I’ve been meaning to blog for some time now about the burlesque journey that I recently embarked upon after starting a course hosted by Sheffield-based Secrets of the Boudoir Burlesque. I’m only halfway through the ten-week burlesque course but it’s been quite a journey so far, with mixed feelings along the way.
I decided to sign up to the course after going along to the last Secrets of the Boudoir Burlesque show at West Street Live in March (Secrets shows are held here quarterly) and hearing about the impending course whilst I was there. The course appealed to me because it is hosted by experienced burlesque performers Deadly Nightshade and Cherry Du Bois, and involves learning about everything burlesque – from posing and pouting to peeling and tassel twirling (eek!).
I’ve had a long-standing love for burlesque for a number of reasons. I love the vintage fashion and glamour, as well as the whole ethos of burlesque. I love that it’s inclusive and women of all shapes and sizes are welcome to take part because it’s about celebrating you, just the way you are! Men are even free to get involved too and there is a ‘boylesque’ craze circulating at the moment. There really is something for everyone.
The fabulous course I’m on has been great so far for building self-confidence. The highs of the first few weeks of the course have included meeting new and friendly people and opening a door into a whole new world, learning about corsets, nipple tassels, pin up poses and how to successfully ‘peel’ off a pair of stockings without landing on your face in a distinctly un-sexy heap! We’ve been encouraged to consider names and personalities for our burlesque alter-egos and at the end of the course, we can choose to take part in a friendly competition, performing a routine of our own to win the opening slot at the next Secrets of the Boudoir Burlesque show in September.
The ‘stripping’ debate
There haven’t been any ‘lows’ to the course as such just, for me, there’s been an occasional niggling, insecure doubt about what I could be letting myself in for because I would – if I was talented enough (and that remains to be seen!) – like to use the new skills I have learned to actually perform burlesque. I’ve had the odd doubt about potentially putting myself under the spotlight and performing burlesque professionally, and the occasional slightly negative reaction I’ve had to burlesque has made me think, ‘I hope people don’t think I’m training to become a stripper!’
But burlesque is not stripping. Whilst elements of striptease and nudity are often involved in burlesque routines, as a performer you are not there to get anyone ‘off’. Instead, your performance can tell a story – it can be sexy or it can be comical, satirical or even dark. Burlesque audiences want to be entertained, rather than turned on. To me, burlesque is creative, fun and celebrates all variations of the female form so when I have my insecure moments, I remind myself that these are the reasons I wanted to become involved in this scene!
Anyway, I’m signing off now to dash to the next burlesque class – tonight, we’re making our own nipple tassels! I’ll be sure to keep you informed of the next steps in my burlesque journey.
P.S. Secrets of the Boudoir Burlesque will be raising the temperature at its next show at West Street Live on Sunday, June 10th. Doors open 7pm until midnight and tickets are £8 on the door or £7 in advance. You can buy tickets from the Secrets of the Boudoir Burlesque website.