Paris Rebirth of Voguing Takes on Political Tinge

Voguing has taken on new meaning for some French youths
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 25, 2018 3:15 PM CDT
1980s Dance Movement Gets Political in Paris
In this July 7, 2017, photo, a voguing ballroom dancer performs on stage during a competition Paris. In garish make-up and dangerously high heels, a black male dancer’s outstretched arms aggressively slice the air in time to the Paris nightclub music until suddenly, he drops “dead” on the floor.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Vogue, the '80s dance movement Madonna popularized in her hit 1990 song of the same name, is experiencing a revival in France. It's not just a flamboyant pastime, per the AP. For many minority French communities who feel alienated over tensions arising from divisive anti-gay marriage protests and the anti-immigration National Front, it's a statement of defiance. Many gay black and Arab youths—especially those from Paris' less affluent and religiously conservative suburbs—see Vogue dance events as safe places in which their racial and sexual identities can be fully expressed without fear of reprisals. France is now the world's biggest voguing hub outside of New York. Talented young dancers and drag queens in outlandish costumes face off in competitions, showing off moves inspired by the poses of fashion models in the pages of Vogue magazine.

The moves were first popularized in 1980s New York during exuberant Vogue Balls that served as a refuge for the black and Latino LGBT community. At a time when the AIDS epidemic in the city fueled homophobia and racism was rife, many found an accepting community in the contests. Today's rise of the National Front, Marine Le Pen's right-wing anti-immigrant party that won a third of votes in France's presidential runoff last year, aggravated many young black Voguers who already felt ostracized. Designer Jean Paul Gaultier, who was invited as a guest jury member at one Paris Vogue contest, mused about the rise of French nationalism. "I think they should give voguing lessons to Marine Le Pen," he said. "That would be a good solution, no?"

(Read more Vogue stories.)

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