On 13 June this year, the day after the shooting at Orlando’s LGBTQ nightclub Pulse, thousands of people headed down to Soho, London to hold a vigil for the 49 deceased. At the vigil’s peak, Jason A Cameron AKA Jay Jay Revlon from the House of Revlon, and friends BamBam Khan and D’Relle Khan from the House of Khan, formed a circle and brought the decades-old tradition of voguing out onto the streets.
In an interview with The Fader, Cameron explained the significance of vogueing on the day: “Vogue always brings people together, no matter if you can vogue or you can't vogue[...] They [the victims at Pulse] danced. They were just dancing. That's what we wanted to do; we wanted to dance, and make everyone feel love and happiness and joy — and not to forget about the pain, but to place it into a positive place.”
While many associate the voguing dance style with a specific time in Harlem’s ballroom culture in the 1980s and 1990s, it has recently flourished with the Kiki scene. This evolution has been captured in Sara Jordenö’s film Kiki, which documents New York Houses such as Galliano, Pucci, and Juicy Couture. The film is featured in Jocks&Nerds issue 20.
In London, Peckham-born Cameron has been at the heart of the voguing scene with his parties English Breakfast London and Taste the Rainbow, and has formed his own House of Tea, while remaining a part of the iconic New York House of Revlon. He is also a professional dancer, choreographer, and dance and fitness instructor, who has performed for the likes of BBC News and Nike. His own group Xellorate Dance Company performed for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Cameron spoke to Jocks&Nerds before his party at the Ace Hotel Takeover this Sunday 24 July. Along with DJ Princess Butch, he will be hosting the Taste the Rainbow vogue ball in the 100 Room on the seventh floor.
What were you first memories of being impressed by dancing or a dancer?
When I saw the music video to Sean Paul’s 'Like Glue’. I saw the dancers and was stuck with dancehall, which is within my heritage. I've always loved dancehall and was impressed with how the dancers could express such elegance with hardcore battle dance.
When were your first forays in London nightlife and were there any particular DJs, venues or parties that influenced you?
The first time was through the gay scene. The first time I heard a DJ play ballroom music was DJ Biggy C at an event that used to happen at a hidden nightclub in Vauxhall. It was a great time. I was young – around 16 – and partying and had no money. It was just about the music.
When did you start battling and create your own House?
I started battling in 2012 and walked my first ball in Holland. It was put on by the mother of House of Vineyard, Amber Vineyard. It was a great ball and I got to see and experience Mother Leiomy Maldonado Amazon.
I started my Kiki house in November last year and joined the legendary international icon House of Revlon around the same time.
How important is the vogue and ballroom scene to the LGBT community?
Very important. The ballroom scene has historically brought queer people of colour together, giving them a space to be free, part of a family. This rolls over to the 21st century where it still speaks the same language. But in terms of voguing, not enough LGBT people know about it or understand it. It's deeper than a dance style, like ballet.
Ballroom is a place of family and voguing binds that with expression, as well as all the other 100 different dance categories.
Do your events share the community aspect as the Kiki scene in NYC?
It 100% share the same community aspect. I don't do Kiki events in the London ballroom scene but my event shares the same thoughts as the Kiki and ballroom scene in NYC. I love the drama and all of that but in the end, we are still family and friends.
For example, English Breakfast London is a voguing night, a function which started with myself and Sydney UltraOmni where we call for the drag queens, trans men and women, and all the gay boys and girls to come into this space and express themselves with no fear.
Do you travel abroad for battles and how do overseas balls compare to London?
Well as we know, travel is expensive but I never care... I travel a lot. This year alone, five times already with two more in the pulling to attend balls. Travelling is very important to me as I'm so inspired by Paris, New York, etc.
In terms of the London Ballroom Scene compared to others, we need so much work but we getting there, one English Breakfast at a time. Paris is on fire. It took a of couple years and I'm very pleased with where the London scene is at, with the balls from [Houses] Revlon, Tea, Khan, UltraOmni, Mizrahi. These houses are impacting the scene by storm and I'm so happy to know, friend, support and collaborate with them.
Do films like Paris is Burning and How Do I Look provide an accurate view of the ballroom scene?
Both some what true but Kiki is the truest for me as I live in that scene now.
What can we expect on the seventh floor from Taste The Rainbow on 24 July?
Colours, Skittles, cuntyness, wow factors, voguing down, runway divas, love, family, London ballroom scene and English Breakfast London.
You gunna expect all this with some hot tea.
What do you have lined up for the rest of 2016?
English Breakfast London every third Thursday of the month. Next one is on 18 August.