Monday, 25 November 2013


It's not often you get a legendary voguer doing classes and performances right on your own doorstep. But that's the case with New York's Aviance Milan, who has recently been performing in Liverpool with the House Of Suarez, and teaching classes all over Europe. I was first introduced to Aviance through our mutual friend, the Swedish producer Petter Wallenberg, about a year ago and passed his details on to the House Of Suarez, and it has been very exciting to see them working together, culminating in a show called "Vogue Deco" which should be touring the UK next year. I originally interviewed Aviance back in January this year, but due to a hard-drive crash lost the text. Thankfully though, being a ture gentleman, he was kind enough to let me do the interview again last month...

How did you discover/get into voguing in the first place? 

It was the year 1991. I was in junior High School and my mother had gone away for the summer to Brazil, and I ended up staying at my Aunt's house in the Bronx. That's when I met Kevin Milan, who was a Magnifique at the time. He's passed away now. I saw them voguing, they were my cousin's friends who lived across the street. I got up to see what they were doing and they asked "are you interested in this? and I said "I guess so, a little bit". So they brought me inside the apartment and they played me tracks like "Dub Break". I hated it! But they said "if you wanna vogue this is the tune you have to vogue to". So they started teaching me stuff. Two months later I met Mink Xtravaganza and Luis Xtravaganza, and, really, they were the first ones who taught me about Balls, because I didn't know what it was. So they brought me upstairs and showed me videos. The first time I ever saw New Way was Damian Xtravaganza, who is a Revlon now, and it was the first time I saw voguing with the contortions and the stretches and stuff like that. That was what really attracted me to it actually. I joined the House of L'Amore, which was my very first house, and I started training for about a year and a half. After I was done training I started walking balls and I would win constantly.

I take it that voguing culture had a lot to do with the club scene at the time, too? 

Yes, a lot of it had to do with the club scene. I started going to the clubs in 92, so this is 92/93.  Clubs like Red Zone, which was my first club. Then you had places like The Building, Trax, Sound Factory, Sound Factory Bar, Cafe Con Leche, Wunderbar, Danceteria, Stingray's, Mars 2112, Palladium, Club USA, Limelight, Roseland, The Tunnel… yeah there were tons back then! And that's where the battles really started. That's where it started to get really competitive, 'cos in the ballroom you've only got a few minutes. but in the clubs there is no end. It just goes on, haha! 

So, this is after Madona released "Vogue" and the world had taken notice of the dance/culture. Do you think that track affected the scene?

Madonna first discovered vogue at the original Sound Factory on 27th St. and the DJ was Junior Vasquez. She used to go there all the time and you'd see her, partying, flirting, doing whatever she was doing. After "Vogue", the scene had never really stopped, but I guess she kinda commercialised it, and introduced it to the world. But Paris Is Burning is still the closest you could get to seeing the fundamentals of it. Where it actually came from and why they do it.

The scene has changed, and a good way to define would be like fashion. And back then when I was really active and competing in balls, it wasn't as commercial as it is now. The audience is 20 times bigger now.  

For me, from my observations, I think it got more mainstream with Dramatic Vogue Femme. because nowadays if you go to a ball and you see the New Way category there's like 3 people. You know, I can say there's a handful of Dramatic voguers who do it really well that I can watch, but for the most part, like I said, everything changes, styles evolve, you know. Also, I was one of the first butch queens to Vogue Femme. And this is before the Dramatics, this is like Old Way Femme. Like Dramatics now would be considered New Way Femme, like what Leoimy does and the twirls and the headspins and all that stuff. 

How would you define your own vogue style?

I would have to define my style as Old Way/New Way. Back in 92-93, and even 90-91, there was a lot of people with my style, for example Jose Xtravaganza, who danced with Madonna. And Derrick Xtravaganza, Damian Revlon, Jose Revlon - if you look at our styles they are all kinda similar, in terms of the music and the technicality. (What I consider new way New Way would be Javier Ninja.)

Aviance battling all the way back in 1995!! 

Who were the originators of Dramatic Vogue Femme?

Well the creators of the dramatic which were the femme queens were Ashley St Clair, Venus Mizrahi, Alyssa, they were the creators. And then Leoimy came and took it to a whole noter level. I think the first time I saw Leoimy was around 2004/2005.

The founder of Butch Queen Vogue Femme was Eugene Milan, Chi Chi Mizrahi was another, Mysterious Dior, Carlos Mugler, Taiepha Ebony...  This is the original, butch queens taking from the femme queen style. This is in about 93/94, and I stopped doing vogue femme in around 97/98. I just wasn't picturing myself falling on my back ha ha!

