THE EQUALITY BALL: Announces Iconic Talent, Expansive Resources, Show Programming that Empowers & Celebrates the Black Queer Community

by Aryn Fields

The Las Vegas Equality Ball will honor and elevate the vibrance and joy of Ballroom culture—a monument of the Black and Brown queer community

Human Rights Campaign Foundation presents The Equality Ball, in association with Beeline Productions and the Shady Gang, in partnership with Palms Casino Resort, and with support from BeyGOOD Foundation—are proud to bring authentic ballroom culture to Las Vegas. The  Equality  Ball will be on August 27, 2023, with preliminary performances from 8pm-12am and the ballroom program beginning at 12am, at Palms Casino Resort’s KAOS nightclub, and will feature not only an extensive list of legendary talent but will also include access to important community resources and services meant to directly benefit and uplift Black and Brown LGBTQ+ communities.

Ballroom culture is a progressive and innovative community that was founded by queer people of color—The Equality Ball is a friendly competition that creates a safe space for individuals to showcase their ability to artistically express themselves. Additionally, The  Equality  Ball will be providing access to numerous resources and services to community members in attendance including HIV testing, voter registration, and information about local LGBTQ+ programs and initiatives. These critical services align with the HRC Foundation’s commitment to social justice and health equity and programs that are committed to using a racial equity lens to directly serve  and improve the lives of Black and Brown queer communities.

“Ballroom culture is synonymous with the Black queer community—it creates a safe space for LGBTQ+ people at a time when being your authentic self was dangerous. But, let’s not get confused, it’s still dangerous for us—Black and Brown trans women are facing an epidemic of fatal violence, and just within the past week, O’Shea Sibley, a Black queer man, was brutally murdered for vogueing. The  Equality  Ball serves as another space for those who feel overlooked to take center stage and let the world know that—as Beyoncé sings—you won’t break our souls,”  said Human Rights Campaign President, Kelley Robinson. “There is hate out there, but nothing can break our souls. We see the community’s resilience in our own programs—in the leadership of advocates who work in our Trans Justice Initiative, in the unlimited potential that shines through students in our HBCU program, and in the work our HIV & Health Equity program does with Black and Latiné leaders to address the HIV epidemic and advancing health equity, and our work to create inclusive workplaces and schools free of bullying and bias. Despite the challenges facing our community, we continue to celebrate this renaissance of freedom and self-love and honor the Black and Brown, queer and transgender pioneers who paved the way for us to live our best lives.” 

The Equality Ball will be teeming with professional, acclaimed entertainers, performers, dancers and drag queens that have deep roots in the ballroom community. One of The Ball’s guest performances will be by Kevin Aviance, a member of the House of Aviance, and his song "Cunty" is featured in Beyoncé's Renaissance album. The Ball will be hosted by Precious Basquiat, a commentator in Ball for Culture that was featured in Viceland's docu-series "My House.” Additionally, the DJ is Mike Q and the Commentator is Kevin JZ Prodigy, both of whom were featured in Beyonce’s Renaissance album. The Ball will be highlighting the legendary House of Basquiat and the newly founded KiKi house of FUBU.

The Ball’s competition programming will have five judges:

  • Jack Gorgeous Gucci (Mizrahi) is an icon in ball culture and the father of the house of Gorgeous Gucci. He is a pioneer of ballroom culture and works as a writer and producer for shows involving Ballroom.
  • Dashaun Wesley is the iconic father of the House of Basquiat and was the host of Legendary on HBO MAX! He has also been featured in POSE, Vogue Evolution on “America’s Best Dance Crew” and Viceland's "My House."
  • Twiggy Pucci Garçon is the Overall “Overseer” of the Legendary International House of Comme des Garçon, consultant and runway choreographer for Ryan Murphy’s Emmy-nominated hit, POSE.
  • Ricky Holman aka Legendary Ricky 007 made history by being the first Pretty Boy Realness of the west coast in 2005 and is a member of the House of Prodigy.
  • Jennifer Barnes-Balenciaga has dedicated her life to ensure advancement of gender equity and inclusion and is a member of the House of Balenciaga, an institution of the ballroom scene.

Human Rights Campaign President, Kelley Robinson, will be attending The Equality Ball, which is being spearheaded by Executive Producers Lena Giroux Zakalik, Carlos Irizarry, and Stephanie “Packrat” Whitfield — all prominent professional dancers and choreographers for high-profile artists in the entertainment industry. Beeline Productions, will be Directing and Choreographing the show portion of the night. The Shady Gang will be Directing The Ball portion of the night and have over 20+ years of experience in the ballroom community organizing Balls in Ballroom culture. Along with the core visionary team, there are wonderful talents that are helping to co produce and bring this project to life.

BeyGOOD Foundation, the public charity founded by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, is honored to make a contribution in support of these needed services for the community. Palms Casino Resort is supporting The Equality Ball through generous underwriting, which will allow the event’s proceeds to bolster the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s crucial educational programming.

The production team for The Ball are long-time professional performers in their field, including Aerial Director, Brandon Pereyda who has been a performer and acrobat on the Las Vegas Strip, including Cirque du Soleil stages, for over 20 years. He was Chippendale’s first Aerialist and is the Guinness Book of World Records Holder for Aerial Acrobatics. By way of Paris, the show’s Artistic Direction is led by Alexis Ochin and Arnaud Boursain, two brilliant minds taking Vegas by storm. A&A collaborated in 2022 as co-writers, co-directors, and choreographers for "Ignite, Return to the Elements", a desert festival show held in the enigmatic Mojave desert that showcased over 40 international artists. In 2024, they are set to create a world premier for the Nevada Ballet Theater at the Smith Center.

Choreographer Asiel Hardison has toured with Shania Twain and then received a promotion with her camp to choreograph her Vegas residency. He has toured with Lady Gaga as her dance captain, Choreographer’s Assistant, and principal dancer, and has years of experience in the entertainment industry as a dancer in films like Coming to America and In The Heights. Supervising Choreographer Tovaris Wilson, who has created music videos for Britney Spears, FKA Twigs, and the award winning music video “Buttons” by the Pussycat Dolls. He has choreographed world tours for artists including FKA Twigs, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey. His work can be seen on television shows including The Masked Singer, American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and So You Think You Can Dance. Together, this dynamic trio and stellar production team have been hard at work for years to bring Las Vegas natives and tourists alike a highly produced ball experience adding in elements that will leave you wanting more.

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