Strike A Pose! LGBTQ Balls Thrive on Chicago’s South Side

It’s a snowy December night
on the South Side
and the ballroom has
filled up quickly.

There are guys in tailored suits, girls in red-heeled Louboutins. There are pop-gothy capes and futuristic glasses. The crowd is gathered around a catwalk — and everyone is young, black and queer.

This is a ball. An underground LGBTQ contest where participants compete by “walking” — showing off themed outfits and voguing — a stylized house dance that continues to evolve. They are competing for trophies and the hope to become “legendary” — famous not only in Chicago but the entire community, which now spans the globe. Balls found fame with Paris is Burning, a documentary about the New York scene, but Chicago’s had its own ball circuit for as long as New York — one that has its own trends, culture and history. And as the Internet popularizes the community, Chicago is seeing another wave in the resurgence of balls.

An awesome article by Rachel Rabbit White. (with photos by Edmund X. White.), ran this week on GAPERS BLOCK about the scene happening on Chicago’s South Side!

The competition is ferocious. Grade Fs are flipped easily from the judges table. A dancer doesn’t need to just be spectacular, but adhere perfectly to the rules of the category. The wrong color in your outfit and you are out — chopped! Ball Houses are necessary for competition. At the December Ball, the crowd chanted their house name in time with the DJ. When one of their members walked, the room filled with “E-vis-u, E-vis-u.” This way the judges know if someone from their house is walking — no one denies nepotism has its place.

The next Chicago ball everyone is abuzz about is in March; it’s a best-of-the-year for the 40 major balls held in 2010 across the Midwest. There is now about a ball a month in Chicago and more and more kids keep getting turned on to the movement. Chicago’s ballroom scene would do best to forget about competing with New York, and own being the destination for a majority of the country — the place where all of the ball kids nearby look for inspiration and direction.

Read the full article now !