Rainbow Rant: Ballroom blitz

Cameron Scott

In modern history, gay and queer culture has had many different movements.

From the masquerade balls of the 19th century to the modern drag scene, gay people across the globe have invented many ways to express themselves en masse. Most of these queer subcultures started underground — attended strictly by those in the know — only to move above ground and become big business in later years (see: the drag and leather movements).

Lately, there has been increased interest in the underground scene known as ballroom, with television shows such as FX's “Pose,” a scripted series set in early 1980s New York City, and Viceland's reality show “My House,” filmed in more recent times. But this leaves me with a question: Is ballroom the last bastion of what used to be underground gay culture?

The scene has spread across the globe, leaping from the States to as far away as Russia, and pop culture has adopted the scene's language, including words like “yaas” and “fierce.” But what happens when these catchphrases become old news? What will be the new gay thing?

One subculture that comes to mind would be disco. There was a moment in time when disco was very underground, but the scene ended up becoming so big that there was a big backlash within the American public that led to the music subgenre's demise. While I'm sure the ballroom scene won't experience the same kind of fate, one could say that with a genre like disco, things would have been better had the mainstream never discovered it.

When certain subgenres become popular, there is almost always a watering down of the culture. It happens with music, art, clothing, etc. The interesting thing with ballroom culture is how it thrives on being underground. The scene cannot survive with out the raw, DIY element that has made it so dynamic.

There are certain aspects of culture that should remain sacred to the communities to which they are indigenous. Too many times in history there have been moments where a culture is hijacked, taken over and remixed into something that it isn't. The gatekeepers of ballroom culture should work hard to make sure this does not happen to their scene. Ballroom has always been welcoming to everyone, but in this day and age, and with all of this newfound attention, maybe the doorways to the scene should be closed, and a big sign posted that reads, “You can't sit with us.”