With only one month to go until the biggest House of Suarez: Vogue Ball Manchester has ever seen, I sat down with House of Suarez Father, Darren Suarez to get the back stage goss on Vogue Ball!
Brace yourself for all the behind-the-scenes deets on how it all started and what to expect from next month’s underwater themed spectacular!
Can you tell us a little about House of Suarez and the inspiration behind it?
House of Suarez was inspired by coming out onto the gay scene in the late-80’s, where I first started voguing in night clubs.
Malcolm McClaren’s song Deep in Vogue was really important to me – if you listen to the lyrics it’s completely committed to the dance style and the culture. Around the same time, Madonna had a hit with Vogue and the documentary Paris is Burning was released. This had a huge impact on me. The popularity was short-lived, and voguing didn’t really make it big, or into the mainstream. It went out of style again and was only really popular on the underground gay scene.
In 1992, I pursued a career in commercial dance, and then between 2001 and 2004 trained at Northern Contemporary in Leeds. Afterwards, I wanted to bring those influences together, voguing and my classical training.
I formed House of Suarez in 2006, and in 2008 we collaborated with two other organisations to produce, ‘Liverpool Is Burning, The Grand Vogue Ball’ at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool.
This was the first Vogue Ball as we know it today. I realised the vogue scene had sort of gone off the map, especially in the UK, so I wanted to do something about it.
We went right back to the roots of ball culture. I wanted to celebrate vogue ball culture, and also develop it to embrace all walks of life, making it inclusive with no prejudices. Allowing walkers to do their own thing and fuse it with the hard technique.
Then in 2010 we went independent and started producing more events following this model, which I’m incredibly proud of.
Next month will be the biggest Vogue Ball yet. Why is it so popular?
I think it has something to do with exposure. We’re all watching programmes like Pose and RuPaul which have basically taken over the planet, we also have access to social media. Remember, there was no internet when I came out and experienced the voguing culture – Wiki wasn’t about until 2001. Now people have greater exposure to it, and more opportunities to access that culture.
What’s your favourite moment from any of the Vogue Balls?
Each ball is really special to me – the talent is real. But one Vogue Ball that stands out was the Space Odyssey Vogue Ball. Avi’ance Urrutia was there, former European father of the House of Milan and overall father of the House of Yamamoto. He came as a judge and had helped a lot in developing the House of Suarez and our work. He got up on the walk, crowned us as a legendary house and that really rocked my world!
There is no greater acknowledgement of your work than to be recognised as a legendary house in the vogue scene, especially by the community that brought you up. It’s just so special when the community acknowledges your contribution to the scene, it’s really amazing.
And the most embarrassing moment?
In 2013, the theme was Gods & Monsters. One of the walkers designed a huge, 7-foot Bride of Frankenstein headpiece. He alone was 6” 5’ without heels, so 7” foot with heels.
He was well-known for going way out, way beyond the scale. He was about to walk out, he tipped forward and his legs were akimbo – long legs with big heels just swaying in the breeze as we tried to get him out of the headpiece. It took just under an hour. Looking back it’s funny, but at the time it was super scary.
What should the audience expect to see next month?
The opening is gonna be big! We’ll see The King of the Sea battle with the Queen of the Underworld, beautiful aerial choreography, and amazing costumes – figureheads of ships and fierce sea creatures from the depths of the ocean.
We’re tapping into the contemporary vogue scene with the choreography, some lyrical, commercial voguing, lots of storytelling, lip-syncing, battles, sudden death final of the solo category and the sex sirens slay it for the trophy!
So what will next year’s theme be?
I won’t give you that… but I will say it’ll be back on dry land and things are gonna get dark and twisted!
Well, it’s fair to say we are suitably AMPED for Vogue Ball 2020.
If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, there are only a few left.
For those who have already bagged a ticket, head over to our Ultimate Shade blog to learn some essential ball lingo and the history of voguing!
House of Suarez + Contact: Vogue Ball 2020
Sat 29 Feb, 7:00 pm
Manchester Academy 1, Oxford Road M13 9PR