Video: Glamorous gay dance scene a 'family' affair

By
msnbc.com
updated 9/24/2011 7:17:15 AM ET 2011-09-24T11:17:15

Voguing, drag queens and strutting on the runway — they're all part of a vibrant dance scene in the gay community where performers battle it out in competitions known as "balls." Participants perform in categories ranging from prettiest face to most bizarre costume.

This national scene, which traces its roots to the Harlem Renaissance, isn't just about what happens on the dance floor. Competitors are part of teams, known as "houses," and these groups provide family-like support for many of the performers.

The Latex Ball, held in New York City every year, is considered the Academy Awards for this community. Check it out by clicking on the video and slideshow.

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

Photos: 'Pizzazz, magic, fantasy' at New York's Latex Ball

loading photos...
  1. At New York City's annual Latex Ball, drag performers, voguers and fashionistas face off in a variety of spirited competitions. The event, which is sponsored by the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, draws thousands of spectators to Manhattan's Roseland Ballroom.

    In the "Fashion of the World" category, contestants are encouraged to take their inspiration from cultures around the globe and make something truly "bizarre." (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Members of the audience watch performers. Some dance, while others model clothes or compete in categories that demand realistic femininity. (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A drag queen contestant performs in the "Face of Art" category. Participants wear "extreme makeup" and use their faces as a "canvas for exquisite beauty." (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A performer walks in the "Butch Queen European Runway" competition. In this category, contestants look to "the future and outer space" for inspiration. (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Two dancers face off in a vogue battle. (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Spectators and performers pack Manhattan's Roseland Ballroom for the annual Latex Ball. (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Christopher Quarles, aka Afrika, performs in the "Butch Queen European Runway" category. His costume has an extraterrestrial theme. (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. After his competition, Quarles, right, talks on the sidelines with another member of the House of Khan. Performers compete in teams, known as "houses." (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A performer walks in the "Female Figure Performance" category, where contestants were asked to take their inspiration from film. (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A woman shows off her decadent heels in the "Le Gala Haute Couture" category, which requires contestants to don high-fashion labels. (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A drag queen contestant performs in the "Face of Art" category. (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. While some categories at the Latex Ball showcase a performer's dancing ability, others emphasize fashion. In this year's "Female Figure Runway" category, competitors paid homage to royal figures throughout history. (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. In the "Butch Queen Face" category, judges assess a contestant's facial features and consider his overall attractiveness. (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Some categories put a premium on ruggedness. In the "Male Figure Realness" category, the key to winning is to look like a typical "school boy." (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A contestant shows off her physique in the "Women's Body" category. (Drew Katchen / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments