BlackoutUK: English Breakfast London is tearing up London’s scene – what’s the secret of your success?
Sydney: Well, it has really been a labour of love that Jay Jay Revlon and I put out there. I think our night stands out as we’re two young, black queer people who put on the evening for our friends, i.e. mainly folks from the voguing or ballroom scene. We *actually* vogue, walk balls and know the beats to play. We want to make sure we are really honouring voguing and ballroom history and culture, so you know you’re getting the real thing. Also, the fact that we just love to have fun, bring joy and not be so serious also sets us apart a bit. Also, lots of Internet spamming for our night. LOTS of posting everywhere about it.
B: So how did you get started?
S: We originally started the night in the spring of last year as a way to give dancers and specifically voguers a place to go that isn’t too expensive as so many nightclubs in London are shutting down like Madame Jojo’s. I moved to London a year ago as I was doing a masters in urban planning at the LSE and I had just come from Paris, which has a very active voguing or “ballroom” scene. I was heavily involved in the Paris ballroom scene over the summer and got accepted to my house, the iconic and pioneering House of UltraOmni, a New York-based house, which has chapters in Europe. There wasn’t as much action in London and I wanted to really create a space where people could regularly go to vogue down like the famous “Vogue Knights” in New York, which is a weekly evening where people can vogue in a mini-ball-like setting. Linking up with Jay Jay, we decided to make it happen, we invited our friends to come thru, vogue down and SERVE, et voilà…
B: You clearly love DJing, but what else are you up to?
S: I just finished sending out PhD applications as I’m looking to start a PhD in African American Studies next fall somewhere in the US. In the meantime, I’ll be moving to New York to live there until I begin. On the in-between, I’ll be working on producing music and learning how to play the piano (it was one of my “intentions” for the year). Also, looking for work in New York. I’m looking forward to exploring more music scenes there as I love the house vibe out there. Hopefully, I can find a nice DJ gig while I’m out there.
S: I love to play ballroom beats, so almost anything from people like MikeQ, Byrell the Great and Vjuan Allure (major producers and DJ’s of great voguing beats). Besides going to my Chicago roots of playing classic house tracks, I like to mix it up with a bit of soca as I am Trini (whoop whoop!) and I often get inspired by London’s music vibe, so you will definitely catch some UK garage and a little bit of grime mixed in here and there.
B: Do you have a favourite moment from last year?
S: There were so many! Perhaps the night at Duckie where Jay Jay and I performed a “Joanne the Scammer” vogue-inspired sketch and I was in drag as Joanne. We bought weave at Pak’s, cut it up and I used spirit glue for a fake beard and we dyed a blond wig to make the bad root job. I had so much fun performing that night, but my costume was so great that none of my friends recognized me!
B: How can our readers get involved with London’s ballroom scene?
S: They should definitely check out our social media pages for English Breakfast London, i.e. Instagram and Facebook. Also, if you follow me or Jay Jay on IG or FB you can find more info. Also, joining the group “Vogue it Down in London Town” is a great guide for those looking for the next parties too. But definitely make sure you come to one of our nights! I always encourage people to come thru, say hello, and don’t be afraid to try something new.
B: What’s next for EBL?
S: My upcoming Birthday Ball April 1st! My birthday is March 30, but the weekend after seemed best to celebrate. The theme is “James Bond” and all the categories have something to do with the movies. We will have an international panel of voguing judges and lots of fun during the ball and in our afterparty. Definitely come thru if you can!