House of Ayebatonye x Brick City Studios presents The Iconic Vogue Ball
The Iconic Vogue Ball was more than just an ordinary party. An immersive and interactive audiovisual experience, the Ball was a homage to the birthplace of Vogue, New York City.
Through ballroom culture, Voguing has provided an outlet for those who were marginalized to express themselves creatively, and it is so much more than just striking a pose. The art of Voguing began in the early 1960s by the African American and Latino gay and transgender community as an escape from the oppression they experienced daily, and as a means to celebrate their own individual identities. A dance consisting of stylised poses reminiscent of models on the runway, it was started to create safe spaces that rejected racism, transphobia and homophobia. An underground culture made famous by Madonna with her song “Vogue”, it has unfortunately been commercialised, appropriated and watered down in mainstream contexts to simply a visual experience.
The Iconic Vogue Ball held at Brick City Studios (BCS) in Marrickville on the 27th of May 2017 was an embodiment of the New York ballroom culture ideology within an Australian context. Starting with vogue battles hosted by Brisbane based MC, Miss Blanks, voguers competed in the categories Old Way, New Way, Vogue Femme and Runway. In line with vogue culture in NY, there were drag and gender queer performances throughout the night by Radha La Bia, Ponnaya Devi, Gina Colada, Matt Format, Marlena Dali, Akashic, Sarah Moany and Koco Carey. The ball encouraged creative experimentation, and putting your DIY skills to good use by making a costume that you feel represents the true essence of your character.
BCS is a new all female Artist Run Initiative and Creative Warehouse Space that was started as a space for female identifying, gender fluid and minorities to exchange knowledge and ideas, share experiences and create freely. Event Organiser and Creative Director at BCS, Ayebatonye Abrakasa, was inspired to create the event after returning to Sydney after living in Berlin for two years. Feeling disheartened by the effect the lockout laws have had on the Inner West, and inspired by the Berlin adaptation of ballroom culture, Abrakasa aimed to create a safe haven for all those who felt they couldn’t be themselves everyday.
Proceeds from the event will be going to the Gender Centre (gendercentre.com.au), an NGO and charity organization that has been operating direct front line services to the transgender, gender questioning and gender diverse community for almost 34 years. They provide services including crisis and transitional housing, group work counseling, outreach to transgender street based sex workers, jail outreach, youth support and much more.
Through projection mapping, and art installations, Mikaela Stafford transformed Brick City Studios into a variety of curvilinear appearing and disappearing projected forms that were interactive for patrons. Stafford also considered how the architecture of Brick City Studios could interact with the audience. With a Matrix inspired effect she created artificial “doorways” with lasers and fog for people to walk through. Consequently creating a separation from the real world, a new one was made, that was an inclusive and safe space for anyone that entered. A celebration of self -empowerment, identity and representation the Iconic Vogue Ball was an event not to be missed.
Press release via Ayebatonye, Images by Campbell Henderson.