The first "Balls" were created in the 70s, early 80s, in the poor neighborhood Harlem in New York. Here gays and transgender people from the black and latino community tried to escape from the discrimination they regularly encountered in their daily lives. Dressed in extravagant robes, fashionable or extreme sexy outfits they indulged their fantasies in small discrete venues. Under the thumping sounds of instrumental disco or house, they started a battle together in the dance style “Vogue”.
Voguing is a style of dancing in which you imitate various poses of models that often grace the cover of the magazine Vogue. Striking about this dance are the geometric and stylized movements of arms and legs and the fragmentary walking along an imaginary catwalk. More extreme, yoga-like postures are also used. The elegant way of changing poses creates the illusion of a fluid body. Voguing consists of 5 elements: duckwalk, catwalk, hands, floorwork, and spins and dips.
The participants in these "Vogue battles" formed "Houses". Close clans with names such as House of Ebony, House of Aviance or House of Xtravaganza. The Houses are led by "mothers" and "fathers". Mostly older members (drag queens, gay men or transgender people) from the ballroom scene who offer guidance and support for their House "children". For example, they care about young people who have been evicted by their parents and help them prepare for the Balls, where they will compete against other Houses.
At the Balls, the Houses "walk" (compete) against each other and are judged on dance skills (Voguing), costumes, appearance and attitude. Participants dress according to the category in which they compete and are expected to display appropriate "authenticity". The largest Balls last no less than ten hours, with dozens of categories on one evening. With fewer spectators almost everyone is represented. Some trophies are 3.7 m tall and a top prize winner can earn $ 1,000 or more. While some competitive "walks" involve crossdressing, in others the goal is to emphasize the masculinity of a male participant or the femininity of a female participant as a parody of heterosexuality.