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“Come on, Vogue!": A Brief History of Voguing and it's Impact in the LGBTQ+ Community

“Come on, vogue (vogue)

Let your body move to the music (move to the music)

Hey, hey, hey

Come on, vogue (vogue)

Let your body go with the flow (go with the flow)

You know you can do it”

For many, Madonna's chart-topping single "Vogue" has served as the initial and sole point of reference for voguing, a highly stylistic dance subgenre first popularized in the LGBTQ+ community. Madonna's iconic monochromatic music video first graced the MTV screens in 1990, which heavily centered around the voguing sub-culture, launching the dance form into mainstream popularity. Named after the famous magazine, voguing is characterized by its exaggerated poses and theatrical movements that pay homage to high fashion models.

Even decades following "Vogue" music video's release, the dance phenomenon is still widely celebrated today and seen in popular TV shows such as RuPaul's Drag Race, Pose, and Legendary.


Voguing was first pioneered by Black and Latino gay, trans, and queer individuals in New York City's underground Ball Culture in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Ball Culture: a term that refers to an underground LGBTQ+ subculture in which participants would compete in various categories such as catwalks, dance, and lip-syncing for prizes or recognition.

During the AIDS crisis in 1981, the LGBTQ+ community faced immense prejudice and discrimination. As a result, many LGBTQ+ individuals turned to ballroom culture as a way to find a community where individuals can connect with others who share similar experiences and struggles.

The ballroom scene is known for its supportive atmosphere, with members being a part of “Houses,” which functioned as a chosen family for those who were ostracized by their biological family, friends, and/or community. Whether through dance, fashion, or simply being part of the community, members of the ballroom scene are able to find acceptance, support, and a sense of belonging.

The critically acclaimed 1990 documentary "Paris Is Burning" demonstrated how the LGBTQ+ community used voguing to reclaim their identities and celebrate their unique experiences in response to prejudice following the 1981 AIDS crisis. Voguing was not only a dance style but also a cultural movement that provided a platform for queer people to showcase their creativity and challenge societal norms.

“The first time I went to a ball was phenomenal…I was like a kid at an amusement park. I saw people just like me. I saw joy.”

- Dominique Jackson (trans actress, model and activist)


Early forms of Voguing, the Old Way, date back to the 1970s and 1980s and mainly consisted of fixed, balletic poses that transitioned from one to another. As new dance techniques and ideas emerged, it ushered in two additional forms of Voguing;" The New Way" and "Vogue Fem."

Appropriately named "The New Way," it evolved directly from "The Old Way" in the 1990s, which introduced elements of martial arts, arm control (e.g., tutting & locking), and rigid movements paired with "clicks" (limb contortions at the joints).

Introduced in 1995, "Vogue Fem" is characterized by its hyper-feminine dance movements, incorporating elements of ballet, jazz and modern dance. "Vogue Fem" techniques can vary from soft (graceful and flowy movements) to dramatic (e.g., stunts and tricks).

Five elements of “Vogue Fem

Voguing continues to thrive as an art form that celebrates inclusivity and self-expression. Its influence can be seen in contemporary dance styles like waacking and house dancing. Moreover, it has become an essential symbol of resilience within the LGBTQ+ community - reminding us of the power of dance to transcend boundaries while honoring our authentic selves.


“A Brief History of Voguing.” National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian, 26 July 2019.

Brown, Helen. “Vogue - Madonna’s 1990 Hit Helped Catapult a Subculture into the Mainstream.” Financial Times, 22 Aug 2022.

Hart, Benji, and Michael Roberson. “The Ballroom Scene Has Long Offered Radical Freedoms for Black and Brown Queer People. Today, That Matters More than Ever.” Time, 26 Feb. 2021.

Kapela, Kimberly. “Celebrating the Cultural Significance Behind ‘Voguing.’” Unpublishedzine, 27 June 2021.

Mackenzie, Malcolm. “The Cast of TV Drama: Pose: ‘Without us Madonna Would be Nothing.’” The Guardian, 22 Apr 2019.

Morgan, Thaddeus. “How 19th-Century Drag Balls Evolved into House Balls, Birthplace of Voguing.” History, 28 June 2021.

Schijen, Sarah. “A Brief History of Voguing, by Vogue.” Vogue India, 6 June 2019.


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Jan 04
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Yes!!! what an excellent article!! Love you guys!

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