Did you feel alienated by Dramatics?

No not at all, I didn't feel alienated. Like, a lot of people consider me the youngest of the old school,  cos I was so young but I was battling the originals. Actually, I feel glad that I came from that as opposed to what is there now. The down point to the current scene is that everyone looks like they are doing the same thing. When you see Old Way or you see New Way, we're not doing the same things cos everyone's a little different. But these days everybody hops down they hop on their feet they jump up they shake their heads, they fall back and they get up and repeat the whole process again! So it gets a little repetitive. But on another note, Leoimy is different when she does it cos there are moves that only she can do. Moves that people are still trying to master and they can't. It's refreshing to see that from her. But I have my favourites, like Leoimy, and I love watching Dashaun. And Jarell, who used to be a Milan too, and Joey Mizrahi. Those are my favourites cos you can sit there and watch and you don't know what they are gonna do. It's un expected.

What's your advice to people who are starting out in vogue/ballroom?

I tell everyone you have to pick a style that really calls you, and that you feel comfortable with. I saw old way and New Way just called me. Everyone has that niche, and when you see a tyle you love, that's the one you should master. I tell everybody, when you have mastered one, then you can master others. It's impossible to take 5 different classes from 5 different styles cos you will be confused if you don't know one. 

So how did you get started teaching voguing classes in Europe?

I had taken a break from the balls because  a lot of the New Way people were just battling ourselves, over and over. So it kinda died down for about 3 or 4 years and it was actually an email from Russia that got me back involved. After that it was like a domino effect! I started going different places and it just took off like that. Russia were the first ones to actually throw a ball, and I still have the flyer on my phone! That was 3 years ago. Since then I have performed in Sweden, Finland, Russia, France, Germany, the UK and next year in Spain. There's always something going on!

How did you end up living in Sweden? 

Well, I ended up in Finland as I was contracted through Nordic Moves school, for a period of four months, and so I moved there for those 4 months, and that's when I met my partner. I came back to the states for a month to settle up all my personal stuff, and then I moved back to Finland and then my partner got work in Sweden so they relocated us here. It's been a rollercoaster! 
Aviance performs a solo at the Blue Coat, Liverpool as part of Homotopia 2013:

Sunday, 24 November 2013

JA'MIE KING Private School Girl

I'm like SO obsessed with this show right now it's QUICHE bitches!!! If you haven't seen it yet WATCH IT. Chris Lilley as Ja'mie King is one of the best drag performances ever IMO, I'd go so far as to say it's beyond drag, it's just incredible character acting. With some of the nastiest, bitchiest dialog on TV.

I just couldn't help making this tribute to this genius show. I hope they don't sue:

Friday, 22 November 2013

Origin of the "HA"

In case you've ever wondered where that sounds comes form. Via MikeQ's Vine:

Thursday, 21 November 2013

KIDDY SMILE Get Myself Alone video


Been sitting on this video for a few months now, and I have been GAGGING to share it! It was under wraps while "industry" stuff was getting sorted out and now it is finally here, and you can see for yurself how much it rocks. One of my clips of the year, by one of the most exciting new artists around - and keep your eyes peeled for the CVNT remix of this monster:

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

JRAPP Ill Nonsense Mix for Knightwerk Records

LA Based DJ/Producer/Label Owner JRapp sent us @knightwerkrecords a really awesome NEW mix that has lots of Exclusives, including some stuff that will be out on his Forthcoming "Groovy Grub EP" due for release soon. Make sure 2 Show support and check him out...

1. Project Pat - If you aint from my hood (Chopped and Screwed)
2. Sugardaddy - stripped to the bone
3. Cromie - ZA
4. JRapp - Scripts
5. JRapp - Grubby Groove
6. Lil Flip Freestyle Interlude (Chopped and Screwed)
7. Sage Caswell - ?
8. Phil Kieran - Saturdays (Catz 'n Dogz Remix)
9. Tasty Treat - You Got Me
10. Green Velvet, Phil Kieran - Free Yourself
11. Pearson Sound - Starburst
12. Kingdom - That Mystic
13. SPF66 - Scorpion Cache (MIke G Remix)
14. Aden - Whip
15. Recloose - Chamois
16. Jackmaster K - Chemistry

artwork by @crylattice

Monday, 18 November 2013

RUSHMORE mix for Astral Plane

rushmore art photoshop2

Via Astral Plane, House Of Trax resident Rushmore is in the mix: 

