Bhenji Ra on Maintaining the Integrity of the Vogue Ball

July 29th 2019

Bhenji Ra Rehearsal

Image credit: Jadzea Allen 

House of Slé mother and multi-expressive artist Bhenji Ra sat down with the Arts & Culture team to unpack ballroom culture, the Asia-Pacific face of trans and gender diverse communities, and the momentum of the FBi SMAC award winning Sissy Ball. Watch it below.

Born from the underground trans communities of Harlem, the ballroom scene provided a space for true expression and acceptance. Forms of dance, vogue, cat-walking and performance offered a glamorous escape from reality. Modern ballroom culture has evolved with trans visibility, meaning these shows have risen from the underground and into sub-culture. This acceptance is seen in the LGBTQI+ community as a step towards the extended support of Sydney’s music and arts scenes.

While excited about the increasing opportunities of trans visibility, Bhenji Ra remains cautious of on-trend consumption of Ballroom culture.

“The way we consume it should not be seen as ‘on trend’. That implies it can be disposed of as easily as it is accessed”

In its second year, Sydney’s Sissy Ball returned in 2019 as a beacon for the Asia-Pacific’s ballroom community. Curated by Ra, the event’s extravagant competition is matched only by its supportive energy. Ra’s vision provides a space for its participants to flaunt their true selves while showing the world they are no novelty.


Event footage Courtesy of Sissy Ball
Extra footage and editing: Jaz Allen
Executive producer: Anna May Kirk
Music: ‘King of Vogue’ by Dashaun Wesley



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