Voguing — A Cry for Freedom That Inspired the Fashion World and Beyond

The Storytellers

Voguing — A Cry for Freedom That Inspired the Fashion World and Beyond

A declaration of freedom, a call for revolution, and a practice that started out as an expression cultivated by marginalized communities, people of color and LGBT people in the early 50s and 60s New York, popularized by young gay men in the 80s, relatively quickly found its way to the mainstream and pop culture. It went on to be “introduced” to the larger public by Madonna in her influential video for her 1990 single Vogue.


Easily recognizable for the flamboyancy of its movement and the act of a dancer freezing one’s body in a pose, voguing began as a method of expressing freedom of movement and creativity in closed, safe quarters went on to inspire numerous artists and filmmakers, as well as LGBT culture and mainstream American culture in general. It became a recognizable dance of the late 20th century. A celebration of difference, a cry for liberation in a world that was not yet ready to accept and open itself up to understanding, voguing was practiced as part of the Harlem ballroom scene for decades before becoming appropriated for the masses. The 1990s documentary Paris is Burning explores the lives of social outcasts, marginalized and ostracized gay, trans, black, and latino groups who band together in a world of temporary make-believe, competing, as it were, in various categories ranging from drag shows to dancing, as a means of dealing with their difficult and often inevitable fate.

Inspired by outlandish, yet famous editorial modeling poses on the pages of Vogue, voguing has as a dance gone full circle in its long history. Having over several decades developed into three distinct styles with countless poses, movements, and techniques, it is no longer practiced only within the LGBT community. It is taught in courses worldwide and perfected competitively. Voguing and other aspects of the ballroom scene have gone to inspire and give prominence to drag culture (which has itself gone to become part of the mainstream pop culture in recent years, and have given back the world of fashion in numerous ways.

Trends, colors, patterns, and most importantly — the attitude exhibited by fierce competitors in the old ballroom competitions have over the years found themselves back on the pages of Vogue and other fashion magazines. Voguing has given the fashion world more poses it could have ever offered them for initial inspiration. Some of the most popular artists in the world today use voguing in their dance routines. FKA Twigs trained under the watchful eye of the voguing legend Jamel Prodigy, and even Rihanna has not been able to resist its alluring power to uplift the spirit. The influential power of this dance can be witnessed everywhere today — in a music video by some of the world’s biggest pop superstars like Beyonce, dance choreographies in Hollywood musicals, in a fashion or performance show, or back on the runway from whence it once came.

Article by: Nikola Lindenberg

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