theatre and dance. They look pretty much the same now.
I'm new to the Ballroom scene but once I was recruited to my house, The House of (Greta) Constantine it was like I had gone down the rabbit hole.
The scene preaches many of my personal mantras as Ballroom scripture:
-Bodies of all shapes and sizes are praised,
-Who you love isn't important as long as you come thru,
-You throw shade not fists
-Gender is a fluid scale as opposed to a binary, and everyone is called Gurl!
Within my own house the dynamic is very much that of a family. We have parents, god-parents and an auntie to help care for the kids. We nurture each other's emotional and physical wellbeing outside of competition, and support and cheer when it comes time to compete. There are disagreements and up and downs but when it comes down to it, your family is FAMILY. I grew up an only child, but I now have about a dozen nieces and nephews. Ballroom brought me a creative outlet, a support network, friends, and family, not to mention a few trophies of my own.
Welcome to Ballroom, where the shade is thrown and the T is always served hot!