DANCE: Welcome to Waacktopia: ‘All Night Ball’ Celebrates the Best in Ballroom Culture
ARTISTICALLY SPEAKING: Q&A WITH PRINCESS LOCKEROOO (NYC)
As a skilled and dedicated performer, Princess Lockerooo amazes and inspires with every move perfected on the dance floor. In conversation, her passion and determination are evident as much as her love and respect for NYC’S Ballroom culture, disco grooves and the distinctive styles inspired by it all _ waacking, voguing and hustle.
She’s especially excited to present “The All Night Ball” at Lucky Cheng’s tonight (Oct. 27) _ attracting and inspiring a new generation of enthusiasts to the scene. Find out what all the buzz is about in the following Q&A with Samara Cohen here at Tania Fuentez Media.
TFM: What exactly is the upcoming “All Night Ball” all about and why now? Can you share a few highlights planned and what it means to you?
PL: “The All Night” Ball” is an exciting dance contest taking place at the famous Lucky Cheng’s, and hosted by the Icona Pop dancers of the All Night video that Icona Pop recently released. This video showcased the ballroom scene in its true and purest form. It featured the actual legendary dancers/icons of the ballroom scene and captured the glamor and beauty and historical meaning.
“The All Night Ball” will be like a scene out of the All Night video, but with a lot more dancers. It will be a celebration of dance, fashion and new music. The voguing and hustle competitions will be thrilling to watch and some of New York’s finest DJs like Vjuan Allure, Disciple and Chip Chop are going to be bringing the party, so be ready to dance!
I was inspired to create this event by the dancers and the experience I had participating in the video. The hustle has been making a re-emergence among the younger generation in New York. It’s wonderful to see people dancing together. The night will run more like a TV show competition as opposed to a Ball or Dance Battle. We have a legendary lineup of judges _ VOGUE: Grandfather Hector Xtravaganza, Javier Ninja, Derrick Xtravaganza, Pony Zion; HUSTLE: Jeff Selby _ who will not only judge the battle but also give feedback to the finalists. I feel this is very important. Dancers often walked away from the competition not understanding why they lost or what they could have done to get better. This event is about learning how to grow. There will be some amazing performances.
TFM: When did you start dancing professionally? Are you surprised by the path taken through the years? When traveling abroad, how is your creative passion received?
PL: I guess I could say my first big break was my first international tour. Traveling to Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, London, Italy, Finland, Japan, Brazil, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Russia, Siberia, Poland, Czech Republic and having so many wonderful and eager students overjoyed to meet me and learn waacking was incredible. For years, I was one of the few New Yorkers in my generation really trying to represent and push the dance. I was doing a dance that it seemed that no one had heard of or had been exposed to, so to have so many young people as passionate about it as me was reassuring and it felt like instant family.
TFM: What drew you into NYC’s ballroom scene and how has that changed since you first got involved? Discuss significance of voguing, hustle and waacking competitions.
PL: In 2005, I learned about Clubhouse on 125th Street where they used to have balls. I eventually learned about Esco’s and The Latex Ball. I walked in The Latex Ball once and won a few trophies from Esco’s over the years. I love the New Way style of voguing and Hands performance. I mainly learned from Javier and Benny Ninja. I really love New Way Vogue and Hands performance. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Ninjas on a few occasions, internationally and with Madonna. Every time I’m around voguing, I’m more inspired to do it.
For me, the significance of having these competitions is that it inspires dancers to step up their game, work on their craft and experience dancing for an audience. For me, battling was always about practicing my performance, it was always an opportunity to be on stage in front of people and perform. After winning House Dance International’s ‘Waacking’ category in 2010, I began teaching around the world. It’s a great way for dancers to become seen known and make a name for themselves. It helps to build up street cred as they say, but I’m hoping that this event will help to build up more than just street cred.
My intention for this event by bringing it to a space like Lucky Cheng’s is to let an audience that would not normally go to one of these functions see, learn about and appreciate our art. For me, these dance styles belong in a theater on Broadway. Lucky Cheng’s is not exactly an off-Broadway theater, but it’s a beautiful dinner theater venue in the heart of Midtown that celebrates and respects performance and gay culture.
TFM: How did Princess Lockerooo spring into being?
