dancing hermione is a celebration of lgbt values and stan culture
We caught up with her creator, YouTuber, performer, and Harry Potter uberfan, Kelsey Ellison.
Voguing at Pride isn’t newsworthy -- it’s Pride! People vogue! But voguing at Pride while dressed as an extremely realistic Hermione Granger, now that really is something. A video posted on Twitter last weekend, described as “Hermione finding her people” features the Harry Potter character showing off some serious moves.
‘Dancing Hermione’ is the brainchild of Kelsey Ellison, who blew up earlier this year when a video of her voguing at MCM Comic Con while dressed as the bushy haired Gryffindor -- in a pretty convincing costume -- went viral. “I’m a bit of a geek and I’ve been attending MCM Comic Con for years now, and I always cosplay as my favorite characters”, Kelsey told i-D. “I’m a massive Harry Potter fan so I decided to go as Hermione this year. I was just having fun and dancing by the stage outside to the music and my friend Connie filmed me and posted it to Twitter. I’m always dancing when there’s music!”
Kelsey, who lives in North London, never expected the video to resonate as much as it did, but soon it was being retweeted thousands of times. While viral fame can often go very wrong indeed -- as most recently, Plane Bae shows all too well -- Kelsey’s experience has been, happily, a positive one. “I can’t believe how nice and supportive everyone has been”, she says. “Of course, there have been some mean or homophobic comments, and some people just not understanding the dance style, but the huge majority has been positive. The thing that’s annoyed me most is people assuming I’m drunk or on drugs when that wasn’t the case at all -- I just like to have fun!”
The type of dancing Dancing Hermione is best known for is voguing, a style which reached mainstream audiences through mediums like RuPaul’s Drag Race, but which originated in the traditionally black ballroom scene of the LGBT community. It features heavily in seminal film Paris Is Burning, something Kelsey credits with introducing her to voguing, along with watching the videos of Japanese dance duo Ayabambi. “I fell in love with the style and started copying the moves I saw on YouTube”, the 26-year-old explains. “I’ve never actually been taught it, although I am planning on going to actual classes now to make it even better.”
Her dancing is already so recognizable that while at Pride in London, Kelsey says plenty of people spotted her immediately as the “voguing Hermione!” and a video of her death dropping in the middle of a crowd of rainbow flags promptly went viral all over again this weekend. Kelsey’s passion for Harry Potter even goes beyond Dancing Hermione -- the YouTuber and performer is currently working on a fan film called Sisters of House Black, which she’s funding via an Indiegogo campaign. “Maybe I’m a little bit too obsessed with Harry Potter,” she says.
Kelsey, who herself identifies as bisexual and demisexual, says the decision to take her cosplay to Pride was one based on a number of factors, her own sexuality being just one of them. “The dance style is obviously celebrated in gay culture and was created by young gay men”, she tells i-D. “I don’t take myself too seriously, and I’m a stupidly huge Harry Potter fan. I’ll happily dance in 30 degree heat for it.”
She also adds: “Hermione is in my opinion a character who would support and stand up for LGBTQ+ rights.” The link between the message of acceptance and love in the Harry Potter fandom and the LGBT community is not new, particularly not at Pride, where plenty a Dumbledore costume has been seen over the years.
As Kelsey herself points out: “A huge message in Harry Potter is that love is the most powerful thing of all.”