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Culture Club

with Conor Behan

Talk shows in the US like The View have berated Madonna for daring to dance around on stage at 60. In her Vogue UK interview, Madonna noted the ongoing ageism she faces. Given the rousing tabloid cries of “put it away” that follow any move Madonna makes on stage, it’s hard to disagree with her. Other conversations around Madonna do deserve a fair hearing though. As the LGBT+ TV series, Pose, heads into its second season, they’re preparing to tackle Madonna’s 1990 hit, ‘Vogue’, how it shed a light on queer ball culture and how she may have stolen from it.

There’s no doubt that Madonna benefitted hugely from being white when taking references from a scene predominantly created by queer people of colour. But Madonna also included dancers from the ball world in the live performances and video for ‘Vogue’. José Gutierez and Luis Camacho who choreographed the video came directly from the ballroom world. Madonna then brought them on the Blonde Ambition Tour, the pair becoming the standout stars of the proceeding documentary Truth Or Dare. They even released a single in 1993 called ‘Queen’s English’, which featured Madonna on backing vocals. But that doesn’t erase the fact that Madonna can enjoy the commercial success of applying ball culture to a hit song while those involved in the scene face discrimination and violence in their lives outside of it.

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