Gapers Block Blog: Chicago’s Ball Scene

Jan 21, 2011 · 16366 views

by only-connect on Flickr

It’s a snowy December night on the South Side and the ballroom has filled up quickly. There are guys in tailored suits, girls in red-heeled Louboutins. There are pop-gothy capes and futuristic glasses. The crowd is gathered around a catwalk — and everyone is young, black and queer.

This is a ball. An underground LGBTQ contest where participants compete by “walking” — showing off themed outfits and voguing — a stylized house dance that continues to evolve. They are competing for trophies and the hope to become “legendary” — famous not only in Chicago but the entire community, which now spans the globe. Balls found fame with Paris is Burning, a documentary about the New York scene, but Chicago’s had its own ball circuit for as long as New York — one that has its own trends, culture and history. And as the Internet popularizes the community, Chicago is seeing another wave in the resurgence of balls.

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