“The name of our House is a paraphrase of the world 'cunt', which in English has a negative connotation, but on the ballroom has the exact opposite”, says Chraja, the Father of the Grecian House of Kareola.
Trippin speaks to Athens-based House of Kareola about the politics of Voguing, the Athenian scene and of course what they are going to wear at the ball.
The members of the House have just finished their rehearsal ahead of the third Voguing ball taking place in Athens. In a back yard, in early October where 30 degrees is still the norm in Athens the ‘Children’ amongst their ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’ discuss whether or if ‘Athens is burning’ regardless of the weather conditions.
Tila, the Mother of the House is by profession a dance teacher who also teaches Vogue performance: “It started organically three years ago. I taught Chraja and Candee how to Vogue and then it grew bigger and bigger”. “We can say that we became a House officially when we went to the ball in Bergamo in Italy a couple of years ago”, Chraja who is a full-time entertainer says.
She continues, “What I love about the Athenian scene is that we root for each other, there are no complexes and everyone is quite chill but on the other hand I want more trans womxn to join the scene. The reason that I love the ballroom is because it includes everyone. Trans womxn is a marginalised group in Athens, in same cases even the queer spaces aren’t safe for them. It’s an oxymoron knowing the fact that they were the reason that Voguing was born”.
“I feel that I have to be alert” Mother of the House, Tila says, “I want Voguing in Athens to express where we are geographically and express Athens of 2019. We are at a point where Voguing is becoming more and more mainstream, my goal is to educate and grow the community by protecting its authenticity. We are working with a NGO, which supports LGTBTI+ refugees in Athens, where I was organising dance lessons. I observed that some people were enthusiastic about it but some were still sceptical about what Voguing represents”.
Discussing the positive things that Voguing is bringing on the table two of the Children of the House of Kareola comment: “I haven’t travelled abroad, I have never left Greece. Through Voguing and the balls I had the chance to meet people from US, Sweden and Paris” says Glastra, one of the children of the House who is part-time Voguer and part(y) time animal, as the House of Kareola is in constant communication with the Voguing scenes not only across the main capitals of Voguing but also underground scenes such as those of Bulgaria’s and Japan’s.
Candee, a teacher during daytime and a Voguer during night-time explains the reason that she loves the ball, “I have issues with accepting my body, seeing the category ‘Body’ which is all about body-positivity helped me in dealing with those issues. I am still working on it”.
In three days-time the third ball is to take place, the theme is “Exarcheia 2047”. Exarcheia is a neighbourhood in central Athens, once the house of intellectuals with strong political history, an avid anarchist community that dichotomises the public opinion. From riots but also riot-tourism to idealistic political views this is the place where you’ll see the most anarchists you would have seen but also the most policemen but also Voguing Balls. Hence the theme of this ball which takes place in Exarcheia is “Exarcheia 2047”.
Father of the House, Chraja explains, “We are in 2047, only 27 years from now, where the world as we know it has seized to exist because it has been destroyed by the Patriarchy and Capitalism where only the few can afford oxygen and clean water. We used the year 2047 on purpose to show that although this narrative might sound surreal things are changing and they are changing now. They are changing cause we had three homophobic incidents in Exarcheia, since the conservative party, New Democracy came into power and Exarcheia is believed to be the cradle of all bad things happening in Athens, with the police throwing teargas regularly at refugees, squatters and small communities. The theme is futuristic, CyberPunk/CyberCunt as we call it but we took it an extra mile”.
The fact that politics are always a twist that Greeks like to add in their art whether is photography, fashion or Voguing is being discussed, “Yes, because we don’t have enough” Chraja adds, “From every aspect we have less than the rest of Europe. This morning someone threw a rock at me, I have zero euros in my pocket and this is not just the case for me, this is the norm, we are cursed and poor. On the other hand we are girls with allegro, and we have the Mediterranean temperament that money can’t buy”.
“After all, all poor countries are using their balconies to sing”, Mother Tila adds.
The next topic is ‘What are you going to wear at the ball?’
“I’ll be dressed in latex, I have two changes, I wanted to have more but I guess we won’t have enough ‘air time’” the Father Chraja says. Candee continues “The category that I’ll perform will be ‘Hands’ where I have to say a story using just my hands. My story would be that I won’t have enough oxygen so I’ll wear a mask oxygen”.
Tila will be a judge at the ball alongside with Pose’s star Jamal Milan “I can’t reveal what I’ll be wearing but I can reveal that it’ll be quite revealing” she says in true Voguing style.
On the ball Tila wears a transparent trench coat celebrating the female naked body. She later says that this is a salute to the character Zhora from the movie Blade Runner who is punished almost like every womxn in a patriarchal society for the combo of being in charge of her sexuality, her naked body and her independence.