My First Year in Burlesque By Scarlet Rose
I can’t actually believe my first year in burlesque was now, over a year ago! The time has absolutely flown by and I’ve had a better experience than I could have ever imagined when I first sent that ever so polite and formal email to a certain Trixie Blue two years ago. So I’ve had a go at writing down some of the experiences I had in the very beginning and attempting to give a few tips to anyone that is now just starting out on their burly journey. And if any professionals are reading this, maybe it will give you a little giggle or a sympathetic eye roll.
The experience of telling people
Now, for various reasons I had kept it a big secret that I wanted to perform burlesque (see here for further ramblings), which meant that initially when I did start telling people I’d begun taking lessons I was terrified. Fortunately enough for me, most of my friends were very supportive, making comments along the line of, “It’s perfect for you! “This makes so much sense!” Hopefully, this will be your experience too, as I like to think if your friends truly support you in life, this is the only way they should respond. I also had friends who weren’t entirely sure what burlesque was and what I would be doing getting involved. They asked hundreds of questions to gain a better understanding of this profession. Don’t be offended by a deluge questions! This is usually a good sign of interest and enthusiasm.
However, you may also encounter a few Negative Nancys, who don’t respond so well to the fact that you may, possibly, should you choose… Expose some flesh in public! I still think my favourite/most offensive response was the very earnest concern from some people that I wouldn’t find the sort of man that was right for me while performing burlesque. I swear I am not making this up. The best thing to do in this situation is ignore the prejudices- as they more often than not haven’t seen a burlesque show, so they have no basis for their argument. Then I recommend stating that burlesque is a very important part of your life, and you’ve no time for people that don’t support you in it. Very tough to say, but it cuts out a lot of hassle in the meantime. And remember, this is more than likely caused by jealousy of some form. So just bear in mind, this isn’t your fault. It is probably their issue and not a reflection of your choices.
The task of telling parents- this will vary hugely depending on what they’re like and how your relationship is with them. Which feels like stating the obvious but is just to highlight I probably can’t give as generalised tips as for telling friends. Hopefully they will support you as most of the time, they just want you to be happy. However that is probably a judgement call for you to make. And I have to confess; I chickened out of telling my dad and got my mother to do it for me!
New skills- Costuming
If you can thread a needle and stick it through something pretty that you want to attach to your underwear, you can costume for yourself! That is literally all I am capable of; that and using gem-tac to adorn my costumes with thousands of rhinestones. The main key is patience as you will get things wrong, attach embellishment the wrong way round, drop rhinestones and sew parts of your costume together. As long as you’re willing to take the time to fix the mistakes then you will eventually complete your full costume. I also recommend having something mindless to put on in the background to help relieve some of the tedium such as music, TV shows (my personal favourite for this task is Real Housewives of Atlanta) or my new favourite recent discovery, podcasts! You don’t even need to watch anything with them.
Advanced tip: If you can learn to master a sewing machine, some tasks will become significantly faster and easier. I’m yet to get the hang of mine and as such, my St James’ Infirmary panel skirt was all. Hand. Stitched. But that’s another story for another time.
A very unexpected test of my patience was creating and maintaining my website www.scarletroseburlesque.co.uk. Doing this myself gave excellent insight into why professional website designers charge so much. It’s unbelievably tedious trying to move a textbox to realign by 2mm with a picture you’ve changed on a page. The method I found most effective was to leave the house (too many distractions) and work somewhere in one big chunk of time. If you only get little bits of work done at a time it will take so much longer than necessary.
Skill Honing- Time Management
As I ventured into a burlesque career at the same time I entered my second year of university, I realised I would have to start allocating and organising my time more efficiently- like a real grown up. My solution: write everything– shows, deadlines, meeting friends down in a diary. Your brain isn’t as good as remembering as you think it is. Then make a note of these in the year long planner most diaries have at the front and COLOUR COORDINATE. Not only rather enjoyable, it helps you to visualise where you will have a cluster of important dates and thus highlight when you need to be super organised and prepared in advance so that you avoid a weepy floor meltdown. See the example below for some hot stationary action:
One colour for deadlines, the other for shows, where they meet= get as much done in advance as possible!
So there you have a few tips for surviving your first year in burlesque, I do hope they’re of some use! And if you’ve got some of your own, feel free to post them in the comments below.
Love & Tassels
Scarlet Rose xxx