It's a Beautiful Day for Voguing: 1980s N.Y. Subculture Comes Back to Life in Tel Aviv

An Israeli DJ and a New York dancer bring the 'voguing' scene, chronicled by the 1990 documentary 'Paris is Burning,' to a Tel Aviv nightclub.

Designer suits and shiny wigs will be dusted off and taken out of closets Thursday night, when a New York subculture that was prominent in the 1980s comes back to life in one of Tel Aviv's most popular clubs.

Israeli artist and DJ Lital Lev Cohen and the New York dancer Shamel Pitts, who moved to Israel four years ago when he joined the Batsheva Dance Company, have decided to bring the voguing scene to Israel some 30 years after its inception. Their new event, "L'ENCHANTE," is themed on the ballroom subculture developed by Latino and African-American homosexuals and drag queens, which was chronicled in the 1990 documentary "Paris is Burning."

"L'ENCHANTE" will be hosted at The Block club in South Tel Aviv on Thursday night. Participants are expected to adopt the fashion and etiquette of the haute couture catwalk, as they dance and promenade down the runway with pride. 

Pitts, who was educated in New York, started going to ballroom events when he was 15. Since moving to Tel Aviv, he says, he has been trying to bring the voguing scene here. Throughout the evening, Lev Cohen will play musical hits from the initial era of voguing, along with musical styles that developed along with the ballroom scene over the years. Lev Cohen says the playlist will include '80s old school, and even a bit of disco, Paradise Garage, house, and dubstep music. Lev Cohen explains that this developed with the new school ballroom scene of recent years.

Pitts and some of his friends from Batsheva will be voguing  at  L'ENCHANTE" debut, and Omri Angel, one of the club's owners, who shot and edited the promo video for the party, will serve as master of ceremonies. A collage of moving images, comprised of clips from New York ballroom events and documentary footage of 1980s Paris haute couture shows, will be projected along the club's walls. There will also be a fashion show with participation from the broader public, with guests invited to make their own grand entrance.

I want to make clear it's an open invitation to all – gay, straight and the inbetween," says Pitts. "Everyone's welcome to dance and show themselves freely on the dance floor. We want everyone to dress up and come and maximize their uniqueness in that evening. By the way – whoever shows up at the door with a unique style gets a free entrance.

"The main idea is to show up at the event as the epitome of your own fantasy of yourself," he adds. "The closest you can get to your own perception of yourself.

"L'ENCHANTE," The Block. 157 Salame St., near the New Central Bus Station from 11:00 P.M. to 1:00 A.M. Whoever is interested in participating in the fashion show on the night is requested to register in advance by sending an email to litalevcohen@gmail.com 

Omri Engel