One of the most popular and noted balls on the New York City ballroom circuit is the Latex Ball. Over the past 28 years of its existence, the event has become world renown in the community and has even built up standing outside of the culture, being culturally resonant in New York City nightlife as well. And for good reason: put on in part by the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, around $10,000 in awards is given out over the span of about six hours. But as with many cultural events, the festivities have outgrown the Latex Ball itself and has taken on affiliated balls that last all weekend. With hosts like Dashaun Lanvin and Jack Mizrahi calling the shots all weekend, here we recap our five favorite moments.
LSS (legends, statements and stars) is a valued tradition in ballroom. Before most balls, LSS is held to recognize the notable people in the room. Generally names are called out, the named person comes to the runway and does whatever they’d like to do and receives a round of applause. The segment also serves to get people excited for the battles but occasionally LSS turns into a few friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) battles. As was the case when Dashaun Lanvin was called out for LSS and along the way it became a four way (friendly) battle that included Monster Labeija and Jamari.
A similar situation happened at the TKO Aftermath with a few runway legends on Sunday.
When many people outside of the ballroom community think of balls they fixate on the art form of voguing. And while voguing certainly deserves attention, voguing only makes up one section of categories at a ball and some of the others can be just as exciting. Case in point: a runway ball at the Latex Ball.
In one of the final walks from a runway category, Jal Milan and Gillette Mizrahi take it to the back of the runway. What transpires next, which begins with Jal shadily throwing his cape onto Gillette in an attempt to throw his competitor off, is nothing short of poetry in motion. Another honorable mention for runway: Diva Davanna’s entrance for legendary runway.
One of the most contemporary touchstones that culture has to ballroom right now is Ryan Murphy’s Pose, currently airing on FX. As such the community recognized him for his work at the Latex Ball with an award. Come to find out, most of the Pose team was present. As Dominique Jackson (Elektra Abundance) came up through the ballroom scene, known as Tyra Milan, she sat on the judging panel. Ryan Jamal Swaan (Damon Richards), Dyllon Burnside (Ricky), Janet Mock, and more were all present. Mj Rodriguez (Blanca), came out to thunderous applause for the House of Evangelista, even vogued a bit after revealing that she was a member of the Leiomy Maldonado’s House of Amazon.
Dramatics are a given for any good night at a ball. And even if you’ve seen something before, when it’s done correctly, it still never ceases to gag. Such was the case with one of the “freshman” butch queen performers who dropped from the ceiling literal ceiling onto the runway to get his tens at TKO Aftermath, which had singer Mya as a guest judge. Sure he comes in a line of performers who have successfully landed stunts from dizzying heights, but trust us: in person, it never gets old.
To wrap up the weekend Jack Mizrahi and Luna Khan hosted a Latex Ball Fall Out iteration of Jack’s recurring Vogue Knights event. While the venue and crowd was smaller (Latex Ball was said to have over 2,000 attendees), the talent was still there. In particular: Legendary Ricky GLUV performing “Art of Performance.” The mandate was simple: create a performance that incorporates voguing and your own music under two minutes. Using a 1991 recording of Whitney Houston singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl, Ricky’s performance was a version of America (and performance) we’d love to see more of.