It was one of the first great gay outrages-slash-inside-jokes of 2018: “I’m so into voguing right now.” So announced the former Disney Channel actress Vanessa Hudgens on a January episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars after watching one of the contestants karate-chop the air and then execute a backwards fall off a platform. So into voguing right now? It was like Hudgens had been invited to the conclave of the cardinals, sped-read the New Testament on the plane, and showed up declaring that the Lord is totally her shepherd. It was like she’d wandered into vogue’s history with appropriation, seen in the early ’90s when Madonna’s “Vogue” and Jennie Livingston’s documentary Paris Is Burning publicized the practice while paying only some of the practitioners, and seen today when Drag Race viewers scream “10s across the board” without knowing whom they’re quoting.
Nevertheless, it’s likely others will join Hudgens in getting so into vogue this year. And why wouldn’t they? The purring energy of New York City’s ballroom scene—where “houses” of gay and trans folks, mostly of color, compete via creative fashions and fluid-then-frozen dance moves—powers a few new entertainments. Ryan Murphy’s much-hyped FX show Pose, a wide-scoped drama about voguers in 1987, comes on the heels of My House, a Viceland documentary series about the contemporary ballroom world, and Kiki, a 2017 feature-length documentary about the same. Meanwhile, the vibes of ’80s/’90s house and R&B have thoroughly reinfiltrated pop, whether as heard in the elegant clamor of Ariana Grande’s “No Tears Left to Cry” or seen in the dinner-table catwalking of the video for MNEK’s “Tongue.”