It’s always interesting to witness disparate (in both a stylistic and geographic sense) musical scenes interacting, referencing and building off of each other. It’s also no surprise that we’re big fans of collaboration and intertextuality in these parts so you can imagine how pleased we were when Trax Couture bossman Rushmore agreed to contribute to our guest mix series. On his own time, the London-based producer makes machine music pure and simple. Rushmore’s tracks are industrial in nature, drawing on London’s ‘nuum fascination to bring together grime, dubstep and techno. He also draws much inspiration from Chicago and New York, specifically the sharp, linear lines of ghettotek and the lewd abrasiveness of ballroom, both of which are clearly apparent in his productions and mix work.

Lucky for all of us, his second 12″ (also the second in Trax Couture’ss HOT series) will be released in early December. You might recognize “Bloodlines” from Neana’s guest mix last week and the rest of the EP follows similar contours, repeatedly throwing jagged rhythms and undulating sub bass at the listener. To celebrate the EP release, the House of Trax folks (Rushmore and Fools) are throwing a party in London with Georgia Girls. The function will occur on December 6 at Birthdays and is sure to feature plenty of choice cuts from the HOT crew. Stream/download Rushmore’s mix below and hit the jump for a full tracklist.

Moleskin – Witch of the west
Akito – Aqua Tryst
Rushmore – Bloodlines
Fraxinus – Vox Humanae
Rushmore – Prada
MikeQ – Pussy Cunt
Rushmore – Ice Ton
Rushmore – Ignite
M.I.A – Y.A.L.A [ MikeQ Mix ]
Moleskin – Slippin
Rushmore – Turn It On
Anthony Viscunty – Work & Pop Ha
Neana & Georgia Girls – Be More
Dance System – DS Theme
Rushmore – Parad [ Overall Dub ]
Neana – Aggro Satin Theme
Dance System ft Jamming Gerald – Move It
Georgia Girls – Baddest White
Fraxinus – All Ends
Jhene Aiko – From Time TF Chop 4 Jesse

Thursday, 14 November 2013

PURPLE CRUSH iCarry / interview

One of the great things about running a blog is that when something interesting falls into your lap, it's the perfect excuse to find out more. Such is the case with LA-based production/dance unit Purple Crush, who sent me a sweet little track called "iCarry" (below, so I dutifully sent them back some questions to explain/introduce themselves to CVNTY...

What is Purple Crush/Who is Purple Crush?

Purple Crush is the love child between Isla and Jared, a hetero married queer couple.  Purple Crush was born in Brooklyn, NY and saw success in the blog house days, touring the US and Europe extensively.  We then moved to LA where we worked for Interscope and produced music for Lady Gaga (google Purple Crush/Lady Gaga/billboard/rollingstone).  After a drawn out lawsuit, Purple Crush was then resuscitated by the underground LA queer club community, which has brought us to now.

What was the inspiration behind iCarry?

It began as a track with Cobra Krames last may in his studio in Brooklyn.  It's a term everyone is using, not just NYers, and that week i had seen Contessa (of Reign in Ratchet and Azealia Banks' "Count Contesssa") go off on twitter about how she carries.  We've known Contessa for years and i couldn't help being inspired by it.  I had actually asked her to lay a verse but it was literally 3 days before Count Contessa dropped and so she got pretty busy.  Also, I simply must shout out House of Ladosha's "I'm Carrying", because that's the original.  By spelling iCarry like an apple product is sort of calling out the soon to be over exposure of the term (sorry).

Who are the other people you worked with on the track? 

Cobra Krames is an old homie.  He always goes hard.  Rica Shay is this adorable rapper/dancer from NY (though i hear he's moving to LA).  Erik Avery literally started performing in LA 2-3 months ago and is THE buzz kid.  "iCarry" is his first recorded track.
What's the ball scene like in LA? 
Well, despite what hipsters may think, it never went away.  I work with a group called REACH LA that houses the LA ball scene, and they have kept it alive; last weekend was their annual ball and Jack Mizrahi came out to MC, it was amazing.  I throw an event called the Banjee Ball which combines the ball scene with the underground club community.  I feel like overall the ball scene in LA is about to become a landmark.

What have you got coming up in the near future? 

We're finishing an album, ICONOCLASSIC (iconoclast + classic).  It features collaborations with the above artists, as well as Raja, Josh Peace (Azealia Banks remixer), Miss Barbie Q, and Rudeness.  I'm also going to be putting together a Banjee Ball tour for next year.

