Our journalism needs your support! Become a member
The Bristol Cable
Image of a participant walking at the Bristol Ball, organised by Bristol Ballroom Community (credit: Darren Shepherd)

Bristol goes to the ball

Photography

Ballroom culture, which Bristol photographer Darren Shepherd describes as 'the personification of queer resilience and queer joy', has been enjoying a resurgence in our city.

Photos by: Darren Shepherd

The ballroom scene is a subculture that originated in the US, where queer Black and Latinx people walk a runway with prizes handed out for their performances by a panel of judges.

The movement began in the 1980s, largely in response to racism at established drag pageants.

In August, Bristol hosted its first ball at the Trinity Centre, organised to “celebrate queer and Black and Brown excellence” by Aysha Chamberlain from the Bristol Ballroom Community, which has since been running a series of practice sessions through the autumn.

Photographer Darren Shepherd discovered ballroom through the iconic film Paris is Burning.

“For me, ballroom is the personification of queer resilience and queer joy,” he says. “It’s also very photogenic. It’s been a longstanding interest of mine, ever since I became interested in photography.

“It was on the hottest night of the year,” he says of this summer’s Bristol Ball. “So I fell for everyone who was walking. The audience aren’t sat down, they’re stood up, they’re shouting. I was streaming with sweat taking the photos, but the atmosphere was electric.”

Independent. Investigative. Indispensable.

The Cable is Bristol’s independent, investigative newsroom. Owned and led by 2,600 members, we produce award-winning journalism that digs deep into what’s happening in Bristol. Investigative journalism strengthens democracy – it’s a necessity, not a luxury.

As a democratic members co-op, democracy is built into everything we do. We’re 100% owned by thousands of Bristol members.

If we can triple our membership, this funding from the people of Bristol would make the Cable completely sustainable.

Join the Cable today

Comments

Post a comment

Mark if this comment is from the author of the article

By posting a comment you agree to our Comment Policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related content

‘I can’t die, I’ve not made my solo album’: Holysseus Fly on overcoming cancer and looking forward

The Bristol singer-songwriter and Ishmael Ensemble member discusses overcoming breast cancer at just 25 and launching her career as a solo artist.

Grove: ‘Impending doom definitely plagues my mind, but I’ve sought out the tools to deal with that’

Following an explosive first festival season, Bristol-based producer and vocalist Grove sits down with the Cable to talk punk, power and vulnerability.

Bristol venues brace for another challenging winter in face of energy and cost of living crises

Independent businesses are being hammered by rising energy bills as cost of living rises force customers tighten their purse strings.

Meet the new queer collectives pushing the boundaries of Bristol’s nightlife

For a city of its size, Bristol is not overrun with dedicated queer nightlife spaces. But since coronavirus restrictions have eased, several new groups of creatives have set out to change things.

Local rapper Kilaze talks hip-hop, art and life

Rapper Kilaze is a stalwart of the city’s music scene both through his own releases and his support of homegrown talent. Two decades into his career, he’s still got ‘so much to talk about’.

Music learning is fading out from schools. We’ll lose more than the screech of recorders.

Music lessons were some of my fondest moments of school. But in a city renowned for live music and across the country, music learning is under threat.

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning