House of Kenzo are the underground dance collective revolutionising Texan nightlife. For BBC World Service’s Cultural Frontline series, I joined Breezy, Roxy, Flo, Gemel and Toni over a weekend, as they perform at the opening of a queer film festival in Austin and in their hometown of San Antonio.
Each performance is a conceptual piece of artwork with built in messages of radical self-expression, body positivity, ecology and community. Constructing a DIY stage on the dancefloor, House of Kenzo blend jaw-dropping dance moves – voguing, krumping, break dancing in ten inch heels – with avant garde club music, shouting explicit mantras at the audience – inviting them to join in a communal, often cathartic, dance battle.
For local artist Ben Aqua, they represent the future of queer culture. Their volatile energy, flamboyant fashion, and total freedom of expression are inspiring a movement in Texas – a traditionally conservative state. Their events are often a springboard for other LGBT artists of colour in the underground nightlife scene.
Local journalist and DJ, Dan Gentile, believes House of Kenzo have a real future not in just music but in performance art, the type of higher end culture that would traditionally be difficult for an underground art collective to break into.
Producer: Victoria Ferran for Just Radio Ltd.
Exec: Susan Marling
Broadcast Date: 15th September 2018