More info at the Purple Crush website.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


HEAVY FUKKIN TUNE!! Don't know who these guys are, but I will def be finding out more on the basis of this track alone. Feeling it hard:

Monday, 11 November 2013

Voguing, Ballroom & Cultural Appropriation for THE QUIETUS

I originally published this piece here on CVNTY last week, but it was picked up by The Quietus, so removed, editted ever so slightly (mostly a new intro to give context) and re-published on their site. So here it is again:

My name is Niall Connolly, aka The Niallist, and I am a UK-based music producer, DJ and writer. In the past I have released my music through some notable labels (Dissident, Eskimo/Radius, Lo Recordings) but am now channeling all my efforts into the alias CUNT TRAXXX, aka CVNT.

CVNT is directly inspired by the American ballroom/vogue scene, and in particular artists like Vjuan Allure, Kevin Prodigy, Divoli S'Vere and MIkeQ, and also very much by the dancers themselves. The word "cunt" is used frequently in ball culture, as a very positive term, the subtle difference being it is an adjective and not a noun. Its connotations of femininity, superiority and unique style are why I have chosen to use it, and I have just released my fourth EP as CVNT, the Statement EP, through the Belgian label Body Work. Apart from making music and DJing, I write about vogue culture and music at my blog CVNTY.

Post-Miley Cyrus, and amidst the raging debate about "cultural appropriation", a lot of pertinent issues are being ignored in a rush to paint everything as either "good" or "bad", "acceptable" or "unacceptable". I don't believe this extreme polarity is doing anyone any favours, especially when it is adopted by people who do not have sufficient knowledge of a culture to actually decide what is or isn't acceptable, which is what happened to me very recently.

It had to happen sometime I guess: I have been accused of "cultural appropriation" of the voguing/ballroom scene. The OP, Angus Finlayson, has since been in touch with me to apologise, and to admit that he was mistaken in his original accusations. I have accepted his apology, but have decided to write about this because it raises some very interesting issues, elements that are only a small part of the overall "cultural appropriation" story, but which should be discussed anyway.
Firstly, this is not to deny that cultural appropriation happens, or even that I am completely guilt-free myself. No, I am not a Black or Latino/a or from a major city on either of America's East or West coasts. I am a white, able-bodied cismale, living in Manchester, England, though I am an Irish national (not to be confused with "Irish-American" or "Irish-anything else" - as a culture we Irish have our own pretty huge history of appropriation by others).

Cultural appropriation definitely happens. There has been a lot of discussion on social networks over the last few weeks about the "masked DJ" craze in Jersey Club, a perceived "cashing-in" on this relatively new, localised US scene by anonymous, white acts like Yolo Bear, DJ Hoodboi, Trippy Turtle and more, some of whom are from Europe. This debate was sparked by a Facebook post by Dirty South Joe, and has been raging steadily since, with some originators of the Jersey Club sound rightly apprehensive of having their hard work ignored in favour of anonymous Johnny-come-latelys not from their world hoovering up their gigs and hype. I am guessing that this ongoing discussion was in the background when Finlayson wrote his original tweet.

So no, this isn't to deny cultural appropriation, but to ask for a more nuanced, less knee-jerk approach to the term when required, and also to question the credentials of the people claiming cultural appropriation, where necessary. Of course, it seems obvious to me that this sort of logic should be applied to every and all accusations of cultural hegemony and discrimination (which, in itself, might be a luxury of my own white privilege) but right now the term "cultural appropriation" is in danger of being appropriated and used to police culture by people who actually have no qualifications, or right, to do so.

So what are my qualifications?


Sunday, 10 November 2013

bell hooks "Is Paris Burning?" 1992

If you're a fan of Paris Is Burning and vogue culture in general, then wrap your peepers around the following.

bell hooks (spelled with no capitals) is a respected writer and cultural critic, best known for her writings on race and gender. "Is Paris Burning?" is an essay by hooks from the Black Looks collection from 1992, and is essentially a critique of the film we all know and love.

I may not necessarily agree with everything hooks writes, but this essay is a very valuable reading, adding insights from a black person's p.o.v. that may be missing for many white/straight viewers of the film. I'm not going to republish the essay here but you can read it at this link:

Highly recommended! Thanks to Stephanie Davis for the link.

