Review Of Humble: The Vogue Party

On September 9th, I attended the Humble vogue party at the Datcha Bar at Mile End in Montreal. The flyer reads “HUMBLE” is a party and platform created by and for creatives of the African diaspora and queer artists of color”. The party (or It) featured Djs Chivengi, Tati au Miel, Glowzi and Odile Myrtil and other local performers. Together, who presented vogue music styles called bounce and (another style). The small venue with about six two-seats tables was lit by dim red lighting and a slightly brighter spotlight on the DJ booth.

In mainstream media, most associate the ballroom scene with Madonna’s 1990 hit song “Vogue”. In comparison to the Humble party, Madonna’s video feels inauthentic. It is a shame that she is deemed responsible for popularizing the style, when to me, she capitalized off a community that was built from oppression. Historically, vogue houses were a gateway for disenfranchised Black and Latino LGBT persons. Due to society’s rejection, they created their own families in vogues Houses. This beautiful style comes from The Harlem Renaissance Period. However, it was not an equally attractive period for this group of people. The need for safe relief emerged from the HIV crisis and social inequality. Killed, witnessed brother since less protected through healthcare (source). Vogue became their escape. Although elegance is present in Madonna’s music video, it lacks the innate sassiness and attitude, especially in her own dancing. I do appreciate how ethnically diverse the dancers were but I cannot help but feel like they were used as props. In comparison, Humble felt communal and rooted in the true essence of vogue. Madonna’s video does not compare to Humble or any vogue balls in general. To remain on topic and refer to actual vogue: A better reference is RuPaul’s 1993 “Supermodel” which depicts the Vogue Ballroom identity is the visual accompanying the song. Cut this in half and add another comparison or elaborate on Ru Paul’s video.

Most of the attendees were black LGBT youth, who originally are the creators of vogue culture. Because it was more of a vogue party, rather than a voguing competition, there was only about 60 people present, but we filled up the whole bar. Much like vogue culture itself, the event was informal. It was more of a party than a show, with everyone voguing all around. Instead of sitting at the small tables, people used them as dancing props. They joined the DJs on the stage, shouting things in the mic. Carefree is the perfect word to describe the ambiance. The cheap drinks and the friendly atmosphere made for a stress-free escape. Everyone seemed to know each other, although it was a big crowd. This shows that the Black LGBT youth in Montreal is a closely bonded community. No matter how many of these soirées we attend, we always feel the same way; free to expression, escaping the outside world, connecting with the accepting family created within this group. This is a direct reflection of vogue culture, which still serves as shelter and community for this marginalized group. The culture extends past the underground group as it influences modern hip hop, trends in language and fashion. Also add that though they may seem non-inclusive, these parties geared towards a certain group are necessary to preserve the authenticity of the music and prevent it from being snatched by the vultures. Also how it affects fashion and lingo.

The magnificent pleasing aesthetic aspect of Humble was the costumes. I only dare to refer to the avant-garde outfits of the partakers as such because unfortunately, some only feel safe dressing up this way at such events. During these parties, true expression is revealed. Gender conformity does not exist, only fashion does. The safe-space makes men feel comfortable to wear makeup, dresses, skirts, crop tops, and heels. Humble provided a space for women to temporarily are not subjected be free from societal sexualization and pressures of femininity as they freely wore close to nothing or even conventionally masculine attire. The outfits are fashion forwards and extravagant. Introduce this better. In fact, famous poet Langston Hughes referred to vogue events as “spectacles in color”. This accurately represents one of the most important aspect of the art of vogue; fashion.

Although I am a cisgender woman, as a fan of vogue familiar with its Montreal community, I hope to have accurately represented this culture. Without overstepping, I am confident that throughout this critique I incited interest for this group of creatives and highlighted its cultural importance.

18 May 2020
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