Original Article: bit.ly/11n9gDG
In a post-Paris Is Burning world, New York’s ballroom scene needs no introduction but over the past decade a subculture within the subculture has arisen. The kiki scene originated from social gatherings—"kikis"—at health outreach organizations, such as the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Hetrick-Martin Institute, where members of the ballroom community could get together to socialize and practice for the mainstream balls, as well as get connected to HIV prevention services, testing and counseling. Through these kiki functions, they started to develop their own separate system of houses and balls, which mirror the structure of those in the mainstream ballroom scene. Today the kiki scene provides a place for younger members of the ballroom scene to gain exposure, competition and leadership experience, all against a continued backdrop of safe-sex messaging.
"In the past few years the kiki scene has really grown, particularly because of its resources which are usually non-profit organizations," says Qween Beats Symba McQueen, the MC for most—if not all—NYC kiki balls. "The kiki scene transformed to cater to YMSM [young men who have sex with men] who are black or Latino between the ages of 13-24. The mainstream is usually filled with older members and they do not have the resources that young people have. A young person can go and connect with a CBO [community based organization] to ‘throw a ball’ and it can happen because they either have the space or funds for a space. The mainstream will need to pay out of pocket and venues are costly, also there is a higher expectation on how venues look for mainstream [events]. That doesn’t mean that the kiki scene works less or doesn’t want the ball to be just as ‘fab.’"
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