Vogue (dance)

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Genre House dance, ballroom dance
Year 1980s
Origin Harlem, New York, United States

Vogue, or voguing, is a highly stylized, modern house dance that evolved out of the Harlem ballroom scene in the 1980s.[1][2] It gained mainstream exposure when it was featured in Madonna's song and video "Vogue" (1990),[3] and when showcased in the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning (which went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival).[2]


Inspired by Vogue magazine, voguing is characterized by model-like poses integrated with angular, linear, and rigid arm, leg, and body movements. This style of dance arose from Harlem ballrooms by African Americans in the early 1960s. It was originally called "presentation" and later "performance".[2] Over the years, the dance evolved into the more intricate and illusory[clarification needed] form that is now called "vogue". Voguing is continually developed further as an established dance form that is practiced in the gay ballroom scene and clubs in major cities throughout the United States—mainly New York City.


There are currently three distinct styles of vogue: Old Way (pre-1990); New Way (post-1990);[4] and Vogue Fem (circa 1995).[2] Although Vogue Fem has been used in the ballroom scene as a catch-all phrase for overtly effeminate Voguing as far back as the 1960s, as a recognizable style of Voguing, it only came into its own around the mid-1990s. Other styles of voguing include hand gestures and dramatics, although they are also referred to as part of Vogue Fem.[original research?]

It should be noted that the terms "Old Way" and "New Way" are generational. Earlier generations called the style of voguing the generation before them practiced "old way".[original research?] Voguers, therefore, reuse these terms to refer to the evolutionary changes of the dance that are observable almost every ten years. Ten years from now, today's "new way" will likely be deemed the "old way".[original research?]

Old way[edit]

Old way is characterized by the formation of lines, symmetry, and precision in the execution of formations with graceful, fluid-like action. Egyptian hieroglyphs and fashion poses serve as the original inspirations for old way voguing. In its purest, historical form, old way vogue is a duel between two rivals. Traditionally, old way rules dictated that one rival must "pin" the other to win the contest. Pinning involved the trapping of an opponent so that he or she could not execute any movements while the adversary was still in motion (usually voguing movements with the arms and hands called "hand performance" while the opponent was "pinned" against the floor doing "floor exercises" or against a wall).[original research?]

New way[edit]

New way is characterized by rigid movements coupled with "clicks" (limb contortions at the joints) and "arms control" (hand and wrist illusions, which sometimes includes tutting and locking). New way can also be described as a modified form of mime in which imaginary geometric shapes, such as a box, are introduced during motion and moved progressively around the dancer's body to display the dancer's dexterity and memory. New way involves incredible flexibility.[original research?]

Vogue Fem[edit]

Vogue Fem ("Fem" is derived from the French word femme, meaning "woman") is fluidity at its most extreme with exaggerated feminine movements influenced by ballet, jazz and modern dance. Styles of Vogue Fem performance range from Dramatics (which emphasizes stunts, tricks, and speed) to Soft (which emphasizes a graceful, beautiful, easy flow and flow continuations between the five elements). There are five elements of Vogue Fem: hand performance, catwalk, duckwalk, floor performance, and dips & drops (although some non-official performances may count spins as one of the elements, in professional Vogueing battles and displays, the performer is judged on the five original elements of Vogue). When competing in a Vogue Fem battle, contestants should showcase all five elements in an entertaining fashion.[original research?]

Hand performance refers to the illusions and movements of the arms, wrists, hands, and fingers. The catwalk is the upright sashaying in a linear fashion. The duckwalk refers to the crouched, squatted, foot-kicking and scooting movements requiring balance on the balls of the feet. Floor performance refers to the movements done on the floor using primarily the legs, knees, and back. Dramatic dips are executed by the performer lifting and bending a single leg (usually standing on the toe with the other) and, in rapid succession, lowering their body to the ground with minimal support to display their leg strength (the performer stands to start with). Soft Dips are essentially broken down, it is usually executed following a spin or duck walk and is rarely seen executed standing up. The dip is almost always supported with one or both arms to soften the fall.[original research?]


Runway is one of the vogue styles based on the runway walks of models, usually with a requested outfit or color.[original research?]

Regional scenes and chapters[edit]

The ballroom scene has evolved into a national underground dancesport with major balls being held in different regions. New York State continues to be the mecca of the ballroom scene as well as the dance style, but regional voguing "capitals" exist—Chicago and Detroit for the Midwest. Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Miami for the South. Los Angeles and Las Vegas for the West Coast. Baltimore, D.C, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh. and Virginia for the East Coast.[original research?]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gregory, Deborah (2008). Catwalk. New York City: Random House, Inc. ISBN 978-0-375-84895-7. 
  2. ^ a b c d Freeman, Santiago (August 1, 2008). "The Vogue trend returns". DanceSpirit.com. MacFadden Performing Arts Media. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  3. ^ Guilbert, Georges-Claude (2002). Madonna as postmodern myth: how one star's self-construction rewrites sex, gender, Hollywood, and the American dream. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-1408-6. 
  4. ^ "The House of Diabolique vs. Runway, Ballroom, and Voguing music". HouseOfDiabolique.com. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 

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