Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Has the art of burlesque come back in style or am I just new? It certainly seems as though it has come back with a vengeance. I'm typically not one to get excited about the cyclical nature of fashion. I was all too thrilled when we grew out of the horrid style of the 1980s and when I started seeing some of those ridiculous clothes making an appearance again, I cringed and gagged a bit, I have to admit.  But, when I saw my first live burlesque show a few months ago, I was absolutely thrilled. Then the movie came out with Cher and Christina and I couldn't wait to go see it in the theater.

If you've been under a rock, allow me to explain what I'm talking about.

Burlesque has been a loved art form for centuries actually. Did you know that the word is derived from an Italian word meaning "joke". Back in the olden days, it was simply a satirical representation of serious events. It eventually morphed into a variety show on stage with elaborate costume and performances to entertain the masses. The Americans eventually got word of it and turned it into a strip tease of sorts. Pesky Americans always with sex on the brain. It lost a bit of steam around the late 1940s, but it sure seems to be back now and I'm all over it.

You may or may not recall that I did a bit of belly dancing a few months back? In doing so, I found out about the fabulous Miss Indigo Blue's Academy of Burlesque right here in Seattle. The idea crossed my mind that I may want to try one of her intro to burlesque classes out to see if I might like to get schooled in the art of the tease. I did nothing with those innocent little thoughts...that is until recently.

I went to a burlesque performance called J'Adore which was a special Valentine's Day performance at  The Triple Door in Seattle (fabulous venue by the way even if the food served is just...wrong). Guess who was one of the performers! You'll never guess. Guess! Ok, I'll tell you. Miss Indigo Blue of course. I promptly went home and scheduled my burlesque for dummies class otherwise referred to as "A Taste of the Tease". The 1 hour class is designed to give you a little introduction to the world of burlesque with fun and playful lessons in the basics. No coordination or experience required!

How did it go?

I LOVED IT! Not only was the class fun and interesting but Indigo was an amazing teacher. If you're like me and maybe a little shy with your jiggly bits, trust me, you have nothing to fear in one of Indigo's classes. She was a wonderful instructor. Cute as can be, she was dressed in a perfect 1950s house dress complete with fishnets and cat eye glasses. She definitely looked the part but instead of being cross and overbearing as one would typically expect from someone who calls herself a "headmistress", she was welcoming and kind.

Class began with a welcome and everyone went around the room introducing themselves with a little story about what interested each of us in burlesque. Everyone said basically the same thing, "it just looks like fun so I wanted to give it a try".

Side note: Did you know that Miss Indigo Blue is the star of her very own documentary? A Wink and a Smile. I haven't actually seen the documentary myself. Not yet anyway. I do know that it's a Seattle indie film that follows a few of our local burlesque performers around though. I believe you can stream it on Netflix if you're interested.

Anyhow, after the introduction, we got moving. We learned a handful of basics. Let's see if I remember them all here.
  1.  The bump and grind
  2.  The burlesque basic
  3.  The walking basic
  4.  How to shimmy and shake
  5.  Flirty tricks
  6.  Fun with props
I feel like I may be forgetting something but you get the idea anyway. If you have no dance experience, have no fear. If you are shy about your jiggly bits, rest assured. There were no complex dance moves and no stripping required. Well, that's only partially true. We did do a bit of stripping but we did not take off the clothes we came in with. No, no, no. Instead, we put a few things on so we had a few things to take off.

The bump and grind was the first of the exercises we learned. Bump the apple, bump the orange, and griiiiiind the coffee. Don't forget to remember the division between church and state now. That's very important.

As simple as the burlesque basic is, there's just something about it that makes you feel sassy and ready for fun, or maybe that's just me. Putting it in motion though, that's where stage domination comes in, I'm sure of it.

What can be said about the shimmy and the shake? I mean really. Actually, I found this part of class rather reassuring. It's no secret that I have a bit more of me to go around than I would prefer. You know what happens when you shake what the good lord gave you? It takes on a life of it's own. In the past, that would be something I would shy away from. Fat girls just shouldn't shake their shit in other people's faces, that's been one of my many mottos over the years. Well, I got a distinct feeling from attending this class that Indigo would snap my fingers with her ruler for that comment because she encouraged us "shake it to the bone".

The flirty tricks were totally cheesy but equally as enjoyable. Burlesque is all about making fun of the serious aspects of life, literature, events, etc. and using exaggerated expressions to do the fun making when it comes to sex was perfect. If you feel silly trying to act sexy, then why not turn it into a silly sexy joke? Want to know a little secret? Silly sexy jokes work for heating up the stage too, even if it is just in the privacy of your own bedroom.

Nothing adds to the exaggeration better than a big fluffy feather boa. Am I right or am I right? Yes, you guessed it, out came the props. We learned to enhance our tease with the boa and some of those silky, luxurious gloves. Remember, you can't take anything off if you don't first put it on. One of the most important lessons I learned in the class was that the tease is so much better when it's first decorated. It's true. You can strip out of your street clothes just as well as you can strip out of a gold sequined dress but the sense of occasion (fantasy) you get when you first dress up makes the taking it off all the better.

It's no secret that the boys are visually stimulated creatures so why not use that to your advantage? Get yourself a sparkly costume and adorn it with jewels and feathers and gloves, oh my. Then sign up for one of Indigo's burlesque classes to learn the moves to flaunt your stuff. You'll have your guy drooling in no time. And I might add that you'll feel like a million bucks, no matter what size you are in the bust or around the waist.

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