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Entertainment, New South Wales, News

Pioneering ballroom event to dazzle Western Sydney

A sold-out ballroom showdown is set to transform Western Sydney’s Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre into an underground vogue dancefloor this weekend. 

The West Ball 2 will take over the Turbine Hall this Saturday 13 March for one night only of fabulous entertainment rarely seen in the suburbs.

The event is curated by Jamaica Slé of the House of Slé and Father Xander Silky of the House of Silky, two of the most prominent houses in the country.

“It’s going to be an incredible event, and we’re super excited,” Xander told Pink Advocate.

“It’s really a pioneering event in that no one’s ever thrown queer parties in Western Sydney… it’s [previously] forced people to travel into the inner West or the city to find safe spaces.

“This is about reclaiming that space in Western Sydney for us.” 

The modern ballroom scene, as depicted in Paris is Burning and Kiki, was born in 1970s New York City, with queer and trans communities of colour competing in various categories that mix performance, dance, and modelling. 

The Australian scene began in South West Sydney around five years ago before quickly taking off nationally, remaining predominantly made up of LGBTIQ+ First Nations and people of colour.

The much-anticipated West Ball 2 is bringing ballroom back to its roots to let individuals in the Western suburbs be a part of this cultural movement.

Performers will compete in categories including Beginners Vogue, Sneaker vs Sneaker, Pretty Boy Realness vs Area Realness, and an open-to-all performance for all gender expressions.

“A ball encapsulates more than just vogue – that’s just what’s most commonly associated with ballroom,” said Xander.

“A ball is really a safe space for LGBTIQ+ people to come and be themselves and express themselves without any judgement.

“It’s a place that celebrates femininity, it celebrates masculinity, it celebrates all identities.”

Xander said that the community must remember that ballroom was created by trans women of colour.

“That’s something we really encourage in Australia,” he said.

“We really want to keep creating safe spaces for that community here.”

The founding father of the House of Silky, Xander said that house parents often play the role of adoptive parent to young queer people who may have been rejected by their families.

“It’s a role that I’m grateful to have, the power of it and the importance of it within queer communities,” he said.

“[Historically] people would be kicked out of home and have no one else to turn to, and these queer elders would get these kids off the street and take them in, make sure they had a home and an education, find work.

“That same structure still exists today in a lot of houses.

“We hold true to what it means to be a house parent and have that family bond.

“People think Australia is now more accepting, but it’s still very real that people are being kicked out of home and bashed, and there are still trans women who can’t walk down the road.

“That’s why ballroom is so necessary ­– as long as queer people are oppressed in the world, there will always be a ballroom scene.”

Saturday’s West Ball 2 will stream live on Facebook from 6 to 11 pm.

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