Keeping Ballroom Community Alive Network

The Inaugural Ballroom Symposium was curated by Martez Smith while completing the Creating Responsible Intelligent Black Brothers (C.R.I.B.B.) Fellowship, a year-long leadership development program operated by NAESM (National AIDS Education & Services for Minorities, based in Atlanta, Georgia. The development and implementation of a community-based leadership development project which impacts Black Gay/same-gender-loving men is the pinnacle of the CRIBB Fellowship. In April of 2015, Martez conceptualized the Inaugural NYC Ballroom Symposium, subsequently working with CRIBB Faculty and NYC House and Ball community members to develop and implement the concept. The Inaugural Ballroom Symposium was held on Friday, August 21, 2015, which also served as the official launch of the Keeping Community Alive Network (KCAN).


During the initial KCAN meeting, Martez Smith and Jonathan Lykes, policy analyst at the Center for the Study of Social Policy, held a 1 hour focus group. The purpose was to gauge community interest and solicit input to inform the development of KCAN.


The first KCAN Retreat was held on March 25-27th, 2016 at Union Theological Seminary. Activities were spearheaded by Michael Roberson who oriented community members/network stakeholders to social liberation work via ancestral remembering, engagement in critical thought, discussion, critique and re-envisioning the possible futures. The retreat culminated with an activity which challenged community members to examine the past, present and future subsequently leading to the development of the official vision and mission of the KCAN. Additionally, community members decided to change the name of the network to Keeping Ballroom Community Alive Network, emphasizing the grassroots and focused nature of the initiative.


The second KBCAN Retreat was held on May 21-22nd, 2016 at the SUNY Downstate Biotech Incubator, home of The HEAT Clinic. A thorough review of the conceptualization, development and implementation of Inaugural Ballroom Symposium was conducted. This was the framework through which community members continued development of the KBCAN vision and mission, as well as the Second Annual Ballroom Symposium. Additionally, an array of related tasks were completed, including:

  • Development of a communication plan

  • Vision statement solidified via consensus

  • Working draft of the mission statement developed

  • Draft of network structure developed

  • Logic model developed

  • 4 planning subcommittees/workgroups developed; Symposium planning, ball planning, media & branding, data and evaluation.

  • Discussed recruiting paid interns from within the community.

  • Identified target population (ballroom participants (people who walk balls) and their affiliates, people of black and/or Latino descent, age-inclusive with a focus on youth)

  • Decided on a theme for the Second Annual Ballroom Symposium: Reclaiming the Narrative.


The third KBCAN face to face meeting was held on July 16th, 2016 at the SUNY Downstate Biotech Incubator. Community members made significant progress in planning for this year’s ballroom symposium. Development of additional KBCAN programming (Financial Literacy TOT, Elements of Vogue Intervention) was discussed, the official KBCAN website was drafted, and an email addressl obtained (kbcanetwork@gmail.com). Additionally, a tentative Ballroom Symposium Agenda was composed along with an official title and tagline for Ballroom Symposium kiki ball;

Ball theme: TITLE: Keeping The Ki Alive, Part 2: Reclaiming The Narrative

Themework: Anti-oppression, uplifting our ancestors, liberation. Categories drafted.