Throwback Thursday: Paris is Burning

Welcome to the ball! Director Jennie Livingston‘s award-winning and sensationally entertaining 1990 classic Paris is Burning introduced us to the drag balls of Harlem and we’re eternally grateful.

Voguing, at the time, was an underground form of dance created and perfected by the African-American and Latino gay communities. It burst onto the scene when Madonna took voguing for herself and popularized it. But with Paris is Burning, we also got to meet the originators of the form.

This landmark documentary provides a vibrant snapshot of the 1980s through the eyes of New York City’s African American and Latinx Harlem drag-ball scene. Made over seven years, Paris is Burning offers an intimate portrait of rival fashion “houses,” from fierce contests for trophies to house mothers offering sustenance in a world rampant with homophobia, transphobia, racism, AIDS, and poverty. Featuring legendary voguers, drag queens, and trans women – including Willi Ninja, Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, and Venus XtravaganzaParis is Burning brings it, celebrating the joy of movement, the force of eloquence, and the draw of community.

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