Voguing is everywhere and Germany is one of the places in Europe where the ballroom culture is currently on fire. A scene rich of creative houses, fierce dancers and an environment of friendship and love is how we can describe it. But there is no better choice for someone to tell us how it works than a native: our dearest friend Felix Canditt, from the Kiki House of Ego, brings us this insight about the country and what we can expect from the deutsch voguers. Check it out:
Voguing is a reason to travel and it connects people. This is how I met Pedro, from BH is Voguing, at a ball in Berlin in November 2014. I showed him a good German restaurant in Berlin (yes, that exists) and we talked a lot about voguing. We stayed in touch, and soon after Pedro asked me to tell him more about voguing in Germany, and the rest is history!
Allow me to introduce myself first: I am Felix and I live in Berlin. After watching Paris Is Burning, I discovered that Berlin too offers voguing classes and functions. I began training in Vogue Fem in October 2014 and soon after, I became a member of the first Kiki House in Germany, Kiki House of Ego (A Kiki House is a Voguing House for beginners that is focused on training and fun. One can be member both of a Kiki House and of a “real” Voguing House). Kiki House of Ego was created by Zero Melody in the beginning of 2015 and grew to have 12 members today. Once, at a function, I heard someone say “Voguing is like gay football!”, and that pretty much described how I feel about the dance itself, and the atmosphere at voguing functions. I feel like I found my type of game and can go crazy at a voguing ball, as a football fan goes crazy at a game.
The parents of my Kiki House are Kitchen and Princess Ego. Kitchen is part of the House of UltraOmni, where she is Helen UltraOmni, Princess is member of House of Melody, as Zero Melody. The House of Melody is Germany’s first Voguing House with 14 members in Düsseldorf, Cologne, Paris and Berlin and was founded by Mother Leo Melody in 2012. In the same year, Leo Melody organized the first German voguing festival with Mic Oala under the name of Berlin Voguing Out. Ever since, the House of Melody and Berlin Voguing Out have organized regular classes, workshops, panel discussions and balls all over Germany, especially in Berlin and Düsseldorf. Thanks to their hard and passionate work, voguing has gained attention in Germany and a voguing community has since developed.
But that was not enough. I don’t know what exactly happened last year in Germany, but voguing spread like wildfire. First of all, members of House of Melody created three Kiki Houses: Ego, Gyva and Hanichu. While Kiki House of Gyva is not active at the moment, Kiki House of Hanichu has had 26 members spread over Düsseldorf, Krefeld and Bochum (west of Germany) since December 2015. In Hamburg, Father Domi and Mother Junx gave birth to eight voguing kids in October 2015 and founded Kiki House of Twinkle. In April 2016, Kiki House of Angels from Rotterdam invaded in Germany and declared their German Chapter with Mothers Sattva in Hamburg and Zueira in Berlin. Finally, Germany has a second Voguing House now: House of LaConya was announced by Father J.J. and Mother Olga in December 2015, with 12 members in Erlangen and Nürnberg (south of Germany). So let’s just say that so much has happened within the last year in Germany’s voguing community.
That was an overview of German Houses. Now let’s take a look at the voguing community in Germany in general. Compared to the scenes in New York and Paris, the German voguing community is still rather small and not based on a LGBTQ people of colour community. However, there are regular voguing classes and balls where people can gain experience and familiarize themselves with their future obsession called voguing. What I find remarkable about the German voguing community is that it combines people of diverse dance backgrounds with those who have never danced before. Beginner categories are often organized at balls, which gives fresh voguers courage to participate soon after they began practicing. Also, German voguers come in all sorts of shades and shapes. Amongst which you can even find me and another ginger boy, can you imagine?! 😉
Berlin could still be considered to be the voguing capital in Germany as it holds the most classes and functions. Apart from the big annual Berlin Voguing Out Festival, Berlin Voguing Out organizes the smaller Tit Bit Balls at the venue Südblock in Berlin every few months. In April 2016, Germany had its first Kiki Function (a ball with less categories where it is more about trying out and having fun), which was thrown in Berlin by Zueira Mizrahi Angels. Last but not least, Zueira Mizrahi and Lucy Liu Ninja introduced Come Extra Fly Voguing Session in June 2016, a bi-monthly voguing session in Berlin in a chilled environment. In the German capital, you can find members of Kiki Houses of Ego, Angels and Juicy, as well as representatives of Houses of Melody, Zorra, Prodigy, UltraOmni, Ninja and Mizrahi.
