The House of Suarez Vogue Ball returns to Manchester with an underwater themed dance spectacular. We met with Darren Suarez, Father and Mother of the House of Suarez and founder of the annual event, now in its 12th year.
Where did the concept originate?
Darren: “Voguing is a dance style that originated in New York in the 70s and 80s. Being black, Latino and gay was dangerous at that time, with many individuals living on the streets, getting into drugs or prostitution. Drag Queens and older Queens in New York took these kids off the streets into their homes to keep them safe. As a way of giving back, the kids took the name of the Queens, and became members of that Vogue House”.
So what is voguing all about?
Darren: “Voguing is dance style involving formations to do with posing: For example, recreating famous model poses on the cover of Vogue magazine, or of Queens and Pharaohs in Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs. The style started in Harlem ballrooms in the early 1960s, and over the years has evolved into something far more intricate and acrobatic. “Voguing, and in particular the Ball, offers a platform to every walk of life and every age, and allows you to release your inner diva! The ball is essentially an extravaganza of costume and class, dance and drama!”
How did you first become involved on the Vogue scene?
Darren: “I first became inspired by the culture when visiting gay clubs in Liverpool during the 80s. I fell in love with due to its free expression. As I pursued a career as a professional dancer and choreographer, I broadened my vocabulary of the different vogue elements. In 2006, I set up my company House of Suarez and through that developed my own choreographic and signature movement, and have been running the Vogue Ball since then!”
Tell us more about the Vogue Ball at the Manchester Academy – what can we expect?
Darren: “The Ball this year is taking inspiration from the watery world of Atlantis and it’s the biggest event we have put on yet! I picked the Atlantis theme because of all the news about environmental impact of plastic in our oceans; and with the recent the launch of the DC Comics film ‘Aquaman’ it seemed such a topical subject. Also, the mystery of Atlantis is something that makes us thing about fantastical images about mermaids and hidden underwater cities, which lends itself to lots of creativity around this theme and to some amazing costumes!
“This year the ball is bigger and fiercer with a lot more sass, with a bigger runway that we have had before, and all things nautical but nice! The Ball is built around five categories which Vogue Houses will compete in: Fantasy, Solo, Lip Sync, Sex Siren and Choreography”.
Who will be performing?
Darren: “The House of Suarez is very unique in that we fuse vogue with other genres of dance and theatre to create the event. Most of the houses performing are from UK, and also from Holland. We encourage the houses to explore the varied styles of vogue, as well as other dance influences or theatre. I am really proud of the opening piece which I have choreographed which gives a really good introduction to both the theme and what to expect from the rest of the night”.
What does the winner receive as a prize?
Darren: “The categories are scrutinised by an esteemed panel of judges, from professional dance backgrounds, key figures from voguing culture, and others in the public eye. The winner of each category receives a trophy and obviously all the kudos in the vogue scene that goes along with that!”
What sort of music will be accompanying the dancers?
Darren: “The vogue style goes really well with house music. The houses mix their own music to enable them to tell a story through each piece of performance”.
Is there anything else you would like to say about the show and are tickets still available?
Darren: “This Vogue Ball will be creative and flamboyant and will exude the most enthusiastic energy from performers and audience alike. We are bringing some of the best voguers and choreographers around who I know are going to pull out all the stops to be as outrageous and outstanding as possible. Manchester is in for quite a night!”
House of Suarez and Contact Vogue Ball 2020, Ball of Atlantis is at Manchester Academy 1 on 29 Feb 2020. See website for details.