House of Xtravaganza

The House of Xtravaganza

The House of Xtravaganza

The House of Extravaganza (original spelling) was founded in 1982 by Hector Valle, a gay man of Puerto Rican descent, recognized for his elegant and athletic style of voguing. While Hector Valle was familiar with the ballroom scene, he himself did not belong to a ball house. In the summer of 1982 he made a bold decision for the time to create an all-Latino ballroom house, in response to what was a nearly exclusive African American gay subculture.

Hector undertook the task of building up the House membership among friends he socialized with in the West Village of NYC and at popular nightclubs of the era, such as the Paradise Garage. One of the first to join Hector in the new venture was a transgender teen of Puerto Rican descent who came to be known as Angie Xtravaganza and would assume the role of “house mother”. Mother Angie would quickly emerge as the dominant leader and driver of the House.

In early 1983 The House of Xtravaganza made their first ballroom appearances. Although young and not widely experienced in ballroom competition, the desire to succeed captured the group numerous grand prize trophies in their first outings. Over the next few years the House of Xtravaganza would continue to recruit talented young members, often drawn from the downtown gay discos and nightclubs of NYC, and build up their recognition as a force to be reckoned with in the ballroom community. The outsider status as a Latino house within a primarily African American scene fostered a fierce family bond among the Extravaganzas, and that closeness emerged a recognizable distinction from many of the other houses. During this formative period, house mother Angie Xtravaganza felt that they had made their stand as an exclusively Latino group and, not wanting to exclude based solely on ethnicity, made the decision to open the house to all potential members regardless of ethnic background. The House of Xtravaganza would ultimately include African American, Asian, and Caucasian members, although it would remain true to its roots as a primarily Latino ball house.

In 1985 founder and house father Hector Valle died of complications from AIDS. Later that year Angie Xtravaganza recruited a young up and coming star of the ballroom scene named David Padilla to leave the rival House of Ebony and become father of the House of Xtravaganza. David Padilla had admired what the House of Xtravaganza had accomplished in a relatively short period of time and being of Dominican heritage felt a kinship to the primarily Latino house. To celebrate the House’s fifth anniversary, Father David and Mother Angie organized the 1987 Xtravaganza ball, held at the popular New York City nightclub Latin Quarter. It was one of the first balls to be held in a proper nightclub, as opposed to the social halls of Harlem which were the traditional venue for ballroom events. The House would continue to promote balls for the community throughout the years, including many at the most popular and famous NYC nightclubs of their era including Tracks, Sound Factory, Red Zone, Roxy, and XL.

membershipSeveral members of the House of Extravaganza of this period went on to become pioneers and icons within the ballroom community, as well as ambassadors of ballroom culture to the larger world including: Angie Xtravaganaza, David Ian Xtravagana, Danni Xtravaganza, Venus Xtravaganza, Carmen Xtravaganza, Bianca Xtravaganza, Hector Xtravaganza, and Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza. The House was also known for its stable of “impossible beauties”; transgender women (known as “fem queens” in ballroom lingo) who reigned in the ballrooms and worked as professional models and entertainers.