Coastal VA’s Ball Culture Celebrates at the Summer Finale Mini Ball

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On September 16, the area’s house families held their Mid Summer Mini Ball at LWDance in Chesapeake. In true ball fashion, the contest kicked off way after midnight when competitors from eight of the area’s houses took the floor to compete in eight categories: OTA Face, OTA Runway, OTA Performance, FF Realness, BQ Realness, and OTA Sex Siren.

Cash prizes worth over $1000 were awarded. The Commentator of The Night was Big Boy Lloyd, renowned Ball commentator from Wilson, NC and Atlanta.

Ball culture was made famous in the 1990 documentary “Paris is Burning,” which chronicles the African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender communities involved New York City’s culture.

Houses, also called families, are LGBTQ groups which band together under a house mother (sometimes a drag queen or transgender person) or house father. They are loose-knit confederacies of “children” who adopt a family name, usually swiped from a fashion designer, and adhere to the rules set up by the presiding mother or father.

Each house competes in elaborately-staged local, regional, and national ball competitions. Contestants, adhering to a very specific category or theme, must “walk” (much like a fashion model’s runway) and subsequently be judged on criteria including the “realness” of their drag, the beauty of their clothing and their dancing ability.

Ball culture was brought into the mainstream after Madonna’s “Vogue” replicated the dance style of the “walk.”

The Summer Finale Mini Ball was open to the public and co-sponsored by LIFE757 and Access AIDS Care. LIFE is an Access AIDS program for young African-American men ages 16-29 that have sex with other men. LIFE is funded through a cooperative agreement that ACCESS AIDS Care has with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an HIV prevention initiative.

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