BRATTON, Elegance. Bound by Night.

(Portland, OR): Wildlife Press, 2014. First edition. Oblong 12mo. Unpaginated. Superb photo-documentation of the wildy creative and competitive House Ballroom scene. Originally stemming from the Masquerade Balls of 1920s Harlem, todays scene, which spans the entirety of the United States, consists of numerous houses, founded by the black cross-dressing ‘Queens’ of the New York underground in the 1980s. The “houses” were responsible for nurturing tens of thousands of black gay and trans youth through adulthood, who had no other family to call on. The houses competed against one another in Ballroom Vogue dance competitions in which contestants acted out scenes of Egyptian Hieroglyph, fashion poses and ghetto fighting within the context of ‘slaying’ the other opponent. The book is a fascinating chronicle of House Ballroom Music and Vogue Femme performance. Published in an edition of 500 copies which have all but disappeared, this is just one of five copies bound in green cloth and housed in the publisher’s matching slipcase.


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