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Press release

Space to Have a Ball: everyone’s invited to the National Trust’s ballrooms – recreated at Outernet London for Pride celebration

Picture of vogue dancer Diva in the saloon at Kingston Lacy
Dancer Diva in the saloon at Kingston Lacy | © Diva - Kingston Lacy © National Trust_Shah May

To celebrate the month of Pride, the National Trust and Outernet London have created a free immersive experience that brings to life parties of the past in beautiful historic places, in busy central London. Taking influence from the Queer history of National Trust places, Space to Have a Ball combines the history of ballroom culture with the creativity of contemporary dancers.

The films will be shown at Outernet, a new arts and culture district in London which is on track to be one of the UK’s most visited attractions. Digital artworks are displayed on 4-storey high, 360 degree, 16k resolution screens - the most advanced in the world.

Four performances have been filmed at three locations looked after by the National Trust: Kingston Lacy in Dorset, Osterley Park in Middlesex and the Bath Assembly Rooms in Bath. These historic spaces played host to dazzling events which would have showcased the latest in fashion, music and dance to Georgian society.

The history of these places has been shaped by the LGBTQ+ individuals, such as Kingston Lacy’s owner William John Bankes and patron of Osterley Park Oliver Messel, who loved and enjoyed them as places to test the boundaries of expression and identity at the time.

Directed by Adi Alfa and Eric Myers and showcasing contemporary dance talent from the LGBTQ+ community, the films feature voguing, a dance style that was birthed by Black and Latinx queer and trans individuals in the 1960s Harlem ballroom dance scene and later found fame in mainstream music with Madonna’s song and video "Vogue”. Voguing and ballroom offer a space for members of the LGBTQ+ community to express their identity, both historically and today.

Jerzy Kierkuc-Bielinski, curator at the National Trust and co-Chair of the charity’s LGBTQ+ network, says: “Space to Have a Ball is a thrilling response to the history of three Georgian era National Trust properties, the period when the first, recognisable, Queer communities formed in Britain. Osterley Park and Bath Assembly Rooms hosted scintillating social gatherings, where outrageous fashions, music and beautiful architecture transported the participants of the parties held there. Likewise, the extravagant, gilded and art-filled interiors of Kingston Lacy speak of the overwhelming need of owner William Bankes to create his own beautiful vision of personal identity. The film’s dancers and directors have brought back into these rooms the spirits of self-expression and spectacle that were so central to how they historically functioned. We’re excited to be able to share the history of three National Trust places in a very different way with visitors to Outernet this Pride Month.”

Philip O’Ferrall, CEO of Outernet, said “A commitment to community and inclusivity are values we share with the National Trust. Outernet is in the centre of Soho, a part of London that has a long history with the LGBTQ+ community and so to be able to celebrate Pride in this unique way is really a joy. The films tell a compelling and important story and at the same time are beautiful to watch so we hope our visitors love them as much as we do.”

Vogue dancer Karteer Miyake Mugler said: “Space to Have a Ball means a lot to me. If you were to go to a ball, with the voguing culture, you can see that this is somewhere where Black and where Queer people feel very safe. The fact that we can associate that with the National Trust and we have the space to have a ball - I feel that is incredible.”

A collaboration between National Trust, Outernet and Media Worx Films, Space to Have a Ball can be visited at Outernet, Tottenham Court Road, from 15 - 30 June 2023. Entry is free.