07 Jan We Explore the LGBTQI+ African Ballroom Scene with MUVA Kirvan Le Cap
Founded by Mother Kirvan Le Cap (Kirvan Fortuin) House of le Cap hosts a number of balls to raise funds for the LGBTQIA community affected by HIV/AIDS.
The house mother lets us into the world of African Ballroom, and the importance of such spaces within the LGBTQ+ community.
“The ball culture has always existed in Africa, long before I was born so it is something that is embedded within us. Balls are a platform for expression and activism. It is a place where we celebrate each other and question certain things in society. My balls always make some sort of political statement, because balls are and should be a parody and satire on society. As Africans, we are at the phase where we are eager to define ourselves. Balls provide that platform to open dialogues and the avenues of what is African, who is African and who belongs,” they say.
When and where did House of Le Cap start out? What was the inspiration behind it?
House of le Cap started five years ago when I went to my first ball in the Netherlands and got a chop (hahaha, yes I did). In 2017, I decided it was time to bring the ball culture to exist in Africa. When I attended my first ball in Rotterdam, I was completely gobsmacked and enthralled by what was happening and I immediately saw Cape Town in it. It was then and there I decided this is it, needless to say, Africa was ready and hungry for something new in our queer spaces.
What’s the aim in creating these events?
The aim for me is to raise awareness on the health and wellbeing of the LGBTIQ+ community – making education on HIV/AIDS and trans health fun and accessible.
Have you been receiving support from the community?
We’ve had sponsorship from Belvedere Vodka SA, some support from RedBull SA and of course our house Zer021 Social Club. With that said I am very thankful to all our partners including Artscape Theatre Centre, V&A Waterfront, Fonds Podium Kunsten (NL), House of Vineyard, Bradley Carstens, and the incredible Gert-Johan Coetzee who dressed my kids and me for the ball. I also need to thank all my kids in the house who keep doing this with me.
Are there any challenges you have faced along the way as a House?
Yes, funding. Our balls and outreach initiatives are all currently run out of my own pocket en ek is maar net ‘n freelancer sonder ‘n trust fund. Our biggest issue currently is resources to release all our work, which includes balls, training, and outreach work. We are in dire need of transportation and most of the kids live outside of Cape Town and come from marginalised and disadvantaged communities.
Just to give some readers who aren’t familiar with the ballroom the scene, what typically happens at a ball?
So basically the balls are the Oscars for us, it is a competition, a very ruthless one where patrons walk (compete) in different categories. Categories usually are Runway, Face, Sex Siren, Shake That Ass, Designers Delight, Body, Vogue Fem, Pop dip n Spin and of course our baby African Realness Performance. There are three different rounds, the 10’s round, battle round and the battle for grand prize round. In the 10’s round patrons have to walk for their 10’s, and here you either get a 10 or chop and to advance to the next round you have to get 10’s across the board. There are no in-between numbers. Then the battling and shade begin.
Any future endeavors that you can share with us?
YAS, we’re having another major international ball for World Aids Day in 2020. But during the year we will also be having a number of balls, workshops, and offer weekly training and classes, and most importantly, outreach work in our community. My goal is to travel around the country next year to really build the African Ballroom Scene and make sure that everyone does it correctly.
Balls are a celebration of identity, dance, music, fashion and what God has blessed us with, or what our doctor blessed us with.
Written by Unam Ntsababa.