Yass queen *snaps fingers* Getintothis‘ David Hall shimmied down to the docklands and experienced a night of fabulousness, frocks and fierceness.
In a post-RuPaul’s Drag Race world, queer culture has never been more mainstream and in demand. Now in its 11th year, the House of Suarez Vogue Ball just seems to gain more and more popularity every year, and it showed why in its 2017 incarnation.
Vogueing has always been about subversion. From its inception in 1960s Harlem throughout its growth from the underground club scene in late-80s and 90s New York, it first sought to transform the club into a fashion show. Low art into high art. Now it continues breaking boundaries in its subversion of gender and audience.
In a regular fashion show, the audience are the ones in charge and the models subjugated. Vogueing however empowers those on the runway and turns that gaze back onto the audience. It was hard to argue in the Invisible Wind Factory when performers stepped onto the stage sprouting wings or dressed as superheroes that they weren’t firmly in charge.
The spectacular show was a melting pot of creativity riffing on the Seven Deadly Sins, a theme which threw out all manner of divergent imagery that Fincher himself would have been proud of. Opening the show with a Hellraiser inspired puzzle box vogue, House of Suarez served up a deviant psychosexual glamour and took our hands, delving into the circles of the Inferno.
The Ball was a perfect fit for the Invisible Wind Factory itself, inhabiting the space well. Despite Storm Brian raging outside, there was barely a frizzy hair in sight in the crowd, with some sickeningly sinful outfits on display. Irrepressible MC Ricky Beadle Blair pulled the best dressed punters out of the audience and got them to walk the runway, with the best surely the ‘greed’ dress made entirely out of junk food packaging. Inspired.
There was also a definite Scouse pride in the air too, with the biggest cheers reserved for the hometown House of LIPA in the opening round. Elsewhere, highlights were provided by the solo category and the obligatory lip sync round, with the House of Suarez taking the solo category after double dance off against House of Decay. Just like the X Factor.
A special shout out has to go to the House of Krip, who were both spectacularly on point and hugely impressive all night. A house for people identifying as deaf or disabled, the audience got right behind their performers every time they took to the stage with deaf applause, and the whole event was signed throughout. It was amazing.
Meanwhile Krip‘s Wuthering Heights lip sync performance was phenomenal, as was the House of Horror’s sassy Babadook lip sync and a send up of Teresa May and Maggie Thatcher discovering their… well, domineering sides. In the end however the trophy was controversially handed to House of Cards over House of LIPA‘s brilliant spearing of meme queen Gemma Collins.
Nevertheless, there was room for improvement. The judging aspect was maybe a little chaotic, and the categories seemed disordered. Choreography didn’t really work as a climax and went on too long, and it felt like solo and lip sync would’ve wound up the night to a crescendo nicely.
Complaints however were few and far between in a night of death drops that will live long in the memory, and provided smiles that will take a long time to fade.
Pictures by Getintothis‘ Kevin Barrett.