Ballroom Prancing

South Florida's burgeoning gay ballroom scene has attracted an army of cross-dressers and transsexuals, who compete for bragging rights as fashion divas

The backstabbing and the politics of the dance floor were part of the scene that drove top South Beach performer Power Infiniti (whose real name is Dale Wilson) away from the ballroom and into his own performance career. In the mid-Nineties he founded Miami's House of Righteous Shade. He and his family began garnering trophies, sparking a challenge to the Lords and Infinitis. Trouble was, he began to take the balls too seriously, he says. "I was so competitive that if I didn't win, I would always start some shit," he remembers. "If one of my kids didn't win, I wouldn't talk to the judges. It used to cause me a lot of stress."

He decided to develop as a transgender performer, not just as a ballroom participant (most recently as a member of the Infinitis). He does not consider himself a drag performer; he doesn't aim to impersonate women like most drag queens. Instead he thinks of himself as a performance artist when he is featured at Salvation on Saturday nights. Along with a host of other performers, he is one of the more recognizable personalities in the arena of South Beach nightclubs, often performing in shimmering catsuits with futuristic headdresses glued to his shaved head. But he does attribute much of his success to his ballroom roots. "Ballroom is still so underground, a lot of the circuit boys don't even know about it," he says. "But I've learned to take it onstage. I bring ballroom to the big parties. It gives me an edge."

Be anything that you want to be while walking the balls, where attitude and realness 
win trophies
Steve Satterwhite
Be anything that you want to be while walking the balls, where attitude and realness win trophies

His turn judging the children at the Jingle Ball was a homecoming of sorts. He walked the introductory Walk of the Legends at the beginning of the event and waved to a crowd of fresh faces he didn't know but who knew of him. (Most are not old enough to get into the 21-and-over clubs where he performs.) Although spotting Power at a ball these days is a rarity, he says the scene was integral to his development as a gay man and a performer. "I will always live ballroom. When I first came out, it allowed me to have a family atmosphere and exercise my talent," he says. "There's a need for it. As long as you have social outcasting of gays by the so-called normal community, it's gonna affect young adults. Therefore they will feel a need to bond."

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