Phrases and Words From Ballroom Culture We Still Use Today

We can thank the web for the brand new slangs, phrases, and phrases. However some aren’t precisely “new” — we typically use phrases from ballroom tradition that date again as early because the Seventies. And most of those phrases got here from the African-People and Latinx of Harlem who had been members of the LGBTQ+ neighborhood.

However how far can we hint this as soon as extraordinarily unique and underground ballroom tradition?

How Ballroom Culture Began

There’ve all the time been drag pageants a long time and a long time earlier than, however within the 1968 documentary movie The Queen — the place a handful of drag queens had been documented as they participated in Miss All-America Camp Magnificence Contest — one black drag queen, Crystal LaBeija, was filmed angrily protesting concerning the outcomes of the pageant (as a result of she solely managed to bag the third runner up title). She claims that the outcomes had been rigged.

Crystal LaBeija was so upset concerning the outcomes of the pageant — she believed the winner (Rachel Harlow) was favored as a result of she was white and Crystal was not. Due to this, she now not participated in different pageants due to the discrimination in direction of non-Caucasian drag queens. Not lengthy after, Crystal labored with one other black drag queen and hosted the primary ever ball that was unique to black drag queens. Finally, they based the Home of LaBeija. This was believed to be the “birth” of modern-day balls.

Words From Ballroom Culture You May Not Know Originated There:

Earlier than Paris Is Burning made some phrases mainstream, and earlier than RuPaul popularized them, lots of the phrases we use got here from ballroom tradition.

(Throwing) Shade and Studying defines “throwing shade” as “a subtle way of disrespecting or ridiculing someone verbally or nonverbally.” However the phrase has ballroom tradition roots.

In Paris Is Burning, Dorian Corey explains, “When you are all of the same thing, then you have to go to the fine point. In other words, if I’m a black queen and you’re a black queen, we can’t call each other ‘black queens’ because we’re both black queens. That’s not a read — that’s just a fact. So then we talk about your ridiculous shape, your saggy face, your tacky clothes. Then reading became a developed form, where it became shade. Shade is, I don’t tell you you’re ugly, but I don’t have to tell you, because you know you’re ugly. And that’s shade.”


Earlier than Madonna launched the music Vogue, it was already a very-intricate and highly-stylized sort of dance within the underground ballroom scene in Harlem. Voguing was impressed by Egyptian hieroglyphs and fashions’ poses in magazines.

To today, voguing remains to be constantly evolving — it now has extra acrobatic, gymnastic, and athletic strikes. Thus, why voguing has classes now like “vogue fem,” “new way,” and “old way.” Some credit score Paris Dupree to be the inventor of the dance vogue — however that is disputed.


Realness is a class within the ballroom scene that an individual might take part in — it’s about how “real” an individual might be able to cross off as whichever particular class it’s about. The preferred ones are “femme queen realness,” “butch queen realness,” “executive realness,” “military realness,” and many extra. For example, if somebody walks within the “femme queen realness” class, they’ll present their finest effort to appear to be a cisgender lady. The judges will then decide who appears to be like essentially the most plausible among the many opponents.


We’ve seen feedback like “yaaas kween!” everywhere in the net earlier than. Some might have even commented it in your posts. However the time period additionally has ballroom origins. This was an expression of help to different drag queens or whoever was strolling in a sure class — it’s nonetheless just about the identical to today. Besides it’s not unique to the ballroom neighborhood anymore — even the Oxford dictionary added the word final 2017!

Credit to the Group!

Many phrases got here from ballroom tradition and a few of us aren’t even conscious of it! As a lot as these phrases and phrases appear handy so as to add to our lexicon, we should always all be delicate in order that we don’t find yourself appropriating the ballroom tradition that was as soon as a secret haven of the LGBTQ+ neighborhood.

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