Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

30 years of Philly ballroom culture; Why the U.S. might be so unhappy | Morning Newsletter

All the local news you need to know to start your day, delivered straight to your email.

Raishad Hardnett and Lauren Schneiderman/Staff (custom credit)

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

It’s looking like we’re in the midst of a wild week in Philly weather. Today’s highs could reach 60 with temps expected to drop way down tonight and into tomorrow. 🤷‍♂️

I’ve got some interesting stories in today’s newsletter. We start it off with a deep look at Philly’s ballroom culture, both in written and documentary form. And further down, there’s coverage of the Eagles’ come-from-behind win last night. Also, be sure not to miss The Washington Post’s investigation into confidential documents revealing what U.S. officials hid from the public about the war in Afghanistan.

— Josh Rosenblat (@joshrosenblat,

Ballroom is its own universe. There’s glitz and glamour, sure. But there’s also so much more. Ballroom culture is now 30 years old in Philadelphia. Black LGBTQ people still run the scene here, but the audience is diversifying and spreading beyond the U.S.

A big part of the foundation of Philadelphia ballroom is the houses. They are LGBTQ chosen families, people who aren’t related by blood, but who support each other and compete against other chosen families at balls.

My colleagues explore all this and more in a documentary and written story that show the development and impact of Philadelphia’s ballroom culture over the course of three decades.

According to the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, the United States is nothing to smile about. Surveys indicate that American happiness has slipped since the 1980s. In 2019, the U.S. is ranked as the 19th happiest nation in the world. And, in a separate report, Philadelphia was ranked 165th in happiness out of 182 cities in the country.

Why? The U.N. report points to a few specific things. Social media, for example, can be hurting some. Others point to Americans’ quest for more money when they already have enough. Happiness may also be decreasing because Americans tend to overindulge, whether it’s on food, drugs, shopping, or even exercise.

What you need to know today

  1. The Washington Post published yesterday what they’re calling “The Afghanistan Papers," confidential documents that reveal American officials didn’t tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan.

  2. It looks like Philly’s going to have a wild week of weather: Temps could hit close to 60 today, before dropping down near freezing tonight and tomorrow. Oh, and we might be getting some snow.

  3. A salmonella outbreak has sickened people at four health care facilities in southeastern Pennsylvania. In many cases, the cause was pre-cut fruit from a New Jersey distributor.

  4. President Trump is holding a rally in a swing county in swing-state Pennsylvania today. Here’s what some voters there had to say about him.

  5. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side of the 2020 election, Joe Biden is finding himself chasing Pete Buttigieg in Iowa, pitting experience against excitement.

  6. Police are investigating the September death of a Bloomsburg University student from the Philadelphia area who died hours after he left his dormitory to attend a fraternity party.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

If you’re game to bike in the rain, more power to you. I’ll be staying dry, but enjoying the cool pictures. Awesome shot, @behtany.

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout out!

That’s interesting

  1. Let’s just say that last night’s game at the Linc wasn’t the most impressive display of football. My colleague, sports columnist Bob Ford, writes that the Eagles did their best to lose, but the lowly Giants didn’t let them.

  2. Not everyone’s happy that a 1,380-acre farm just became a jewel of New Jersey preservation.

  3. A new building is rising for two West Philly schools with a $40 million construction project. It’s a complicated funding structure that combines public and private money in a deal that Drexel University arranged.

  4. Penn students joined in a viral protest against sexual violence that has wound its way from South America to Philadelphia.

  5. Last season, when the Philadelphia 76ers played the Denver Nuggets, it was a showdown between the NBA’s two best centers. But this season, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic will both be looking to pick things up when they matchup tonight.

  6. What does a $100,000 Christmas tree look like? Well, you can see it onstage at the Academy of Music during the Pennsylvania Ballet’s Nutcracker, which runs through the end of the year.


“Gun violence is a crisis that demands all hands on deck. But before elected officials point fingers, they should make sure that they are doing all that is in their power.” — The Inquirer Editorial Board writes about Philadelphia’s lack of gun control enforcement.

  1. As you read about all these 2020 predictions, Devon Powers, an associate professor of advertising at Temple, writes about why we should challenge and question them.

  2. Marisa Porges, the head of an all-girls school outside Philadelphia, writes about closing the gap between men and women in computer sciences.

What we’re reading

  1. A Northeast Philly teen leveraged his online gaming network to help buy toys to replace the ones that were taken when a thief stole a truck filled with them for a Mayfair neighborhood Christmas display, CBS Philly reports.

  2. A Paralympic champion had battled a degenerative muscle disease that stripped her of her independence, took away the use of her legs, and left her in agonizing pain. Under Belgian law, she was free to end her life. The New York Times tells the story of the champion who picked a date to die.

  3. Disney+ launched a streaming service a month ago. A key to its quick success: Baby Yoda, The Verge reports.

Your Daily Dose of | A birthday cheesesteak

Model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen turned 34 recently and she posted on Twitter that one of her birthday gifts was a cheesesteak from Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philly.