It’s been 25 years since Paris Is Burning, Jennie Livingston’s award-winning 1991 documentary about New York’s drag ball culture, made stars of talents like Willie Ninja and legends of personalities like Dorian Corey and Venus Xtravaganza.
The city’s ball scene is still going strong, thanks to a whole new generation of club kids and performers inspired by the cult classic — and in some instances in spite of it — so we’re long overdue for an update.
Now Thump — Vice Media’s channel devoted to electronic music and club culture — has teamed up with Axe for Night Visions, a look at the contemporary ball scene and its stars.
While Paris Is Burning spotlighted events in Harlem ballrooms, the first episode of this three-part mini doc brings the action downtown. We get a peek at promoter Jack Mizrahi’s Vogue Knights at XL Nightclub — inside Manhattan’s infamous Out Hotel — a kind of weekly workshop for vogue performances that attracted stars like Rihanna and Janelle Monae in its original location at the now-shuttered 39th Street club Esquelita. Meanwhile, the children on the runway at Symba McQueen’s Red Ball basically redefine the word “fierce.”