Movement: Vogue

Jennie Livingston’s ‘Paris is Burning’ , was aired in 1991, it was a documentary film which captured the lives of drag queens, transgenders and gay community. It mainly focused on the New York ballroom’s of the subculture 1980s which were predominately African American or Hispanic. For individuals who felt ostracised from society because to their sexual orientation or their gender, would be accepted into ‘Houses’, in which they would be considered as family. These Houses would compete against each other for trophies for dancing, walking or voguing taking inspiration from the fashion world. It was a place where individuals could be their flamboyant selves and not be shunned or ridiculed, it was a place of refuge, which became incredibly important to these communities.

In 1999, Rolling Stone voted Madonna’s Vogue as the second best music video of all time, just behind Thriller by Michael Jackson. Madonna took the Vogue dance craze that was popular in the LGBT and drag ballroom scene of the late 80’s in New York and combined this with a hollywood glamour style. With its striking back and white bold visuals it is definitely considered one of the most iconic music videos of all time. However because of Vogue’s use of this dance craze there was a great deal controversy around it. Cultural appropriation has been an issue particularly with in 20th century dance, such as Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus twerking in their music videos which originated with in the Black communities in New Orleans. The main objection toward this video are the obvious reasons, it was a white straight woman adopting Black, Hispanic, trans, gay and drag culture to further her own career. This is really enforced when considering her publicity stunt much later at the MTV Awards in 2003, when Madonna kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on stage, televised live just for a publicity stunt as it stole the headlines for several months afterward and is still discussed even today.

As there were not any computers at the time and documentary did well but was not a huge hit at the time, not everyone knew about the origins of Voguing and so Madonna’s use of vogue choreography and dancers ultimately became ‘her thing’. She never gave any acknowledgment or an open or public thanks to this community. In all honesty, I personally had no idea that this is where it originated from and I don’t think a lot of the young members of the LGBT community know this either. I believed it was Madonna’s creation from her video.I have still seen people voguing in gay bars and clubs, not knowing at the time what it really was, so it is still very important and relevant even in today’s dance culture.


Clark, A. (2015). Burning down the house: why the debate over Paris is Burning rages on. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].

Connolly, N. (2013). The Quietus | Opinion | Black Sky Thinking | Strike A Pose? Voguing, Ballroom & Cultural Appropriation. [online] The Quietus. Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2016].

Escobedo Shepherd, J. (2013). Red Bull Music Academy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].

Light, E. (2016). Exclusive: Britney Spears’ Manager Tells the Story Behind the Infamous Madonna VMAs Kiss. [online] Billboard. Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2016].

Nelson, J. (2016). Madonna Blond Ambition Backup Dancers: Where Are They Now. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].

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