PL: I discovered waacking at Broadway Dance Center in 2004. Brian Green was the only person teaching it in New York City. If it weren’t for him none of this would have happened the way it did. Locking was my first love in dance but I always took classes in all styles. My life changed when I went to the House Dance Conference which was an underground dance party held by Brian Green himself. This party played everything from Hip Hop to funk to disco and House. All the best dancers of NY and Philadelphia would attend. I was completely in awe. I had never seen so many people freestyling and just improvising on the spot being able to hit all the sounds in the music. I met Tyrone Proctor when he came to Brian Green’s waacking class at BDC. I am one of Tyrone’s first students and till this day I never miss a class unless I’m out of New York for some reason. Tyrone has spread waacking around the world and is greatly responsible for its newfound popularity.
I became Princess Lockerooo (named by my first locking teacher SPEX; Broadway Dance Center) when I entered my first ‘Locking’ battle at the House Dance Conference, I think 2005. Princess Lockerooo has become my alter ego, my inner diva comparable to Jim Carrey’s character in The Mask. When I became Princess Lockerooo I became a fierce diva that has no insecurities and is afraid of nothing. I live to entertain people, and share waacking with the world …
TFM: Who are your muses?
PL: My teachers. Tyrone Proctor, Brian Green and all the dancers from the House Dance Conference, Soulgasm, Esco’s, Funkbox, etc. They are my heroes and they have inspired me so much. Jody Watley, who danced/waacked on Soul Train and also learned waacking from Tyrone himself. Artists like Grace Jones, Prince and Michael Jackson. I only tend to like performers who go ALL OUT.
TFM: Do you have a preferred dance style or one you’d like to master?
PL: Waacking is my specialty and signature. I also vogue and would really like to master New Way and learn more about Vogue Fem. I’ve always dabbled with other styles here and there (House, Waving, popping, jazz) and I try to let everything I learn influence my waacking. I’m very interested in Light Feet and Flexing. Those dance styles are undoubtedly the next wave of Hip Hop culture.
Before I began dancing I was an aspiring opera singer/musical theater actress, but I dropped everything to become a locker/waacker. My family and friends thought I was crazy. My high school friends laughed at me the first time I showed them waacking, given I wasn’t very good back then. I dove in head first, full throttle into dance taking about four classes a day and clubbing all night. I never worked a regular job again. I became ‘Samara The Subway Soprano’ and sang opera in the subway in order to support myself and pay for dance classes. I used to show up at Broadway Dance Center with $130 in singles and quarters to buy a 10-class card. I stopped singing on the train two years ago when I worked with Madonna and became a teacher at Broadway Dance Center. I had no intention of becoming professional … I just wanted to be able to do it. I wanted to be as cool as all the people at the House Dance Conference were.
TFM: Waacktopia? Break it down for the clueless. And, what’s the next big thing to conquer?
PL: Waacktopia Is the DISCO PARADISE for your soul. Waacktopia is the NYC WAACKING PARTY EXPERIENCE! For years in New York it really wasn’t much disco being played in underground clubs. Don’t get me wrong, I love House music and I am ever thankful for the wonderful DJs like Tony Touch, Brian Coxx, Disciple, who keep the House culture alive but disco is what inspired waacking. The music came first. After teaching at Broadway Dance Center, I decided that my students needed to get out into the club and not just dance in studio. They needed to experience dance as an interaction and exchange as opposed to staring in the mirror. After all, dancing in the club is what made me share the dance around today.
At Waaktopia you will hear the best disco. We play the very specific imported disco that was played in the LA gay clubs of the 70s, where waacking originated. I must thank Tyrone Proctor for sharing this music with us and teaching us about how it was played. At Waacktopia, we also play funk and a little bit House to make everybody happy. We have a 1 a.m. Soul Train line that is BUMPING! You’ll see waackers, lockers, poppers, voguers, groovers, music lovers. It’s also great place if you want to chill out to great music solo or with a date and listen to great music. Check out this video review. I now teach waacking classes in the club at 9:30 p.m. before the party starts with DJ UNDAKOVA. Come early for a waacking experience.
The next big thing to conquer is releasing and performing my music. After years of not pursuing music it all comes back around. I will be performing my new dance single, All Falls Down, at ‘Behind The Groove‘ on Oct. 29th at Le Poisson Rouge. Now that I understand music from a dancer’s perspective I want to create great music that will inspire great dance. The music/dance industry definitely needs some authentic s%&+!
Waacktopia and Princess Lockerooo present “The All Night Ball:” https://www.facebook.com/events/182825448571593/