By Kelly Page
This Saturday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. is the time to let your body move to the music and vogue. In Gardner Lounge, ballroom producer MikeQ and rapper Chynna Rogers will perform a show that can be deemed unique even by Grinnell Concerts standards.
If you’ve ever seen the 1990 documentary “Paris is Burning,” you know a bit about the ballroom culture that MikeQ hails from. If you aren’t familiar with ballroom, picture this: an LGBTQ beauty pageant that features a dance style called voguing, where dancers alternate quickly between poses and acrobatic movements, battling on the dance floor for awards.
Artists like Madonna and FKA Twigs have been inspired by voguing and incorporated the dance style from 1970s Harlem into their performances. Ballroom music is highly danceable, comparable to house music with its steady beats and energy. As MikeQ said in an interview with Noisey, “ballroom was danceable like Jersey club or house, but it was just gay!”
After establishing himself by playing at ballroom events like Vogue Knights in New York, MikeQ formed Qween Beat, a record label featuring other ballroom artists. He has also DJed for the Boiler Room, collaborated with Missy Elliot and travelled around the world, bringing ballroom to places like London, Paris and Tokyo. At the show on Saturday one can expect loud beats, energy, samples from important people in LGBTQ culture and lots of dancing.
Also playing on Saturday is musician and rapper Chynna Rogers. Rogers has been modeling since she was fourteen, but a few years later she began to pursue a career in music. Chynna began hanging out with the A$AP Mob as a teenager after tweeting at ASAP Yams, who took her on as a sort of mentee and encouraged her to rap.
She released the song “Selfie” four years ago, which got her attention on the Internet with its relentless flow and verses full of self-confidence. Her sound has evolved a lot since “Selfie” and the “Mean Girls”-inspired “Glen Coco,” which got her attention on the Internet a few years ago.
Her mixtape “Ninety,” which she released last year, has an atmospheric, more reflective sound. It explores Chynna’s struggles with addiction and her journey to sobriety, the experience of falling in love and even being petty. More recently, her track “seasonal depression,” which she released three months ago, is a meditation on mental illness that unfolds into richly layered percussion and bass. Her song “Practice,” which dropped on Soundcloud two weeks ago, shows a side of Chynna that won’t let anyone mess with her, calmly commanding respect over gritty instrumentation. With plans to release a new mixtape in the near future, Chynna Rogers is definitely an artist on the rise.
A pre-party for the concert hosted by Queer People of Color (QPOC) will take place on Cleve Beach (outside the entrance to Cleveland Hall) from 7:30 p.m. until the beginning of the show at 9. Make sure to show up for a night of energy, LGBT pride and some serious dancing.