In a converted factory building in downtown Wuhan, 22-year-old Xiong Feng, who goes by the name Daiki, struts and spins in a black sequined full-body suit and stiletto boots.
Daiki is Wuhan’s only teacher of vogue, a highly stylised form of dancing that was popularised by gay and transgender communities in New York in the 1980s.
His class numbers have jumped from just a few people to around 10 since the city’s COVID-19 lockdown ended, as students, many of whom are young gay men, say they are keen to live more authentic lives in the wake of a traumatic year.
“I think that after the epidemic, everyone enjoys themselves more. People won’t work as hard as before, so it’s obvious that more and more people come to dance,” said Daiki.
Wuhan hasn’t recorded a new case since May and has largely returned to normal, but young people in the city say the disruptive and mentally challenging time has permanently altered their outlook on life.
“I feel that vogue has given me a lot of spiritual support during this period,” said Crisp, a baby-faced 23-year-old student in bright pink eye shadow.
As Crisp dances, he shows off a series of rapid choreographed hand movements and in the finale of one routine, he slams his body backward into the ground in a practiced half split called a ‘death drop’ in drag circles.
China has a thriving LGBT culture, despite strong censorship in mainstream media and a strict legal framework that broadly rejects non-traditional families. That said, Daiki notes not all LGBT people in Wuhan approve of voguing as some argue that men should act more manly.
During lockdown, Daiki, his students and friends practiced at home in their bedrooms, staying in touch by sharing videos of new dance routines.
Now they hope more people will try it and have dreams of building Wuhan’s first vogue ballroom community.
“Because of the epidemic, everyone was locked up at home … but our situation is much better now,” said Daiki. “It’s a long-lost happiness.”
The post Wuhan’s vogue dancers embrace new freedom as COVID-19 anniversary nears appeared first on SABC News – Breaking news, special reports, world, business, sport coverage of all South African current events. Africa's news leader..