“The whole idea is, I’m fierce and I know it,” Archie Burnett said of the dance style known as vogueing, which he has performed for decades. But don’t confuse that with self-indulgence: “It’s not for your benefit,” he said. “It’s for the camera’s benefit.”
The camera he refers to is metaphorical: Vogueing began as an imitation of models in fashion magazines and on runways. It is part communal tradition, part competition, part personal statement. And occasionally it surfaces as a mainstream pop-culture phenomenon, too — including this summer (just ask Channing Tatum).
Vogueing first strutted into the mainstream in the early ’90s with Jennie Livingston’s documentary “Paris Is Burning” and the music video for Madonna’s “Vogue.” The film showcased the dance as a central feature of the underground Harlem ballroom scene, populated primarily by black and Latino gay men, a scene that blossomed in the 1980s and has roots reaching back decades.
In 1990, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, the community organization Gay Men’s Health Crisis gave a party called the Latex Ball with the goal of distributing health information to denizens of the ballroom scene, who were hit hard by the disease. On Saturday, the Latex Ball celebrates its 25th anniversary at Terminal 5 in Hell’s Kitchen.