Nevertheless, the House of Melody has held functions in Düsseldorf and Cologne, too. Hamburg had its first ball in 2014, created by House of Lazer, which was founded in Hamburg in 2012 and closed in early 2016. Most voguing events are organized by House of Melody and Berlin Voguing Out, so you could say that the German voguing community is still focused on certain characters and places. In addition to voguing balls, voguing is represented at urban dance battle events like Funkin’ Stylez, where voguing was introduced in 2008.
Regular categories at German balls are Runway, Sex Siren, Old Way, New Way and Vogue Fem. To me it seems that the most popular categories in Germany are: Runway, New Way and Vogue Fem. So far, you have also been able to see categories such as Face, Hands Performance, as well as Runway in Drag and for Butch Queens up in Pumps. Unlike in the bigger and more differentiated voguing scenes in New York or Paris, realness categories as well as specifically themed runway and performance categories (e.g. Best Dressed or Female Figure Performance) are not represented in Germany yet.
Right now, there are more and more participants walking at German functions and the level is rising. Thanks to organizers like the House of Melody and Berlin Voguing Out, the voguing culture is being spread and promoted in Germany. The work of the organizers has significantly promoted exchange within the international voguing community. German balls are becoming more international and German voguers are now traveling to functions more than ever. During Berlin Voguing Out Festival in December 2015, more than ten nations were represented at the Jingle Ball. Also, bringing out Vogue legends, especially at the Berlin Voguing Out events, is one of the biggest contributions of the local organizers to the community. Archie Burnett, Grandfather of House of Ninja, has supported the German voguing community since the beginning. Germany has welcomed voguing legends like Aviance Milan, DJ Vjuan Allure, Lasseindra Ninja and Stephane Mizrahi, too.
One lady who has seen voguing developing in Germany from the start is Miss Andra, who is also known as Zueira in the voguing community. Having a dance background especially in Dancehall, she started to vogue when Mother Leo Melody held her first workshops in Berlin in 2011 and participated at the first German ball in the same year. Ever since, she has not only walked at most functions in Germany, but also in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Paris and London. Andra was part of House of Lazer. She lately became member of the Iconic House of Mizrahi (Paris chapter) and one of two Mothers of the German chapter of Kiki House of Angels.
Andra’s category is Sex Siren. She told me that she knows about her feminine curves because people keep on commenting them, and if you ask me, it is hard to ignore these assets. However, she loves to exaggerate her femininity in ballroom and push it to its limits in her category: “You wanted to see the femme fatale, now you get it!”, she says.
While discussing the local voguing scene, Andra expressed that in the future she hopes for more diversity, for a wider range of categories and for the scene to be closer to its roots. She would love to see people focusing on categories that are not represented in Germany yet, like realness categories. In her opinion, a deeper connection to the international voguing scene and more international Houses represented in Germany would give new input and knowledge to German voguers. “I’m learning so much from the Mizrahis already!”, she says. Andra also appreciates that voguing created a space in Germany for her and everyone else to feel free, beautiful and express oneself while keeping it positive and in a good vibe. “No big shade needed (yet), cause it’s about love here!“, Andra expresses.
First German House, first German ball, first German Kiki Function… Voguing keeps on having all kinds of premieres in Germany. I believe that Germany is a good place for a voguing community to develop, preserving the original concept of voguing but adding a certain flavour. I am curious to see how it will develop in the future!
Written by Felix Canditt, of Kiki House of Ego
Highlighted picture: Jingle Ball at the Berlin Voguing Out 2015. Photo by Homardpayette