Voguing is a type of dance inspired by the poses found on the pages of Vogue Magazine. It was popularized by queer people of color in the 1960s and 70s. “It was an outlet for people in the community to come together, to have a safe sanctuary, to have a safe place” says Joquese Whitfield, a dancer and instructor who teaches voguing at Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco .
Whitfield says there are five elements of voguing: cat walk, duck walk, spins, dips and hands. The cat walk is a stylized sashay, in which you step on the balls of your feet and swing the hips deeply. The duck walk is squatted foot kicking movements, very similar to the Russian kick. Dips involve dropping to the floor, often with one leg back and one pointing outstretched. The hands constantly in motion with big sweeping motions or quick lyrical movements.
Watch a video featuring the core five voguing moves:
Taking moves from the studio to the street
At a recent voguing workshop, heavy beats streamed out of the speakers as the students whipped their hands about at sharp angles, dropping to the floor and then strutting across the studio. Michaela Taylor was one of the students at Dance Mission Theater that day. “I’m very small, maybe five feet tall, but voguing makes me feel big!” Taylor says. “I love it. Joquese tells us that voguing is about self love, and self love is the best love. That really stuck with me.”
Taylor says voguing helps her overcome challenges. "I have my moments when I’m shy," Taylor says. "When I get uncomfortable in situations I’ll just start dancing, so I can be less uncomfortable." Although she practices at the studio, she has integrated voguing into her everyday life. "When I’m waiting on a bus or something, I’ll put in my headphones and start dancing. People will start staring at me, and I look at them like, yeah, I’m dancing."
Into the mainstream
Voguing has gone from the underground to the mainstream. "Now you can see voguing in today's music videos from Beyonce to Britney Spears," Whitfield says. "People from different areas of the world vogue differently from each other but everyone has the same elements." says Whitfield.
"Vogue is a dance form," Whitfield says. "But not only is it a dance form, it's a way of life. It's a culture."
Want to learn? Here are some Bay Area studios that’ll help you get started in the art of voguing:
ODC, San Francisco
Technique classes at 7:30pm and a choreography class at 8:30pm every Thursday.