Voguing in Berlin

photo: Denis Koone Kuhnert

Berlin is dynamic, Berlin loves to dance and Berlin loves to Vogue. So it comes as no surprise that the Voguing scene of Berlin is becoming more and more popular.

Originally from New York’s queer scene, Voguing is inspired by fashion runways. Exaggerated movements are being turned into fierce, strong, overacted self-presentations. The participants of the scene divide themselves into different “houses”, which are more of a family substitute than just a dance crew.

photo: Valerie-Siba Rousparast

Since it is all about opposing societal oppression, Voguing dancers maintain a close connection and often know each other from events, even though they live in different parts of the world. The events are a safe space in which everyone can be themselves. No matter what minority you identify with, there won’t be any judgment in this scene, except for your dance.

photo: Denis Koone Kuhnert

Voguing events usually involve judges, who give critique to the participants and also decide, which of the dancers win, when there is a battle. The dance can be presented in different styles. One of the main ones is Old-Way. This was created before the 1990s and is characteristically based on very symmetrical, straight and precise movements. After that “New-Way” evolved, which is more about the perfection of miming geometric shapes, bringing arms and hands into the right angle and moving them really fast in a manner that sometimes reminds you of oriental belly-dancer’s hand moves that are sensual and also to complex to ever fully understand as a viewer.

photo: Carmel Koster

After those two styles, “Vogue-Fem” was developed, which is all about celebrating femininity. The motions are soft, round, sensual and a lot of the specific moves are inspired by ballet and modern dance. The last of the main categories of Voguing ist “Runway”, inspired by fashion runways, models on high heels and dramatic turns that look even more exciting, since most dancers present them costumized.

Some of you might remember that Madonna video “Vogue”. Of course she was not the inventor, rather a late copycat, but nevertheless this might paint a picture.

All of the different styles require a lot of intensive training. So, it was probably just a matter of time until Voguing dance classes were created, like you can find them at several dance schools in Berlin, for example motion*s, where Zero Melody teaches Vogue Fem.

The German Ballroom community is mostly centered around Düsseldorf and Berlin, where you can find regular events, classes and of course the balls that are held to bring Voguing dancers from everywhere together and celebrate their power.

Empowerment is, after all, the most important part of the dance, since Voguing is all about creating a safe space for everyone that is being discriminated and repressed by white hetereonormative supremacy.

photo: Denis Koone Kuhnert

Since the 80s the dance has become more and more popular and the balls that were once held in dark and shady subcultural clubs are now often celebrated in big establishments as the Hebbel Theater or the Radialsystem V.

Nevertheless the small events still exist and will hopefully always, because they are the ones that are mostly open for queer people of colour. This is not about exclution, since everyone is welcome to vogue, but still it is important to many from the scene that there are and will be spaces that make them feel safe and they would otherwise not have, whilst cis white hetero dancers can basically feel safe in every event, since they belong to the majority and don’t have to fear judgements regarding their heritage, look or sexual identity.

photo: Denis Koone Kuhnert

I recently attended one of those more intimate events in Berlin called “Come Extra Fly Voguing Session”, which will be a recurring thing. It was held at The Club, which was basically too small to not be overcrowded and overheated in seconds. But the heat was real and, if you would like to participate, watch or just party at a Voguing event, you will not be disappointed in Berlin. There are several groups on Facebook for active members of the Voguing society, which will inform you about upcoming balls, workshops and classes. Also, check out the Facebook page of the Voguing Festival Berlin Voguing Out.

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