By combining the counter-cultural inclusion of vogueing with the indigenous spirits of the Pacific, FAFSWAG creates new spaces for Maori and Pacific LGBTQI communities, writes artist from the collective Pati Solomona Tyrell. The next Vogue Ball will be on August 25 at K Road's Raynham Park Studios. Photographer Jermaine Dean was there last time to capture what went down.
Aotearoa’s Vogue scene occupies a precarious coming of age space, continually finding its voice within the global language of ballroom culture. Cautious not to appropriate African American and Hispanic cultural forms, our scene continues to be inspired by OG ballroom culture in ways that have seen young, Māori and Pacific LGBTQI+ communities interpret the culture through their own lived experiences, and still remain inclusive for our other diverse communities living in diaspora.
We’re finally arriving at a place now where we hope to add to the culture. The global framework of ballroom culture has offered much refuge to the disenfranchised and socially outcast. It has been a dream and future goal of the collective to one day host the legendary icons from the birthplace of vogue—the New York City ballroom scene. Aitu Ball is one of those steps towards nurturing our community in ways that are relevant and grow the space so that we can offer a genuine cultural exchange and finally connect from our isolated corner of the world.
One of our categories in previous FAFSWAG Balls has been the category ‘POLY TYPICAL’. It’s designed to bring out the indigenous context that underpins Aotearoa’s Vogue scene. Aitu Ball does a deep-dive on this concept and invokes the spirit of the gods and the ancestral connections to the elements to create a world where these identities can be inhabited.
The last Aitu Ball saw this context interpreted by the local Auckland community in breathtaking ways that saw the community live their best lives. This year I’m looking forward to reviving the premise for another visceral feast of ‘looks’ for the floor, but also offer safe space for our people to share in solidarity. We’re excited to be partnering with VICE, Redbull, NZAF, PBT and K Road Business Association to bring this winter ball to fruition. FAFSWAG artist, voguer and photographer Jermaine Dean documented the last Aitu Ball and created this series of images showcasing our community.