Old Skool Ball Music (aka Great Warm Up Beatz)

Looking for something to get you in the mood for the catwalk? Need a warm-up before rehearsals? Are you playing Deity and need a hot take on the genealogy of ball music?Check it…

1. Tronco Traxx’s classic 90s ball scene dance track “Walk 4 Me” (1995) Serve! Butch queen up in pumps! This one is referenced directly in the play, but Tronco Traxx had several other ball tracks that also reached instant classic status (see more below).

2. David Ian Xtravaganza in David DePino’s mix of “Elements of Vogue” (1989). David DePino was the honorary DJ of House of Xtravaganza, and was frequently spinning at the Paradise Garage and Tracks, two clubs popular with legendary House voguers. It’s estimated that 2500-3000 dancers would show up to to DePino’s sets at Tracks on Tuesday nights. “Tracks was very gay, very streetwise and rather hardcore. Not sissy but cunty [or a form of exaggerated, clever, powerful femininity]. It was black and Latin gay, plus women, mostly dykes” (Adam Goldstone, a Tracks regular).

3. Famed producer Malcolm McClaren partnered with Bootzilla Orchestra for “Deep in Vogue,” (1989) featuring the vogue performances of Willi Ninja, whom he knew through DJ Johnny Dynell (a member of House of Xtravaganza).

Of course, all these PRE-DATE Madonna’s visits to the Tracks club and her borrowing of ball culture in her song and video for “Vogue” (1990), which featured Luis and Jose Xtravaganza as dancers, and lifted drum and synth patterns from “Elements of Vogue” (above).

4. Two other Tronco Traxx hits for your playlist are the 1996 “Runway (As a House)” and “C.U.N.T. (She’s Cunt, She’s Pussy). FactMag’s Naill Connolly says said of these tracks:

The raw 909 beats and campy-but-cutting vocal chants, incorporating a lot of gay/black/drag slang and runway instructions, are elements that are still very prevalent in the genre today.

“I love both of those tunes but ‘Runway (As A House)’ is Tronco’s forgotten classic in my eyes. It uses the elements I’ve described above, but adds a bit more sheen, and most importantly of all, it uses the infamous “HA” sound that has become synonymous with ballroom, vogue femme dance styles and the signature “dip” move. The “HA” sound was originally used by Masters At Work in 1991’s seminal ‘The Ha Dance’, and can still be heard all over ballroom nearly 25 years later, most notably on MikeQ’s ‘The Ha Dub Rewerk’d’ on Fade To Mind, and Kingdom’s ‘Stalker Ha’.

Ball Vocab 6: Other Lingo of Ball & House Culture

In this series of “Ball Vocab” posts, the vocabulary and descriptions have been adapted from several excellent and comprehensive lists maintained by House of Enigma, and reorganized here for ease of use in the rehearsal room. Terms in red appear in the playtext. Please note that definitions and slang are, by nature, flexible, and may change in specificity or connotation depending on who you’re talking to.  Lists are not comprehensive.

Beat one’s face
To apply the perfect amount of makeup, perfectly. For example: “her face is beat!”

Bring (It)
A challenge; call of defiance; “Come on down, you’re the next contestant…” Sometimes contestants are allowed to “call out” a rival

Come (for)
To challenge; “Don’t come for me, ’cause you don’t want it…”

Craft(ed)
Obtained by illegal means — credit card or check writing scams usually; “Miss Thing, that Galliano gown was crafted….” (synonym: Stunkus)

Father/Mother
A house leader (without regard to gender)

Feel (it)
To be totally absorbed in the moment

Live (verb)
(Rhymes with “give”) to enjoy oneself immensely; “I lived at that last ball!”

Mopping
Shoplifting

Pay (it)
To ignore and move on, as in an unfavorable judges’ decision; “Pay it. We’ll get her after the ball”

Prince(ss)
That son or daughter most likely to take the lead as mother or father, should the current parents not continue their role; “Heir to the Throne”

See
Acknowledge or give credit; “No shade, but I don’t see it”.

Uglina
Fictional character created to represent unfavorable elements of the ball scene: excessive shade, petty bickering, etc.