I have always loved vintage glamour. In my early teens I became captivated by 40’s and 50’s film, finding the dramatic allure of Marilyn Monroe and the reserved elegance of Celia Howard far more appealing than anything contemporary to me. Like many others, this grew into a love for vintage fashion, art, culture and burlesque. (initially inspired, of course, by Bettie Page. How can anyone resist acts like 'Harem'?) While my personal style has gone from glam punk to kinder-whore to psychobilly and everything in between (all with various levels of success it has to be said), in the past few years I’ve been gradually ‘living’ my love for vintage more and more, spending my time voraciously seeking out the perfect 40's style tea dress (and the occasional 50's swing and wiggle) and being unable to go to bed until I’ve set my pin curls. It perhaps then follows (kind of stereotypically) that I also developed an interest in modern burlesque and then most recently, the crazy notion that i may actually want to learn the basics. So, the point of this blog is to share my session by session experience of a ‘Beginners Burlesque’ course, embarrassing moments and all.
Why I love the hurly burly
I’ll admit to having a pretty naive view of modern burlesque at first; feathers, nipple tassels and vaguely 40’s and 50’s inspired striptease was what sprung to mind. After going to a few events, along with my keen obsession with youtube, it became pretty clear how diverse and well, modern new burlesque (or 'Neo-Burlesque') actually is. Of my favourite acts, each performer had a unique character, told a story and most importantly, transported me to somewhere glamorous and believable. Acts could be cheeky and comic (Sherry Trifle), dramatic and dance-led (Vicky Butterfly, ‘Victorian Butterfly’) or emotional and fantastical (‘Winter’ by Beatrix Von Bourbon.)
Can I have a go?!?
Inspired, somewhat overly enthusiastic and never one to just sit back and watch (dammit!), I decided that I wanted to have a very amateurish go myself. Who could resist the glamour of it all?? I was clearly seduced by the idea rather than the practicalities: I hated drama at school, had never danced (my Mum called me ‘fairy elephant’ as a child) and the idea of revealing any amount of flesh fills me with utter dread. (the closest I have ever got to wearing a bikini was a tankini, now lurking at the back of a drawer somewhere) Still, I carried on nevertheless. Finding a class was tricky- I had to sift through the vast number of pole dancing/ lap dancing schools jumping on the burlesque bandwagon, or places offering: ‘classy hen night? Learn burlesque!’ After much searching (and through the magic of facebook) I found the course for me: run by an established burlesque performer with some great feedback from actual students, some of whom had even gone on to perform. It was surely meant to be- beginning on the day after my 29th birthday, if that wasn’t an omen to do something new, then what was? The confirmation email I received was enigmatic- I was to receive an email one week before the class began with a list of things to bring. (the mind boggles...) People’s reactions have been interesting: most are enthusiastic and think I am ‘brave’, a few have just looked horrified; ‘isn’t that stripping??’
The course starts in 14 days time...