What does it take to become a legend? We hear that word thrown around a lot, to the point where we're all legendary at our own lunches these days. But in the world of ballroom and voguing, "legend" has a very specific meaning: it's a status in the social hierarchy only achieved after years of hard work, constantly proving oneself at competitions, and graduating beyond the lower statuses of "star" and "statement."
When it comes to soundtracking the ever-developing ballroom scene, names don't come more legendary than Vjuan Allure. The prolific DJ, remixer and producer is behind the "Allure Ha," the track that helped to define the modern ballroom sound. With releases under his belt for Mad Decent, Night Slugs, Hot Mom USA and many more, Allure is about to drop his fantastic new EP Wherkk on the Southern Californian label KNIGHTWERK. (Preview the EP above.)
Wherkk is the latest milestone in Allure's long career, which kicked off in the late 80s when he made it his mission to sneak into New York City's seminal nightclubs even before he reached the legal age limit. Allure quickly became a fixture in the scene; in fact, he was even in Junior Vasquez's Sound Factory the night Madonna came down and picked up voguers Jose and Luis Xtravaganza for her videos and tour.
"It was amazing to be so young and, during the day, your mindset is hip-hop—Salt'n'Pepa, Big Daddy Kane," Allure tells THUMP. "But you turn around and see these [hip-hop] people in the club at night, housing... I mean, dancing, battling. Kid'n'Play, Super Lover Cee & Casanova Rud, they were dancing to house music."
Unlike many other ballroom DJs, the city that had the biggest effect on Allure's fledging appetite for voguing wasn't New York—it was Washington DC. Specifically, a massive gay nightclub called Tracks. "It blew my mind," Allure recalls. "The combination of what DJ Mike was playing and what Sedrick was saying on the mic drove those people crazy. The music was very minimal, house-y techno, weird stuff you would never hear Junior or anyone play in New York. Stuff like DJ Rush 'Looking For Excitement,' Lil Louis 'Blackout,' and M1 'Dynomite.'"
It wasn't until Allure moved to Italy as an exchange student that he started to DJ and produce tracks. But it wasn't the music that got Vjuan noticed—it was his dancing. "As soon as I stepped in the club people wanted to see what I was doing," Allure says. Eventually word got around to the well-respected Italian DJ collective Angels Of Love. "One night at a huge venue, me and a friend were dancing. We had cleared a big circle around us, and [Angels Of Love] tapped us on the shoulder and said, 'Come up here, do it on the stage!'" By the end of the night, Allure was a part of the crew.
Initially, Angels Of Love just wanted Vjuan to take control of the mic and play hip-hop at their parties. But he insisted on DJing, and worked tribal and "cunty" house into his sets. Allure also started to produce his own music, sending his early productions and edits back to DJ Sedrick in the States, where, unbeknownst to him, his tracks were causing a sensation on the ballroom scene.
A decade later, Vjuan had established himself as the premier ballroom DJ in America, gaining props from producers all over the globe, and turning a new generation of dancers and listeners to vogue culture through Soundcloud, YouTube and parties like Vogue Knights at Escuelita in New York City. Not for Vjuan are the same old samples and tired clichés that have come to dominate ballroom of late. The Wherkk EP takes in a broad spectrum of influences, from classic dancehall and DC go-go percussion, to Jersey Club-style breaks and even early 90s hardcore rave stabs.
As well as coming with a host of remixes from the likes of Slick Shoota, Helix, Taste Tester and DJ Sega, the title track "Wherkk" features guest vocals from Los Angeles' Purple Crush, themselves well-respected on the West Coast for their regular Banjee Ball parties. Purple Crush, along with MC Enyce Channel, will be hosting a very special Banjee Ball on Friday February 20th with a set from Vjuan himsef to celebrate the launch of the EP. Now that is how you do legendary.