From 2 December 2023, the Amsterdam Museum will present the exhibition Grand March: Celebrating Ten Years of Dutch Ballroom Culture. The exhibition is a collaboration with House of Vineyard, the first ballroom house in the Netherlands. In the rooms of Amsterdam Museum location Huis Willet-Holthuysen, House of Vineyard shows the power of ballroom culture with stimulating fashion interventions and art installations.
Interventions and installations
As trailblazers of the Dutch scene, House of Vineyard explores the power of ballroom, in which themes of resistance, community building and self-expression play a major role. For the exhibition Grand March: Celebrating Ten Years of Dutch Ballroom Culture, this ballroom house takes visitors through the historic spaces of Huis Willet-Holthuysen through a ballroom lens. It does so by complementing the spaces of the Amsterdam mansion with installations featuring fashion, jewellery, photography and visual art. Different interventions are made in the rooms of the house, aiming to challenge gender norms, for example with a 16th-century suit of armour combined with contemporary ballroom aesthetics. The members of House of Vineyard display old and new works from their own collection, but also draw on the Amsterdam Museum's fashion collection.
Ballroom is a subculture with expressive expressions. During balls, people compete against each other in different categories, such as voguing, realness and runway. This year, it has been ten years since the first ball was organised in the Netherlands. This anniversary will be celebrated with an exhibition and a matching public programme, including panel discussions, film screenings, tours and workshops. The exhibition will include House of Vineyard looking back at the past decade by showing highlights of their balls in the interactive installation Karosa (Papiamentu for parade cart): an encounter between a cabinet of curiosities and a Caribbean parade cart.
Way to claim space
Ballroom was formed for and by Black and Latin American trans women and queer people in 1970s Harlem, New York. They opposed mainstream, mostly racist beauty pageants by organising balls for, with and by lhbtiq+ people of colour. At a ball, participants compete in various categories for trophies, cash prizes, status and reverence. The balls are exuberant underground events, acting as resistance to the dominant cisnormative society. Since the emergence of these balls, ballroom has been a thriving artistic culture. Many people active in the ballroom scene are members of a 'house'. This represents a group of people who have chosen each other as 'family', with a safe home in which there is room for each individual.
'Ballroom is an environment where art meets activism.
It is a form of protest and resistance, and a radical celebration of our existence
and our right to occupy space.'
Amber Vineyard, founder House of Vineyard
About House of Vineyard
House of Vineyard was founded in 2014 by 'Mother' Amber Vineyard. The internationally recognised ballroom house consists of about 30 people and is still growing. Together with 'Father' Elly Vineyard, they have found in each other a chosen family. Since its inception, House of Vineyard has had a major impact on ballroom culture. The house builds community, provides educational opportunities and challenges conventions inside and outside the ballroom scene. In addition to its major contribution to organising and participating in balls, House of Vineyard facilitates affordable classes and shares its knowledge and values during takeovers at art schools and venues across the country. Since 2018, House of Vineyard has travelled to South Africa, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Suriname to support people in creating their own ballroom communities. The house has since expanded to South Africa. This is the first exhibition that House of Vineyard is co-curating as a collective.
'House of Vineyard's tireless commitment to shaping a scene that makes space for uninhibited self-expression is an inspiration to many. Their creativity and artistic expression make them an undeniable and beloved part of contemporary culture.'
About Huis Willet-Holthuysen
The exhibition can be seen at the imposing Huis Willet-Holthuysen, part of the Amsterdam Museum, on the Herengracht in Amsterdam. The double mansion has several historic interiors, including a nineteenth-century ballroom and a symmetrical French-style garden, and houses numerous impressive historical objects. Huis Willet-Holthuysen also programmes exhibitions highlighting the house and its past from different perspectives. Each presentation highlights a different aspect of the house.