REVIEW & GALLERY: Vogue Ball 2021 – A Night at the Poseum: World Museum, Liverpool
After a downsized 2020 Ball in Tier Three, the House of Suarez comes back big with a Night at the Poseum.
Every year, as it comes to the Vogue Ball, we worry that we won’t have much to say about it.
It is one of our favourite events. It makes us feel alive, and one of the key cornerstones of the Liverpool cultural calendar. But after years of covering the same event, conventional wisdom dictates that surely, at some point, you’re going to run out of things to say?
And then, barely into the first category, the House of Viva Brazil arrived in a piece that even made the other houses’ jaws drop, and we realised that this happens every time; they never let us down. The artistry of everybody involved in the Ball comes together and elicits screams, gasps, finger snapping and sends everybody home astonished.
This year feels extra special. 2020’s Ball was staged in Tier Three. It was a far more limited affair, but no less fabulous and a testament to the determination of everybody involved – especially leader Darren Suarez – that we can still do what we do and be ourselves in the face of the unexpected.
Because it was a more limited affair, there were less houses involved. So this year, it was a pleasure to see both regulars and new faces on stage, and the limitations of the last 18 months only gave birth to grander ideas and execution. In short; everybody stepped their pussies up.
The other reason it feels special is the location. From the Invisible Wind Factory, to last year’s smaller Black-E, in 2021 we are in the World Museum. The possibilities are endless, and Suarez opens by telling us that each of the Houses had been given a different aspect of the museum to bring to life in each category, which explains why we were treated to the brilliantly surreal sight of a horny dinosaur in the Sex Siren category.
It was clear from Suarez’s traditional opening piece that the House of Suarez themselves had been assigned an Egyptian theme. The dancers made their way around the room, engulfing us completely in the world we were about to enter, musical Easter Eggs abound (I may not have been the only person who recognised the music from the beginning of Michael Jackson’s Egyptian-themed Remember The Time video being used).
Towards the end of the piece, one of the masked dancers was revealed to be Suarez himself. Last year, at the height of the pandemic, Suarez told us that due to the added pressures, he was unable to enjoy the Ball. This year, in a rare instance of him taking to the stage himself at the Ball, we could see the joy.
Host Rikki Beadle-Blair then made his grand entrance. And we mean grand.
The lights went out, the tension built for what felt like an eternity. Then out he walked. Slowly. Very, very slowly. Dressed as the Queen we all knew he was. He slowly made his way to the front of the catwalk, soaking in the atmosphere. It was dramatic, camp and hilarious.
Beadle-Blair is vital to the Vogue Ball. He makes us all feel beautiful, insists that everybody is welcome, that we all belong her. We’re not too fat, we’re not too bald, we’re not too black or white, we’re not too gay, we’re not too straight. This is the place we come to live out our fantasies and be the version of ourselves we feel we can’t be outside these walls. It’s cathartic, and it’s beautiful.
This was underlined several times throughout the night, proving that this message isn’t for show as it often is at so many events. For instance, the judges were deliberating in what appeared to be a tie-breaker. It was decided that one of the new Houses would win over a veteran. The reason? We need to show appreciation to the new faces – a lesson that should probably be taken into account in the city at large.
As beautiful a venue the World Museum was, there was an issue with being able to see at the back. The Vogue Ball is such a visual extravaganza, it was a shame when we were at the back at the room that we noticed how difficult it was for people to see back there. This wasn’t something that could necessarily be helped with the structural layout of the room, but also not something that has been an issue at the Vogue Ball before. We’re glad they did it in this venue, and it gave life to a cavalcade of incredible artistry, but we do secretly yearn for a return to the pre-pandemic party when it is safe to do so.
The Ball moves so fast that it can be hard, as a reviewer, to keep up with everything. Every single House brought in and then some. This cannot be overstated. There may have been winners in each individual category and an overall winner for the night, but that’s not really what it’s about. Each and every house deserves their due. So, we’ll close by sending our heartfelt congratulations to; The House of Blaque, The House of Cards, The House of Curio, The House of Korrupt, The House of La Morte, The House of La Porta, The House of LIPA, The House of Onyx, The House of Suarez and The House of Viva Brazil.
You all BROUGHT IT, henny.
Pictures by Vicky Pea