Malcolm McLaren & The Bootzilla Orchestra – Deep in Vogue
Ah, 1989. What a year. Like a Prayer. The Sensual World. Peak S/A/W. Results – of both the exam and Liza Minnelli variety. My last full year at school. Hormones. Yes, it was a thrilling time to be a pop loving teenager. So what if the biggest selling act of the year was Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers? There was an almost embarrassing amount of amazing records that year, and quite a few of them were made by Malcolm McLaren and the Bootzilla Orchestra. When Waltz Darling appeared in the chart in May it felt like some sort of notification – I knew absolutely nothing about the culture that had inspired this completely brilliant song and couldn’t ever hope to replicate the unusual dancing going on in the video, but something about it alerted me to fabulous times ahead. If there was a year that shaped me in to the person I am today, it was definitely 1989 – and the Waltz Darling album played a huge part in that.
Nestling on the b-side of that single was Deep in Vogue, which acted as a sort of equivalent to The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, only it was introducing voguing. I could explain it all at great length but it’s probably easier to just go and watch Paris is Burning. You won’t regret it.
Enter Madonna. Pop’s greatest magpie saw something shiny and flew off with it, intending to create a b-side for Keep it Together before realising that she’d just made arguably her defining record. Vogue emerged in March of 1990 and swiftly conquered the world, spending four weeks at no.1 in the UK. There was a bit of an attempt at a pop row at the time about how she’d stolen the whole idea from Malcolm, but it never amounted to much because she’s always pinched the best bits of subculture and repackaged them for the mainstream. And it was actually a bit of a moot point in this case – notwithstanding the fact that Malcolm himself was appropriating it from the Harlem Ballroom scene of the late 1980s, in pop the concept had been around since as far back as 1975. Nobody ever seems to mention it, but the lead single from Carly Simon’s Playing Possum album was a track called Attitude Dancing, which saw her playing with elements of disco for the first time. Sample lyric: “There’s a new kind of dancing / That’s going to be the rage / You just leave yourself behind / Like an actor on a stage / Cop a different pose / From the pose you’re in / Shine a different attitude / From underneath your skin.” Yes, as far as I’m concerned, Carly Simon invented voguing and we’ll say no more about it.
The happy outcome of all this was that Deep in Vogue finally got released in the UK as a single in its own right (oddly credited this time to Malcolm McLaren and the House of McLaren) – though sadly without the success it truly deserved. Featuring Lourdes Morales and the ballroom scene legend Willi Ninja (who stars in the incredible video and wrote the spoken word intro), it is a glorious thing – a cocky, proud record in a ‘look what we did’ kind of way, honouring a community that was being decimated by AIDS but which refused to stop being fabulous. There’s a particularly magnificent remix by Mark Moore and William Orbit entitled Banjie Realness, which throws in samples from Paris is Burning and is absolutely one of my favourite twelve inches ever. Running to just over nine minutes, it’s a dancefloor epic, history lesson and catwalk extravaganza all in one.*
I’d only just started going to nightclubs at this time, so I can’t really say how much voguing actually took off – certainly no-one in Dumfries was forming their own House – but I don’t think starting a craze was ever the point of Deep in Vogue. The main point of it was to be a brilliant record – which it was – and also to celebrate a group of amazing people and the art form they’d created.
Entered chart: 12/05/1990
Chart peak: 83
Weeks on chart: 2
Who could sing this today and have a hit? Gaga.
*Years ago I made an amazing mix of this and Madonna’s Vogue, which sadly keeps getting taken down from Soundcloud. It’s quite exciting, if you like that sort of thing.
The video for the Banjie Realness version is blocked on youtube, but is available on Vimeo here – https://vimeo.com/182205924
Thank you for mentioning my Name..
I am Lourdes Morales. I habe had to live with, what was done to me by Malcolm McLaren. I recorded both hit Songs on the Album. The Title Waltz Darling & Deep In Vogue. It was not Malcolm ‘s idea. It was the idea of a DJ, DAVE DELVALE, He played in the Under grounds and dance Circuits. He was my friend. They met and gave him the idea. I, was a featured vocalist and used. It was a #1 International Hit Record in both sales and dance record. I ,only got credit , did not go on tour , they left me with my suitcases packed and put another person to lip sync my vocals on the Video and on Tour. I heaed it was Willie Ninja, that convinced Malcolm , not to take me. Madonna copied the idea, when she saw them perform at BAM. This was such a shame. I’ve struggled with the pain I endured, my whole life.
I completely agree: this is an outstanding record, beautifully played, remixed, sung and produced. Great pacing between the different sections too. Musically it is one of the top ten dance records/remixes of the eighties, startlingly original and classy at the same time. The production hasn’t aged at all (I first heard the song, video and album in 1991) and this goes for the entire album but especially this song – and especially the Moore/Orbit long remix, which is really the original among those released. Madonna’s subsequent single is pretty much a rip-off, it’s nowhere near the class of Deep in Vogue I think – and one of the reasons is that Lourdes is a much better vocalist.
Lourdes, I am sorry to hear you got cheated on this one, but the record and your vocal on it have touched many people in a deeply personal spot – not to mention getting them to dance their shoes off – it is a gem of a song, one you’d be proud of.
/Louise (from Sweden, owns a copy of the Waltz Darling/Deep in Vogue 12″)
Sadly enough. Not True. I’m Lourdes Morales ,the Original Singer of the #1 International Hit Record on Billboard both in club dance play & Club Dance Sales in 1989. I was also featured on the “Waltz Darling”. The title of the album. It waa also a hit in Europe. My voice was synced on the video Deep in vogue and lip synced in Europe on Tour. they had such a disappointing tour without me. They came back and made sure i waa on the waltz darling Video. Its in credible how people never knew the truth. Also Malcolm Mclaren did not create the idea for” Deep In Vogue. ‘ my friend at the time a Dj Dave Delvalle ! produced that record. We were all used and taken advantage of. My story is the truth.
I think most people at the time understood that McLaren had not “invented” vogueing, he never claimed to have done that. But the versions of the song that were released (12″ and album version) were remixed and co-produced by Mark Moore and William Orbit, even if those two had not been in charge of the original tracking and vocal sessions in NYC. The 12″ version we all know and love definitely is the work of Moore and Orbit (and others) too, they didn’t write the song but the finished record has some of their trademarks all over it.
I hear your grudge, but perhaps McLaren, Moore and Orbit didn’t want to release just a raw cut of what had been taped at the New York studio – they saw that the song could be expanded a bit, letting it grow into new skin, sort of..