Friday, 8 November 2013

HOUSE OF SUAREZ Vogue Deco (Nov 16th, Liverpool)

House of Suarez proudly presents Vogue Deco and other stories, performing highlights of the company's choreographies this year and also some special performances from the House of Milan , House of Cards and also the House of ShoQlat! With a surprise appearance from the winners of our very own Realness category 2 years winning! Saturday 16th November as part of the Homotopia festival, show starts 6pm till 7pm at the Bluecoat tickets £10 & £8.00 0151 702 5324

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

TRACK MEET interview

I'M HOT 4 TRACK MEET. After two brilliant free mixtapes (featuring some of my favourite producers), some awesome looking parties, and a Tumblr full of insane pictures, I had to get the low down on who and what Track Meet is. I knew it was something to do with Ynfynyt Scroll (who I love anyways, and have covered on CVNTY before), so I sent him some questions to get his head round, to open his heart, and to inspire us all with Track Meet's universal love: 

What is Track Meet?

A DJ crew and nascent net label. We throw parties and play at other people’s parties and it all sort of runs concurrently alongside our own personal projects we have going. We’ve released two compilations thus far featuring mostly American but also some international artists, both of which we’re very proud of and both of which also encapsulate the sound we’re looking for as DJs and producers.

Who is Track Meet? 

Ynfynyt Scroll, AiR DJ and Shooknite [above].

Why is Track Meet?

Some time in 2010, Track Meet was founded by myself and Shooknite as a way to blend the worlds of music we were currently into. I came from a Detroit techno, Chicago house, Dutch electro-heavy background and he came from a fidget, garage, footwork, “bass music” type background, with southern rap being the major common denominator. We realized there was not only a lot of crossover between these music worlds, but that we were also intent on blending them rather forcefully in our sets. We began throwing parties and eventually we started throwing bigger, more immersive and curated ones and bringing in guests like Nguzunguzu and Zebra Katz and Dubbel Dutch, and some time in 2012 AiR DJ, who came from the same techno background as me and who had been my DJ and production partner for years, was integrated into Track Meet.

Another thing that was important for us in regard to why it was so necessary for us to form Track Meet is for the irl solidarity it brought us. Texas, while it does have many incredible, forward-thinking artists, is also incredibly huge and can feel very lonely for someone who has a very net-focused sensibility. We all push each other and shared ideas to form a kind of 3-person community that makes it feel a lot less isolated.

When / Where is Track Meet?

2010 – present, Dallas, TX

What the inspiration for this mixtape? 

In writing the description for the mixtape, I had no choice but to use the phrase “small-room club music”. It’s literally just the opposite of giant superclub, big-room sensibilities. Music that’s lean, evolves quickly, picks up different techniques and tendencies and casts them off just as fast. Our obsession with latin sounds comes out pretty strongly in this tape, as well as Track Meet’s grime leanings. None of this was really our doing, by the way, this is simply what our favorite producers aka the people we asked to be on this mixtape submitted. The only criteria we really gave to any of the producers who submitted tracks was that we were wanting it to have mostly latin-based sounds, but what we got was a very focused sound that mixes a lot of elements of bubbling and tuki bass with some of grime and techno. 

How did you get the artists together for it? 

Just by asking them. Pretty much everybody we asked said yes.

If TM was a film what would it be and why? 

A porn in which all the actors were wearing high performance sports clothing.

If it was a cologne how would it smell?

Like the smell of Coolwater in a locker room after the state championships.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Friday, 1 November 2013

TRUMPET & BADMAN Mix for Dummy Mag

LOVE LOVE LOVE these guys! Bringing the old school NY/NJ 90s house flavour back - as I mentioned below, their EP is one of my faves of the year and always gets rinsed when I play out. Expect an interview with these guys soon, and in the meantime here's a mix wot they dun for Dummy Mag: 

Trumpet & Badman - I Got The Love
Toyboy & Robin - Everything You Want
Montel - Can't Go Wrong
Shadow Dancer - Hydrate
Mista Men - All Of You
Pal Joey & Earth People - Reach Up To Mars (Martian Remix)
Bicep - Courtside Drama
KODIAK -  Dragon Drop (Eliphino Remix)
Trumpet & Badman - Love Keeps Changing
Leftwing & Kody - You Were (Original Mix)
Steve Poindexter - Happy Stick
Sinden - Ring Around The Moon
KODIAK -  Egyptian Kings
Trumpet & Badman - Go
Walter Ego - Heaven
Blake Baxter - Touch Me
Steve Poindexter - Chillin With The P
Trumpet & Badman - Bang Dis
Daniel Bell & DBX - Losing Control
Palace - Astral
Celeda & Danny Tenaglia - Music Is The Answer
Pal Joey & Earth People - Dance (Club Mix)