This gorgeous collection of images from last years FAFSWAG Ball were shot on black and white film and have only just had their negatives developed and digitised. Thank you to Photographer Ralph Brown for capturing these beautifully honest moments.
We’re pretty stoked to be able to work with the category winners of the 2015 FAFSWAG Pre-Ball. It’s important for us as artist to actively document the culture as it grows and is nurtured within the fringes of our visible queer community. Here are some honorable mentions from the Judges of Faf Swags 2015 Vogue Pre Ball…
Best Performance – Shakaiah
Stunt of the night – Alyssa
Best outfit – Leilani
Crowd Favorite – Thomas
Judges Favorite – Cassidy Cokane
Best Battle – Alexis & Alyssa
Perfect Tens – Kris Fox
Up and coming threat – Vincent
Peep the preview of the winners photoshoot with Pacific photographer Pati Solomona Tyrell.
By Jonathan Selu
The FAFSWAG Pre-Ball was definitely fierce. But if you’ve ever been to the FAFSWAG Ball, you knew it was going to be. What caught me off-guard was WHERE the Pre-Ball was. Watching stunning individuals werk that runway and proudly serve realness with every step and shade with every drop is the reason for going to a vogue ball. So I want you to think about what vogue’s all about.
You got an answer?
OK I’m bored, you can stop now…I’m just gonna tell you. The obvious answer is that vogue is a dance style that was made in the ballrooms of Harlem. But voguing is more than just some dance style. In the words of the immaculate Jaycee “It’s all about expressing who you are because that’s what vogue is.”
And that’s it. Vogue is about being you and telling your story and saying what you gotta say. Having the guts to walk the runway is actually a massive thing. A walker is literally serving up a big fat platter of ‘ME’. Now, keep that in mind and keep reading.
I am a proud tama Samoa. My culture means the world to me because it has shaped and formed who I am today, just as culture does for anyone. I am Hamo hard. BUT I’m also a gay man, and with that comes its own culture. In my daily life, I live both these identities. The sad thing is, most people don’t see me as a gay Samoan. They see me as gay and Samoan, as if these identities are exclusive and unrelated. In my life, I’ve had to try and find how I can be a gay Samoan man and it’s still a journey I’m on. So when I walked into FAFSWAG Pre-Ball and realised that the Maota Samoa was literally a traditional style fale Samoa, I got the shock of my life. Immediately I felt like two of my worlds had come crashing together and although I was excited to be at the event, I also felt a little weird being in a place that matai use for fono.
But what are fono for? Well, really, they are a space for talanoa; whether that’s telling stories, presenting opportunities, or discussing issues. Hold up. Isn’t that exactly what our voguers were doing? Were they not telling their stories, highlighting issues that the outside world don’t even know exist, and taking the opportunity to be totally themselves?
Answer: yes. Yes to all of that.
I had a realisation that the Pre-Ball wasn’t just some Poly event for young queer and trans* people. The Pre-Ball was a space for our Poly Rainbows to share their voice with the world, and be heard by a captive audience. Better than that, they were supported, encouraged and celebrated for having the balls to stand up there in front of the world and say “Fuck you, this is who I am. TRY and come for me, world!” So I started thinking Yass! Where else would you hold an event like this? Let’s take back our cultural spaces and tell the world, and our communities, just how much we matter. That we don’t have to be Poly and Rainbow but actually we can be Poly Rainbows, thank you! The voices of our young people need to be heard and we need spaces for those voices to be expressed however they want to express it, and still be heard and validated.
As if this wasn’t enough, I started to think about the po siva in Samoa before European contact. It was a celebration of sexuality and the beauty of the body. It was a space to dance and express yourself. It was what I was watching happen right in front of me as the DJ hit it with “Bitch! Why you mad? Cause my pussy pops severely. And yours don’t?”. And where did these happen? Oh that’s right, in a fale.bI think it’s pretty obvious what I’m saying here…
So, as the night closed, I felt like although I didn’t walk, I actually had the chance to witness greatness. The first time that I’d seen young Rainbow Polys serving up realness back to the communities that mock them and make them feel lesser than human. This is us. This is who we are. And we are entitled to our culture just as much as the straight and cis-gender members of our communities. And that gives me life.
As part of the FAFSWAG Pre-Ball our amazing hosts Jaycee and Darren are offering a one off Vogue Workshop. Open to all this workshop is for everyone, from beginners to advanced, If you need help with brushing up on your runway or just wanna have a casual voguing session with the team then you wont wanna miss out on this awesome opportunity. Come down to the Dance Studio at the Faculty of Creative Arts M.I.T and check in with our Pre-ball host to find out more about the event and what judges are looking for.
Gold coin donation :)
FAFSWAG artist Moe Laga, Pati Solomona Tyrell and Tanu Gago were part of a group exhibition entitled Queer Resistance curated by Kirsty Fong during February of 2015. The artist showcased works from previous shows including Poly Typical at Fresh Gallery Otara and new works from Between Wind and Water from Enjoy Public Art Gallery in Wellington.
Cameron Ah Loo-Matamua, Léuli Eshraghi, Kiran Foster, Tanu Gago, Cecilia Kavara Verran, Moe Laga, Emilie Rākete, Molly Rangiwai McHale, David Roil, Sangeeta Singh, Tuafale Tanoa’i (a.k.a. Linda T.), Ron Te Kawa, Luisa Tora, Pati Solomona Tyrell, Anna Vo
QUEER RESISTANCE explores the multiplicities of our identities encircled in deeply interconnected social and political struggles through honouring our revolutionary roots of LGBTQI liberation movements in Aotearoa and around the world.
The queer liberation movement was born out of resistance against police brutality, harassment, discriminatory laws, and a myriad of other forms of targeted injustices faced predominantly by working class people of colour sexuality and gender minorities.
In celebrating the collective struggle for queer and trans* liberation, QUEER RESISTANCE seeks to intentionally re-energise dialogues in our communities to encompass all representations of genders and sexualities in decolonial, anti-capitalist, intersectional and intergenerational frameworks.
Unfortunately FAFSWAG aren’t producing any events for this years PRIDE festival. But we look forward to participating and engaging in some of the awesome events being produced by people in the community.
FINE FATALE present their new showcase at the end of feb entitled FREAKSHOW, THE PASIFIKA FLOAT is going down again for this years PRIDE parade, THE PASIFIKA PICNIC will be sure to bring every one together for an awesome social day at the beach and KELSTON KWEENZ grace the BIG GAY OUT stage with some Poly flavour from the WEST SIDE.