Drag Race alum Aja applauds fellow queen Denali for owning up to past voguing mistakes

Legendary contestant Aja has commended RuPaul’s Drag Race queen Denali for addressing past “nogueing” during her run.

When Chicago-based queens Denali and Kahmora Hall faced off during a lip sync battle in Drag Race season 13, it was widely seen as the best performance of the season.

Denali’s rendition of “100% Pure Love” by Crystal Waters was praised far and wide. While Hall sashayed away, Denali was catapulted into the hall of legendary lip syncs for her “duck-walking” and “vogueing” movements.

But just as Denali’s performance earned a wave of love and admiration, so too has it now attracted its fair share of criticism.

Recently, Drag Race has come under fire from members of the ballroom community, particularly cast members of recently axed vogueing competition Legendary, for “bastardising” the art form.

Among those who have made their feelings known was Gravity Jacobs, who called out season 15’s “vogueing” mini-challenge, and Drag Race double alumni Aja, who criticised Anetra’s talent-show number, in which she “walked her f**king duck”.

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Seemingly prompted by these recent spats (and a mention by another Twitter user), Denali has now owned up to “nogueing” on the show – a word used to describe someone attempting to vogue without having learnt how to do so properly.

“Dunno if I’ve ever publically addressed this but I’m aware I was very much nogueing during ‘Pure Love’. Big ole choppety chop chop I know,” the queen wrote on Twitter.

“But I love vogueing and have started taking classes since. Don’t wanna be a RuGirl nogue contributor so imma try to learn properly or just not.”

Denali, who finished eighth on season 13, followed up by acknowledging that drag culture is inextricably tied to the ballroom community.

“I understand that drag as a ‘parody’ art form can get real appropriative very fast,” she continued.

“I understand I wouldn’t have the platform I have or be able to sustain myself and have a drag career if it wasn’t for the ballroom community. I understand why they’re deservedly protective.”

Luckily for Denali, Aja, who competed on Drag Race‘s ninth season before returning for All Stars 3, has accepted her apology with grace.

“This is the type of thing I love,” she said. “Denali, thank you so much for saying this and for speaking up, I think you’re going to be a fab voguer.

“If you need people in Chicago, I know the scene out there and can put you up with the right people.”

Aja, who previously said that Anetra’s “duckwalk” had made a “mockery” of vogueing in a series of now-deleted tweets, followed up with further appreciation of Denali’s apology.

“This is a Denali stan account as of today,” she wrote, before posting one more tweet on the matter.

“Get your head out of your ass and start listening to the people from that community. Because a lot of you are not even part of the community, yet have a lot to say.”

Vogueing originated in the Harlem ballrooms of New York’s Black and Latino LGBTQ+ communities and is an integral part of those queer communities to this day. In 1990, it was catapulted from subculture to the mainstream by Madonna’s “Vogue” music video and the ground-breaking film Paris is Burning.

Since appearing on Drag Race, Aja became the mother (head) of the legendary House of LaBeija – one of the most famous ballroom houses in the world, though no longer operates as such. She recently returned to the Drag Race franchise in All Stars 8‘s premiere episode as a lip-sync assassin.