For weeks, hundreds of individuals have crowded the streets of Colombia, protesting inequality, rising poverty and police violence. President Iván Duque has deployed the nation’s army and police forces, and greater than 40 individuals have died.
On April 28, throughout an indication in Bogotá, three younger dancers confronted their concern of violence there by way of the last word expression of life: dance.
Piisciis, or Akhil Canizales, 25; Nova, or Felipe Velandia, 25 — each of whom determine as nonbinary — and Axid, or Andrés Ramos, 20, who’s trans, have been acknowledged by different protesters within the crowd due to a viral video of them dancing that they posted to social media two weeks before.
“We determined to exit to protest for our human rights but additionally for there to be some visibility for the L.G.B.T.Q. and nonbinary neighborhood,” Piisciis stated.
As they inched nearer to the Capitolio Nacional or the nationwide capitol in Plaza Bolívar, the principle sq. in Bogotá, a girl advised to Piisciis that the three of them stroll as much as the steps of the plaza and dance as they’d of their viral video. There was one drawback: the riot law enforcement officials swarmed on the high of the steps.
“We have been very scared as a result of everybody in Colombia is afraid of ESMAD,” Piisciis stated in an interview, referring to the Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbio, or Cellular Anti-Disturbances Squadron. “They’re violent and aggressive with us.”
Nonetheless, they proceeded.
Sporting yellow warning tape that learn “peligro,” that means hazard, loosely wrapped round their torsos as tube tops, and black pants, heels, a black ski masks for Nova and an extended blond wig on Axid, they climbed as much as the touchdown.
“We went up there so afraid,” Piisciis stated. “The reality is that in that second we have been frightened as a result of we didn’t know when somebody would throw a rock or an explosive at us or if the police would beat us.”
When Nova, Piisciis and Axid reached the highest touchdown of the Capitolio, music began to play. It was “Por Colombia Hasta el Fin,” a guaracha music that Piisciis made for the protest. By the point the riot police seen, they have been already vogueing.
On the first break of the music, as seen in a video that additionally circulated extensively, Piisciis, Nova and Axid started to wave their arms and hips concurrently; left, proper, left, left. It was the basic vogue catwalk. They then shook their heads to the beat, flipping their hair forcefully.
As officers carrying riot gear started to encompass the trio, they cunningly slipped by and walked nearer to the group whereas making sensual hand actions. The gang erupted in cheers.
As extra officers encircled the group, Nova crouched and commenced to shuffle to the beat, inching nearer to the officers. Their arms and arms elegantly stretched and folded in rhythm, with fingers fanned out in entrance of their face like baroque gildings. It was the ballroom duckwalk.
Axid was handed a big Colombian flag by a stranger and commenced to wave it, as Piisciis additionally duckwalked nearer to the protesters. Piisciis then acquired on their ft and twirled their physique vigorously, their hair furiously following. Immediately, Piisciis stopped mid-twirl, bent one knee whereas maintaining the opposite straight, and fell straight to the ground, on their again. The enduring dip.
The duckwalk, twirl, hand actions and dip all got here from trendy ball tradition, a world away.
Drag ballroom first sprouted in Harlem within the Nineteen Seventies. It was a sanctuary for L.G.B.T.Q. Black and Latino individuals who had been ostracized from mainstream white society. Ballroom was a grand world they imagined and dropped at life.
Competitions at drag ball occasions fostered neighborhood between totally different marginalized teams. Whereas many weren’t welcomed in nightclubs or bars on the time, they might flip up at a ball as they have been, after which some, and switch it out.
On the protest in Bogotá, dancing on this custom allowed Piisciis, Nova and Axid to demand worldwide visibility in a rustic hostile to their identities, they stated.
“In that second we have been all linked within the message of the battle, the resistance, empathy, power and love,” Piisciis stated.
Nova stated: “We resisted with artwork and vogue. We have been scared, however the individuals and the love from the general public was our gasoline to go up there and confront the police.”
Piisciiss realized tips on how to dance on this method by watching movies on YouTube. They began in 2014 and realized the fashionable New York fashion, they stated. They watched movies of Leiomy Maldonado, a choose on the HBO Max ballroom competitors tv present, “Legendary,” and of many different trendy dancers like Yanou Ninja and Archie Ninja Burnett. In the beginning of the yr, Piisciis held a dance class the place they met Nova and Axid. Piisciis then taught Nova.
Trendy ballroom tradition in Colombia is rising, Nova stated. “It is extremely new, solely 5 years outdated, however throughout that point it’s grown and expanded into cities like Medellín, Cúcuta, Pereira and different cities.”
Nonetheless, they’re usually denied house to carry out, Piisciiss stated. The group is hoping to interrupt down boundaries and unfold vogue by way of their nation.
“We would like everybody to speak and ask about vogue,” Piisciis stated. “They assume it solely exists in the US, that’s the reason we’re right here: to point out that it isn’t solely on tv or fiction.”
“It exists right here in Bogotá.”