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Van Vogue Jam Arts Society

VAN VOGUE JAM is a vancouver-based community organization that offers weekly pay-what-you-can/by-donation vogue classes. VVJ was founded by Ralph Escamillan who is a queer Canadian-Fillipinx movement and performance artist and part of the International House of Amazon lead by the Legendary Leiomy Maldonado. Through the facilitation of his weekly classes, Ralph strives to share his knowledge and experience of vogue and the culture behind it, creating a new safe accessible spaces for LGBTQIA2+ POC in Vancouver.

Vogue and Ballroom culture emerged in the 1930s and 40s in New York City, birthed by the Black and Latinx LGBTQ2S+ community who were excluded from the pageant (and every day) world of America. The development of the Ballroom scene created safe and inclusive spaces for these communities to explore and experience life styles from which they were excluded due to systemic oppression.

Vogue can be categorised into 3 main styles. Pre-80s early Voguing, called “Old Way”, directly emulated the glamour and posing of high-fashion models in Vogue Magazine and showcases direct influences from popping and breaking. The style exploded when Madonna famously popularized the dance style in her music video for “Vogue”. The second style “New Way” is an evolution of “Old Way” introducing elements of contortion while maintaining linear and rigid shapes.  The last, and most recent, vogue style is “Vogue Femme”. This form was created and popularized by Black trans-women in the Vogue scene as a response to the the hyper masculine world of “Old Way” and “New Way” Voguing. Vogue Femme since then has also grown to further diverges into the two branches of “Soft and Kunt” and the highly popularized “Dramatics”.

“For decades, ballroom, ball or house culture has been a way for queer blacks and Latinos to live their best lives – that is, to figure out how to respond to a society that devalued their lives and attempted to erase their presence. Through elaborate performances incorporating and commenting on race, class and gender, the ball community has historically reflected the American Dream and one’s exclusion from it.” - Les Fabian Brathwaith (Quote from Rolling Stone article)

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