Panel judges were picked from the attending crowd, guest performers competed in various categories and emcees also served as unofficial DJs. That’s what you missed at the Vogue Ball last Friday, Oct. 14 — an annual event by SHADES, an on-campus organization serving LGBTQA+ students of color.
This is the second installment of the Vogue Ball, which aims to connect the campus community to local drag and performance culture, as well as create a safe space to explore and enjoy the art of performances. The local drag scene was represented by two guest artists, Paris Lurux and Yvoni Amór. Lurux had been a welcomed guest at the last SHADES event, the Sex Carnival. Although this was her first on-campus event, Amór also brought a mind-blowing performance with powerful dancing and all the splits, kicks and dips one can do. The show also had Derek Jorden, the resident director at Bingham Hall, as their main emcee.
The first category was Butch Queen Realness, which portrays “a gay male that is neither extremely feminine nor extremely masculine and can easily portray both mannerisms,” according to Jorden. Contestants walked from outside of the room to the crowd, before introducing themselves. They were made to “appeal” to the judges for an additional 30 seconds under the strong encouragement of the emcee. The judges gave scores on a scale of 10, with the highest scorer deemed the winner and receiving a commemorated trophy.
The next two categories’ contestants were picked liberally from among the attendees. The first category, a catwalk focusing on outfits, was judged based on the crowds’ loudness. The final two favorites were split between an exacting handmade jumpsuit and a goth matrix-esque outfit, with the winner being the goth fit. Joskarly Fermin Rodriguez, winner of the category and a junior majoring in Italian, described how she prepared for her performance.
“I watched some vogue videos to get an idea of what I could do and the types of dances done,” Rodriguez said. “I listened to the song for my scene a couple times the night before and honestly I just vibed with the music day of. The Vogue Ball was different in the sense that everything was improvised, and no prior practice was really had.”
The Vogue category started with a WandaVision-themed performance, fitting for the Halloween season. An attendee from the crowd and the two guest performers also joined this category, with the attendee being the surprising hidden talent who snatched the trophy.
The Runway category was the closing competition, judged based on the participants’ ability to walk like supermodels. The first few contestants walked with a controlled magnetism and dramatic movements that drew attention to them and their personalities, regardless of their outfits. There was a light-hearted duo performance that portrayed youthful love, and the last participant, who brought a competitive car racing outfit complete with a helmet. This was the only category where the judges gave 10s across the board. Rodriguez spoke about her experience post-show.
“I feel really great, appreciative of SHADES for letting me be a part of this,” Rodriguez said. “I felt like I was simply having fun with my performance.”
A closing lip sync performance was given by Lurux, in which the SHADES E-Board gave her the final trophy as a token of their appreciation. The Vogue Ball closed as a smashing success, especially in creating an intimate atmosphere with little separation between performers, attendees and staff. At any point, someone from the crowd could join the show and earn a trophy.
Harper-Leighton Scott, the vice president of SHADES and a junior majoring in political science, shared her feelings after the event.
“I’m feeling great post-show,” Scott said. “It was a good turnout for the event, everyone enjoyed themselves and there was a lot of support for the student performers. Most of them are new to ballroom culture. It is great to see hard work pay off on something like this.”