There is a Vogue Ballroom Scene in Australia who’s roots come from The USA, it is difficult for me to explain so I will quote directly from Wikipedia
“Ball culture, drag ball culture, the house-ballroom community, the ballroom scene or ballroom culture and similar terms describe a young African-American and Latino underground LGBTQ+ subculture that originated in New York City. Beginning in the late 19th century, members of the underground LGBTQ+ community in large cities began to organize their own cross-dressing masquerade balls, both in opposition to laws that banned individuals from wearing clothes associated with the opposite gender and earlier cross-dressing balls that, while racially integrated for the participants, were usually led and judged by white people. Attendees dance, vogue, walk, pose, perform, lip-sync, and model in numerous drag and performance competition categories for trophies and prizes. Many participants in ball culture also belong to groups known as “houses”, where chosen families of friends live in households together, forming relationships and communities similar to their families of origin from which they may be estranged”
The Overall Mother and founder of Vogue Ballroom in Australia is Bhenji Ra and Bhenji is also Overall Mother of House of Slè.
The founders or leader of each House is called Mother, their second is called God Mother and all the members of the House are called her Children and her Family.
I am not an expert in Drag Ball Culture or the world of Voguing.
But I happened to meet the curator of the pinnacle event of the House Ballroom Community in Australia – The Sissy Ball, her name is Kilia Pahulu also Godmother of The House of Slé, we talked about The Sissy Ball, and I was saying to her that I had done just about everything there was to do and I was looking for a new adventure and she said simply “Why don’t you open a House?”, taken aback I was lost for words but she went on “You have so many children” and like a flash of light an idea was planted.
I was unsure about it, so I asked a young boy whom I feel very maternal towards what he thought and he started crying, telling me it would mean so much to him if I opened a house, I asked another young person, a non binary friend who said with love and emotion that they would be honoured to join my house. This made realise, though I did not quite understand what a House entailed, it was important to the children of my community, and I am after all a community mother, so establish a House I shall!
So as soon as I got home at 3am I registered The House of Darling.
Darling is a gorgeous word, I call all my loved ones darling and everyone calls me darling too, not just that, the heart of Gay Sydney is Darlinghurst and my House’s residence is Universal Hotel on Oxford St in Darlinghurst. So I will be Mother Darling, and all the members of my House will be my Darlings! We call people we like and love darling and Darling is a name that will live on even if I decided to retire or expire..
The chosen family is formed with love
I love my chosen family, my gay family, we are not related by blood but feelings of love unite us and connect us, so I guess bringing everyone under my House is just officiating what we feel already. Not everyone will compete, a select few will represent our house in competitions while many of us will work in the background to guide and protect and establish The House of Darling’s name and good reputation for longevity.
Community Development is one of my many interests, so for myself it makes perfect sense to me to gather a group of the loved ones and establish a House, because in essence I’m creating a community and I will work towards strengthening other House communities through my House.
The House of Darling will be unique because it will be the very first Inner City House, certainly the very first Eastern Suburbs House and the first Sydney Structured House. It will be unique in that a prerequisite of membership is voluntary community service within LGBT Community several times a year and also a responsibility to help open doors for the other Houses…anyway I digress..
The following week, I contacted Kilia to express my interest, and to also acknowledge I know nothing and that I wanted to establish my house in a respectful way so as not to offend any other Houses in Australia or their Mothers, and Lia dropped the BOMB -to legitimise my House respectfully I would need to present myself to all the other Houses and their Mothers at the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras 2022 Sissy Ball at the Sydney Town Hall in one week!
The problem with me and things that I believe are important is that I will do whatever it takes especially if it is within my power to do it to get something done, regardless of consequence.
So even though I knew nothing about voguing, thenHouse Ballroom Scene or their community, I prepared myself for my presentation to the other Houses. I am a retired showgirl, drag shows were one of the very few employment options open to transgender women once upon a time so at least I was not a virgin to the stage but I was still incredibly nervous about my presentation.
My wardrobe was thankfully not an issue, I am dressed by Camilla for all special events, a beautiful not yet released kaftan was selected for me to wear wear already, I just needed to go a little bit extra, thankfully Monique Kelly a legend of Les Girls the most famous Drag Show in Australian History, of which I am an alumni, lent me the most breathtaking black lace and bead encrusted cape I had ever seen and I wore one of my own floral crown creations from my label Katherine Wolfgramme Handmade, I must say, I looked spectacular – but I was still nervous and I couldn’t back down because I had to establish my House for my Chosen Family.
It took courage for me to go into a world unfamiliar to me, but life is live by the brave, and by golly gosh, I have always had guts.
I was presented at the very opening of the Sissy Bally, my presentation to the other Houses was during the LSS aka Legend Statement Stars and it was the perfect way to be introduced to all the other Houses in Australia. The reason why I am considered a legend within the ballroom culture is because I’m a transgender woman of colour who first performed on stage over thirty years ago and also am considered one the longest reigning queen of colour anywhere in Australia.. I never thought that, that’s how I’m perceived among the queens of colour within the Australian LGBT Community. Here is a video of my entrance.
So I shall be throwing a ball to launch The House of Darling on September 1, the first day of Spring. Wish me luck!