TV Review - Leave It On the Floor
|Andre Myers as Carter in|
"Leave It On the Floor"
Brad gets a crash course in the culture of this underground nightclub in Los Angeles. The culture is referred to as the Ballroom Scene or the Ball Culture. It's not ballroom dancing, but it is a dance-based world. It's also a modeling-based world, a world that's all about looks and attitude at least while on stage. Off-stage, it's all about self-made families. It started with white men dressing in drag, but, as it stands now, it's mainly black gay men, latino gay men or transgendered people of color. These black men, when they're not primping and posing on stage, are reinforcing the values of family, values like loyalty, acceptance and love.
This Ballroom Scene, comprised of gay blacks, was first introduced in a documentary called Paris is Burning (1990). Back then, it wasn't as well known a phenomenon. Madonna mainstreamed it in a lot of ways with her song "Vogue." As a result, the movie Honey 2 referred to such Ball culture dancers as "voguers." There was a group known as Vogue Evolution that also brought this culture to the mainstream on Season 4 of America's Best Dance Crew. R&B and pop superstar Beyoncé has even spoken out about the Ball Culture. In fact, this movie's choreographer, Frank Gaston, Jr., and its composer, Kimberly Burse, are both people who worked for Beyoncé.
Despite this, the Ball Culture is still very much an underground society, made up of people like Brad, played by Ephraim Sykes (30 Rock), who are mainly outcasts, out of the mainstream. A lot of the songs featured speak to that. The songs speak to the anger and frustration or often despair of that. Like any good musical, the songs help convey plot as well, but mostly they are asides to assist in bringing out the inner monologues of the characters. There are eleven songs and Phillip Evelyn and Mark "Barbie-Q" Peacock dominate them, both being great vocalists.
As compared to other movie musicals, made by independent gay filmmakers, this has fare that would be typical to your usual, upbeat, Broadway show, but the majority of the tunes and indeed tone here are exemplified in the seventh number titled, "My Lament." Other musicals of this type like Colma: The Musical (2006) and Were the World Mine (2008) are more comedic and possess more humor. Filmmaker Sheldon Larry takes a more serious approach, especially on the youthful indiscretions and infidelities that are normal.
Aside from Brad, the origins of the other characters aren't even hinted. Evelyn and Barbie-Q, as I said, are both great vocalists, and the songs they perform give us great awareness of what they're feeling or experiencing in the moment, but we get nothing of their back-stories. With the slight exception of Barbie-Q's character, we're not given enough to hang our hats.
Three Stars out of Five.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 30 mins.
Aired April 21 at 10PM on LOGO.