UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


MAPS EDI Lunch Hour Conversations: The history of Ballroom and Houses in the US

22 June 2023, 3:00 pm–4:00 pm

EDI News

The next MAPS Lunch Hour Conversation will take place on 22nd June 2023. We welcome Sydney Baloue a writer, artist and ballroom historian to discuss the history of Ballroom and the Houses in the US.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students






Ethne James-Souch (on behalf of MAPS Vice-Dean EDI Nick Achilleos)

The aim of this MAPS Lunch Hour Conversation is to raise awareness about the history of the supportive spaces which evolved historically as part of the Ballroom scene in the US. The families comprising the Houses provided important support and mentoring for people belonging to the most marginalised social groups, particularly those from the queer / trans people of colour communities. These lessons conveyed from the House culture of support could also help us make our Universities safer and more respectful spaces for learning and collaboration. 

We are excited to welcome Syd Baloue, a Ballroom historian, writer and advocate for racial, social, gender justice and LGBTQ+ rights. Syd will share their knowledge and talk about their activism, education and outreach. They will discuss:

  • What is Ballroom?
  • The history of the system of Houses arose.
  • How they provided important support for very marginalised LGBTQ+ people.
  • The culture of the Ballroom such as the walking categories, the phenomenon of voguing, the competition between Houses and the goverance of the events. 

The event will follow in a Q&A format, where the audience can also submit questions and discuss. 

All staff and students in UCL are welcome to attend.

The event is via Zoom. Please ensure you register using the link above.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.

MAPS EDI Lunch Hour Conversations 2023

Please see below to download the MAPS EDI Lunch Hour Conversation Schedule for 2023, that contains registeration links to the other events:

About the Speaker

Sydney Baloue

Photo of Syd Baloue
In 2011 with a B.A. in Political Science, Sydney pursued public policy research as a German Academic Exchange (DAAD) Scholar and Transatlantic Fellow in Berlin, Germany from 2011 - 2014 before completing a dual-degree masters in Urban Policy at the Paris Institute for Political Studies and the London School of Economics from 2015-2016. Sydney’s background in social, racial and eco-justice policy-based work laid a foundational bedrock for his creative interests. A voracious traveler who is fluent in French and German, writing is the through-line of all his work.

As a Black and South Asian transgender man with roots in Trinidad and Tobago and Chicago, IL, Sydney is grateful for his global experiences as they have allowed him to connect stories across continents and have many of his own assumptions about the world blown apart. After trying to bridge his work in an academic setting and as a cultural producer, Sydney left his PhD in Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 2018 as he realized that storytelling through film and television was the best medium to share stories and connect people across continents, cultures and time. As someone rooted in diaspora and interested in traversing its intersecting lines, Sydney is excited to find and foster compelling narratives, which give space for the beauty and complexity of different life perspectives.

Sydney is a proud member of the House of Xtravaganza. He made history in 2019 as the first transgender man to win a voguing category (Old Way Performance) at The Latex Ball. Sydney was a writer and Co-EP on HBOMax’s competition reality series, Legendary (S1 and S2). His writing has been featured in The New York Times, Vice, and them. Sydney’s accolades include being listed on Condé Nast’s Now List 2020 on them. He also was a 2020 Artist in Residency at The Laundromat Project and a 2020 Sokoloff Arts Fellow. He made history as the first Black trans man in the WGA.

He is currently working on a book on the history and evolution of New York City's Ballroom Scene.

Sydney lives between New York and Los Angeles.

More about Sydney Baloue