Eurovision: House of Suarez Euro Ball
The ‘mother’ of Liverpool’s voguing scene prepares a Eurovision party
Liverpool is preparing to host The Eurovision Song Contest and Darren Suarez is having a ball. Quite literally.
Darren, 49, the doyen of the city’s vogue ballroom scene, is planning a big Eurovision-themed party called The Euro Ball. It will feature the region’s top vogue ‘houses’ – tight-knit groups of dancers – trading spins, dips and hand performances on the runway as they battle for prizes in front of a crowd of up to 1000 people.
Darren said, “Each house will pick a country that competes in Eurovision and interpret its finest moments in vogue categories including lip sync fantasy, realness, femme and choreography. We’ve chosen Spain because my dad’s Spanish. We’ve been studying Spain’s history at Eurovision and picking key moments we can interpret via voguing.”
The Euro Ball, which will be held on 12th May 2023 at Liverpool’s Invisible Wind Factory, isn’t Darren’s only contribution to the city’s Eurovision party. His dance company House of Suarez is also taking part in The National Lottery’s Big Eurovision Welcome, a spectacular show featuring aerial and dance performances from some of the UK’s finest National Lottery funded dance groups.
The National Lottery’s Big Eurovision Welcome will be held on Sunday 7th May 2023 at St George’s Hall Plateau.
Darren’s involvement with voguing started early. At 15 he ran away from home and discovered a new family in Liverpool’s underground gay clubs. He said, “I wasn’t away for long, but I went to the clubs and fell in love with them. They were subterranean, secret places because homophobia was still rife and the older generation of clubbers I met there supported me – they were nurturing.”
His nocturnal adventures in Liverpool’s gay clubs brought him into contact with voguing. The style – created by Harlem’s black and Latino gay communities who were inspired by the catwalk models as well as classical ballet – reached the UK’s gay clubs in the late 1980s. In 1990, it went mainstream thanks to ‘Vogue’, Madonna’s hit song and video.
Darren was enthralled by voguing from the start. He said, “It’s an empowering style that allows people to express themselves. I know it allowed me to do that at 15.”
Voguing’s time in the mainstream was short-lived. But Darren’s involvement in the scene gave him the confidence to pursue a career as a dancer. After studying classical dance at Northern Contemporary in Leeds, he decided to combine his formal training and his love of voguing. The result was House of Suarez, a tight-knit ‘family’ of vogue artists presided over by Darren, the ‘house mother’. House of Suarez made its mark in 2008 by co-producing 'Liverpool is Burning', The Grand Vogue Ball at the city’s Adelphi Hotel.
Darren said, “I wanted to celebrate vogue ball culture and also develop it to embrace all walks of life, making it inclusive with no prejudices.”
Since then, House of Suarez has staged 14 balls in Liverpool as well as events in Manchester and Leeds. And funding made possible by National Lottery players has played an important role in its mission. Darren said, “It has helped us reach out and work with more communities such as the deaf and disabled communities and the Queer, Trans, or Intersex Person of Colour (QTIPOC) community.”
Darren is just as passionate about vogue as he was in his teenage years. He said, “It’s been a way of life since I was introduced to it. It’s inspired me creatively, it's given me confidence and shaped me as an artist who’s hitting 50 this year. It’s an incredibly empowering style.”
Thanks to National Lottery players for supporting music and cultural projects in every corner of the UK, including over 3,600 projects in Liverpool‡ alone – including House of Suarez.
25th April 2023
‡Based on figures from 1995-2022
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