Overview by Lily Rosenberg
Although I am a fan of Drag Race and have watched the film Paris is Burning multiple times, the night went far beyond my expectations. Jay had texted me earlier in the week to instruct me to be “colourful”. I comprehended that as a literal and physical need to wear bright colours, an attempt I made with a few clips in my hair and eyeshadow, but it was nothing compared to the night’s colourful love for life I saw.
Other than Los Angeles Pride, I have never felt so included in an event I wasn’t actually actively taking part in. The crowd was a cornucopia of ages, sexes, and bodies, and it made the theme of self-love and love for humans even more fitting.
Throughout the night, I slowly lost my voice as I yelled out “YASS” or comments about how beautiful the people strutting the runway were. After loudly admiring the bodies on stage, mostly the dancer’s perfect butts, I befriended a group next to me, a group I danced with and chatted with as if we were lifelong friends. I hugged them before I left. This was Vogue Ball. A night filled with love for life itself. It made me rethink how little I do to represent who I am and what I believe in during my daily life.
Not only was the night empowering with host, Rikki Beadle-Blair MBE – who was recently interviewed by The Mancunion – telling us to look in the mirror every day and tell ourselves how beautiful and amazing we are, but the people on stage dancing, performing, and strutting embodied true empowerment and creativity. Rikki also appeared in a plethora of outfits, changing each time he came on stage, and, yes, he did even change his shoes; I was keeping track.
The House of Noir, whom I thought deserved the overall crown, kept bringing out looks that were so creative in ways of inclusion. As Beadle-Blair called out, they were bringing “black girl magic!” the whole time. During the lip-sync section, a member of the House threw off her fur coat to reveal trousers resembling Janelle Monáe’s iconic vagina pants from her ‘Pynk’ music video as she lip-synced to a remix of the song. That is when I lost my voice. Not only was it a lip-sync Ru Paul would be proud of; it represented what this generation is all about, embracing our bodies and the future.
Highlights by Jay Darcy
This is the second Vogue Ball I’ve attended, having attended the Se7en Deadly Sins Ball at Manchester Academy 2 in 2018. In 2019, the event was moved to the much bigger Manchester Academy, where it also played at this year. I think it just gets bigger and better each year.
There were so many incredible Houses and performances, but some deserve a special mention. As Lily noted, House of Noir killed it with the looks and performances. Voguing was mainstreamed and popularised by Madonna, but as Beadle-Blair asserted, it was the “black gays” who started it! CC Noir really killed her Janelle Monáe’ lip-sync – and Janelle, herself, loved it, reposting my video onto her story and commenting “slay meeeeee”.
Thiago Tardivo and Lucy McGrellis performed an XXXtra wet Little Mermaid-inspired lip sync of Fergie’s ‘Clumsy’, which ruined my childhood in the best way possible. I immediately recognised the adorable Luke Arrowsmith from House of Korrupt, whose femme style of voguing I just love. He gave one performance wearing women’s lingerie, with his female dance partner dressed like Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid – there was lots of Ariel and Eric, okay? – celebrating gender nonconformity and giving the middle-finger to patriarchal norms, values and ideals.
House of Viva Brasil (AKA Viva Brasil Samba Show) once again brought sexy Latin energy to the stage. Simone Reeves and Gillian Orrett had some big ass energy, and Adri wore my favourite outfit of the night – a glittering fish costume that she wore during her lip sync of Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliot’s cover of ‘Car Wash’ from Shark Tale. Another of the night’s best outfits was worn by Adrian Turrell-Watts: he literally came dressed as a ship, drowning all the others in sight!
Lastly, we must give it up for Darren Suarez of the hosting house, House of Suarez (who also won the ball), who is to thank for these wonderful balls. Stay tuned for more of their events!