For my generation, Ball Culture is something known and experienced through “Paris is Burning”. The famous price winning documentary film portrays the people involved in the scene in the late 80s, the rules of it, but keeps the distance of the anthropologist’s eye.
By starting chronologically where the film ends, the picture book “Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of New York City 1989-1992”, offers a different look on the phenomenon, by being temporally set when balls and voguing gains the attention of the mainstream. Madonna’s single “Vogue” hits the charts in 1990.
The book offers three types of photos: the formal studio portraits by Chantal Regnault in a papier glacé look can be seen today as documents for the relativ fame the protagonists of “Paris is Burning” reached, after they confessed in the film they wanted it so much. Journalistic photos taken at balls and casual-but-posed outdoor snapshots portraits gives a conterpoint, a more spontaneous mise-en-scène of the selves.
In addition to the pictures, interviews with protagonists done for the purpose of the book in the last two years gives an often nostalgic look backward. But most interesting is the introduction text by Tim Lawrence, who describes the late 80s Harlem ball scene as part of a 150 years old tradition.
“Voguing” is currently on discount, you can order it via Soul Jazz’ website, you also find more information about it there. Here are some more preview pictures (via Dummy, (c) Chantal Regnault)