Werk! Evolution Project’s Youth Ballroom Awards brings out best in competition, education

But there will also an HIV prevention aspect to the ball as Evolution Project, part of AID Atlanta, strives to reach young black gay men on ways to protect themselves from the disease that impacts them in higher rates than any other demographic.

“Based on the work we do here [at Evolution Project] and for them to get more knowledge, we wanted them to learn something as well as walking the ball. Some of the people participating in balls will learn about Evolution Project if they’ve never been here and get involved in it,” said Antoine Bates, activities and recruitment coordinator for the Evolution Project.

For example, one School Boy category is described as this: “You’re interviewing for a new intern position at ONAP (Office of National AIDS Policy) and they asked you to name your top 3 ways that the nation can reduce new HIV infection. (Please dress the part).”

There is also a $500 cash award to the House that gets at least 25 people tested for HIV at the Evolution Project. There’s also a category for Sex Siren with a $250 cash award that awards the winning House that looks good but also knows the questions to a quiz on HIV vaccines.

“A lot of times places neglect the ballroom scene. We want to open the doors so they can be themselves as well as get any services they need,” Bates said.

Competition combined with creativity is also meant to empower the youth.

“You wouldn’t believe the creativity they show. The fashion. The outfits displayed in these balls are so awesome,” Bates added.

Photo: It’s a celebratory atmosphere at the Evolution Project’s Youth Ballroom Awards that praises the runway feats of those ages 18-28. (via Facebook)