State To State: The OKI Saga
By: Pretty XLanvin
At this point, the Ballroom Scene has landed on basically every habitable continent in the world. This, is a fact. Still, it seems many patrons have no clue (or just don’t care) that a particular region exists in their own backyard. In reality, this region has blossomed into a hidden gem for Ballroom, birthing a slew of bonafide Stars, Statements & Legends that are staples on Ballroom’s international floor. I know you’re asking, which region has a band of legends (and now Icons) yet still flies under the radar? That can’t be possible, can it? Well the truth is ALWAYS stranger than fiction. This region definitely does exist and these regional underdogs formally go by Oh’Kentuckiana, but are better known as the OKI.
Back in the mid-2000s, out of sheer necessity (and a lack of ballroom clout) several leaders from Ohio, Kentucky, & Indiana decided to merge into one collective region, hoping to pool their talents together and finally make some noise on Ballroom’s national stage. Only, for most outsiders, the OKI region was merely an endless line of lackluster ballroom wannabe’s. A bunch of milk farmers who happened to watch BET. They would soon learn, that opinion couldn’t have been further from the truth. With only the space and opportunity for growth, these three Midwestern states kept to themselves at first, battling down in every basement/bowling alley from Indianapolis to Cleveland to Louisville. The more they competed, they better everyone got. And sure enough, a buzz began to grow about the unknowns from the NOT-Chicago sector of the Midwest (shoutout to YouTube). Lead by the epic performance battles of the voguing categories and the high participation of their balls, the OKI looked ready for harvest. The east coast and southern ballroom scenes began to attend and participate, albeit at a very glacial pace.
With ballroom starting to give away cash prizes as reward for winning categories, OKI decided to use that as bait for the heavyweights of the national scene to attend their balls. And it worked. $1000 category after $1000 category was announced, which made everyone pay attention. Yet, the surprise was on them. When they arrived in farm country, they were met with much resistance from the resident Ballroom Kids, who in a short period of time had now become worthy competition. However, that didn’t sit well with the big names of ballroom and they soon declined to return to the OKI citing “favoritism” as their main issue. Oh, the irony! The truth was, the OKI region was more than just corn, cows, & crop circles. It was more than pickup trucks and Trump supporters. There was (and IS) a large amount of talent across the entire region. They say pressure makes diamonds right?! Well the pressure was on and the OKI decided to turn the heat up a notch. They soon followed their peers back to their home cities just to challenge them on their own turf. They couldn’t hide any longer, as the battle was brought to them. The results of this decade long tug of war is now apart of Ballroom’s history. Legends were crowned and many names were made. Yet still, it makes one wonder why a proper return hasn’t been made to the OKI region by the rest of Ballroom?!
One would be inclined to think that the point had already been made by OKI’s scene, and at the very least, some respect and support would be given back to them for their efforts. Well, think again! Distance is now cited as the main excuse reason for most people not returning to OKI. Yet, Chicago is further from anywhere East or South, and they are still a Ballroom hotspot to this very day. If Ballroom was built on “making people know it,” then why does the rest of ballroom decline the chance to MAKE IT KNOWN?! It would be a travesty if OKI were to pull back from traveling East, South, or West. Everyone would be screaming “BALLROOM IS DEAD” at the top of their lungs. One or two regions can’t do it by themselves. This is a culture that MUST be fed. Only together can we keep Ballroom alive, and ONLY by supporting all, not the few. Winning isn’t everything, but the moments DO last forever (shoutout to YouTube). So stop making excuses and make some moves. EVERYBODY. That’s how we all crossover. That’s how we keep Ballroom alive. Now, Giddy-up.