JOHNSON: The USC LGBTQ+ Student Center is hosting their first ever Renaissance Ball to bring a snippet of Ballroom Culture to USC according to their advertisement. The event will center on the Black and Queer community, and specifically the ways in which Ballroom has shaped Black and queer communities in the United States and Internationally. I spoke to juniors Alan Enriquez and Caleb Flenoury who will be walking the runway this weekend.
FLENOURY: So what’s happening on Friday, March 24th from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. is the USC Renaissance Ball. It’s the first of all the USC has ever hosted. And pretty much it is going to be a celebration of the authenticity of Black and brown queer [excellence]. Balls were started in Harlem, New York in the 1900s and that’s where we came together to express ourselves as queer individuals in spaces that were safe in a society at large that made us feel like outcasts.
ENRIQUEZ: There’s always been ballroom scenes, as Caleb has told me before, around the country. But this is like the first time at a school and they’re very clear that this is not like the real ball. This is a taste of a ball, which I think is very respectful as well, because ballroom culture is its own culture. And I think that the cool thing about it is that it’s meant to be shared and celebrated. But like, you know, as with all cultures should not be appropriated. So it’s happening this Friday and there are different typse of categories. And there’s five I believe and I’ll be walking three of them. Executive, School Boy, and Runway. I’ll be doing those three.
FLENOURY: I will be doing four: schoolboy, rudeness, face, runway, and probably all-American, which is the more masculine style.
ENRIQUEZ: I’m honestly very excited to see everyone’s fits. There’s a lot of my friends who are going, some of them who are not necessarily queer, but are people of color. And regardless, it’s just going to be a big celebration.
FLENOURY: I’m looking forward to one the competition to see who all is walking. It’s OTA which stands for Open to All. Meaning anyone can come through and you have to RSVP first, but you can walk and show off your your talent, your skill, or just your energy, which is what ballroom is all about. And I’m excited to compete in that regard, and I’m excited mainly to feel the energy. It’s a very open and welcoming space and I’m excited to know that everyone who is there will be contributing to the energy.
So the tickets are going to be on the USC LGBTQ plus center page. They have about three or four post with it now. They’ve been posting a lot of promo for it. So you can go on there and click their link tree in the bio and find their RSVP links. You can RSVP to go or just to you can RSVP to walk a category or just to show up. And again, the time is from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Friday, March 24th in Tommy’s place.
I’ll just reiterate what Alan said in saying that this is a taste of Ball Room and it’s important to understand the culture that it comes from. Black and brown people of queer identity face a lot of trials and tribulations every day. Right now, the drag scene is going through something which has a lot to do with Ballroom as well. There are categories and main balls where you do drag performances and other things like that, so it’s important to realize, Oh yeah, we like to Kiki and have fun and show off, and we can seem like spectacles at times. We still are people and we have rights that need to be protected as well. So come through and support.
JOHNSON: You still have time to RSVP to the event and you can find more information through the usclqbtqplus Instagram page. The show will feature four categories for participants including Runway, Face, Performance, and Realness. The Renaissance Ball is open for all to compete-- for a grand prize of $200 in each category.
For Annenberg Media, I’m Isa Johnson.