Ballroom; a kaleidoscopic space where the most exceptional and expressive shades and hues of the queer community are revealed. Through the art of movement and dance, beings and spirits collide and intertwine to create euphoria. Societal judgment and prejudice dissolve into thin air, as the hypnotic rhythms of the music provide the perfect stage for dancers to Let it Out. Sensuality, confidence, charisma and flair flood the dancefloor, raising the vibrations and energy of the performers and audience.
It is this euphoric confidence, and glowing community spirit, that inspired GAY TIMES to cast three of the UK’s most talented and striking Voguers. Inviting them to express themselves through the art of movement, but to also, in their own words, shed a glorious light on how ballroom and voguing have helped shape their identity, sense of style and expression, and their confidence to glide through life with an empowered sense of self.
The people you will meet in this article, Jabri King, Sema-Tawi Smart, and Webster are all dynamic creatives, models, dancers, dreamers and free thinkers. They exude all the ingredients of queer joy and strength and vibrantly bring their queer essence alive on the ballroom floor. We invited them to reflect and write on how they Let it Out, but also the advice they would give to anyone on their own personal journey with queerness and identity.
To Let it Out is to truly shed away expectations, strip external pressures and embrace the true authentic and radiant self that lies in the heart of all of us. Once this is accessed, there is no other option but to express it on the dancefloor.
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The ballroom scene has allowed me a space to fully show up as my most authentic self without holding back any parts of me, it’s strengthened me in ways I didn’t know possible, and it’s allowed me to express myself to my fullest degree with no holding back. Ain’t nowhere else as a queer individual you truly find a space to be that free.
I feel freedom within the movement, whenever I move my body it’s like nothing else matters in that moment, just me, the music and however my body decides to move. It just makes me feel so free with no care in the world.
I feel most empowered when I allow myself to navigate life experiences, without judgment or control over anything. I allow myself to surrender to the divine mission, and be without any expectations or pre-set limitations against myself and all I believe in, because once you believe it you shall receive it.
My message for the future queers will be to ignore the negative energy projected onto you by society, friends, and family as much as possible, I know it will be very hard in the beginning, it might even seem impossible, and you might even want to give up on this entire experience but on the other side of it all joy awaits you, your dreams awaits you, your freedom awaits you once you believe in it all, so believe in yourself at all costs, no matter what your life may look like at the moment. give yourself grace and have patience with yourself because we all experience this differently. Patience is key, have patience with it, stay dreaming, create a safe place in your mind where you can go after a long day, and allow yourself to be. Overall, trust the process, trust your journey. No one will tell you this but you have all it takes to make this world a better place and by simply existing, you’re already making it a much better place for all of us. So choose life and just be yourself.
Performing for my community is like showcasing to my brothers and sisters something I’ve been working on that’s ready to be shared, honest feedback and their own perspective on my expression fills me, to have their love, support, and energy in the room with me giving it full out is just one of those feelings you really can’t explain.
The ballroom scene brings communities together with the unmatched energy that fills the rooms when a function is on. The joy, the expressions of self, the freedom, the glamour, the fabulosity, the effects, the productions all offer you a one-night-only experience like never before. It makes us queer and non-queer folk come alive.
Ballroom, it’s given me a space to see people who look like me be free and in seeing their liberation, I find my own self empowerment and motivation. It’s also given me some of my closest family. Kylee, Mystic, kaia, Léo are some of the people whom are truly incredible behind the scenes, which for me, is what matters the most in ballroom: family.
Ballroom makes me feel liberated, free, movement and sound is the most universal language of communication regarding feelings, emotions, thoughts and questions and options. It gives me the space to think and feel by being able to take my mind to a completely different space, one where I am able to articulate myself through words or movement without any outside influence.
I feel the most empowered version of myself by being loved on, affection, platonic and intimate, words of affirmation, people being soft with me and taking the time to understand where I am coming from as it’s the same grace I give to all who I interact with.
Learning to accept who you are when looking in the mirror is life’s journey. A balance between the fantasy of what you want and where you are now and then how to get there. Accepting who you see and are is the only pride that matters. My queerness is not my story, my journey and experiences are.
Being alternative is the vibe and the key to freedom. Not making a shock factor for the sake of it but really living for YOU, because this will determine how you see yourself in the world and in turn how the world sees and treats you in return.
Ballroom brings the LGBTQIA+ community together because we speak in a language only we can understand the true meaning and perspective, it comes from a lived experience of life. It gives us a space of liberation and empowerment.
I let out my sense of pride through my fashion statements as a model, and by expressing myself through my movement when tackling everyday adversities this crazy world brings my way. The ballroom scene has reaffirmed so many disbeliefs I had about myself in the past. The consistent love and care from a support system I found a few years ago has been eye-opening.
Dance and movement allows me to feel and understand my body. To be able to move without thinking and channelling is so empowering. Being aware of my growth as a multifaceted being is so empowering, as this life is a continuous journey that has no guidebook.
Understanding how powerful you are as a being is the first step. And the rest is just trusting your intuition and spreading the frequency of love. My chosen family has helped shape my queer stories through the ups and downs that we go through and never letting the bad moments or struggles govern how our story should be. Go and look for a sense of community if you haven’t already, make sure to not get swept up in the lifestyle and know what your priorities are as you get older.
Performing and showcasing my talents to a queer crowd is a magical affirming experience and that’s so beautiful to me. To make my younger self feel at peace. Dance and Voguing are very spiritual experiences, this experience draws the community together as we get to celebrate our talents and stories.
In line with their year-round support of the LGBTQIA+ community, Calvin Klein is proud to have committed over $220,000 USD to NGOs including PFLAG National, ILGA World, Transgender Law Center and more in 2023 to date; additionally, Calvin Klein Australia and the PVH Foundation donated $55,000 USD to BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation this year.