chapter  6
The FAFSWAG ball
Event spaces, counter-marginal narratives and walking queer bodies into the centre
WithJared Mackley-Crump, Kirsten Zemke
Pages 17

This chapter considers FAFSWAG, a queer Pacific arts collective in Auckland, New Zealand, that activate event spaces in order to counter marginalisation and recentre narratives of peripheralisation. Informed by the ball culture that originated in New York, they have been staging vogue balls since 2013. Here, participants compete in ‘walks’ modelled around the concept of glamourous catwalk fashion shows, hence ‘voguing', and perform exaggerated performances of gender. Additionally, they centre their queerness and Pacific bodies, and locate themselves firmly as rooted in their place of South Auckland. In doing so, they create narratives of empowerment and safety, and open up the possibilities for personal transformation in a world which otherwise continues to marginalise them along multiple axes: Eurocentric queerness, conservative Pacific notions of gender and a centre-periphery narrative that privileges central Auckland as the gravitational centre of both the art and the queer worlds. This makes the FAFSWAG ball revolutionary in its uncompromising and unapologetic challenge of status quos, acts that have emancipatory potential for its participants.