Blu Jay Is A New Face In Australian Drag, Ballroom and Beyond

“Growing up I had a very disciplinary father, I found it suffocating. An ideology I want to take forward is to never feel restrained again.

11 April 2022, 5:23am

Blu Jay has gone by many names. The multidisciplinary Melbourne artist, known for their on-stage performances, has been constantly evolving  alongside their monikers over the last five years. 

Beginning with Jada (a stage name chosen by their mother), taking Blu as their stage name then personal name, but then ending on the stage-name Limerence: each has marked a unique step into full awareness of who they are and how they hope to perform.

Before beginning drag performances in 2018, Blu’s first love was drawing, an intimate and introspective pastime that opened doors to physical performance. It taught them to slow down and be focused on the present moment. Sometimes erotic in nature, Blu’s early work had a heavy focus on liberation - and it’s a running theme throughout everything they’ve done.

“Growing up as a kid with a very stringent and disciplinary father, I found it suffocating,” Blu told VICE 

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“I’d only really started finding myself in my late teens. I think an ideology I wanted to take forward is to never feel restrained again. We live once and I want to experience the world at its full velocity.”

Blu Jay by Rose Pure

Since embracing drag in 2018, Blu has been using the discipline to explore their feminine side under the name Jada. As Blu grew and realised Jada didn’t fully encapsulate who they were, they took on the new stage name “Limerence”.

“I was watching a documentary on psychology,” Blu said. 

“There was a psychologist named Dorothy Tenov who coined a term: you have lust, you have limerence and then love.” For Blu, Limerence symbolised that journey from lust to love, bridging the two emotions, it also meant they were still on a journey to finding the latter.

I’ve had the privilege of sitting in on many of Blu’s performances, including a recent show at Sydney Festival Soft Centre. The performance - which saw Blu begin as a tree nymph before transforming into a character surrounded in flames - ends with a slowed-down version of “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley and The Wailers, under a single spotlight. It was a performance about emotion and finding oneself, with a moment of self-soothing at the end. 

Recently, Blu was one of the only performers to walk Bizarre – where contestants are judged on the creativity of their costumes – in Australia’s Olympics of Ballroom: Sissy Ball. Decorated in a lobster-esque costume, they walked ethereally down the runway, show-goers cooing from the sidelines. 

It was just one part of Blu’s latest endeavours that saw them introduced into the House of Silky, a ballroom collective holding some of Australia’s best performers. According to Blu, since their integration in the middle of 2021 it has been a “crazy journey” -  rubbing shoulders with cultures and communities they’d never touched on before.

Blu is a local celebrity in both Sydney and Melbourne, though it’s a title they thoroughly disown. Performance, for them, does not rotate around a concept of self-gratification. Instead, it’s a give and take relationship with the crowd that holds meaning and responsibility.

“We do it for ourselves: performance, ballroom, drag. But at the root of it, if we’re getting on stage solely for ourselves, I find that to be a little bit selfish,” they said.

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 “I think we all want to share something with the world and there’s a responsibility in presenting that to people.”

When I ask Blu where they see themselves heading in the future, and whether performance will be something they do forever, their answer is quite simple.

“I have no idea. I just hope I’m happy with whatever I’m doing.” 

Follow Julie Fenwick on Twitter and Instagram.

Read more from VICE Australia.

Tagged:

Australia, DRAG, melbourne, Ballroom, Blu Jay, House of Silky

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