Recently I took a 6 week burlesque course at The House Of Trixie Blue in Newcastle http://www.houseoftrixieblue.co.uk .
I thought I had an idea of what I was letting myself in for having done a burlesque workshop previously. However, one lesson in with the incredible Trixie Blue #sapphireofseduction (and the most amazing teacher I’ve ever met), I can safely say my horizons broadened in ways I’d never envisaged. So, for all you lovelies out there, I’m going to share with you 10 things I learned when I dared to burlesque!
- There are many different styles of burlesque. I’m not ashamed to say, I thought it was fancy pants getting your gear off. But no, I couldn’t have been further from the truth! There’s classical burlesque, bump and grind (does what it says on the tin!), jazz inspired (think Chicago), cheesecake (i love this saccharin sweet, “oops I seem to have dropped something” burlesque style as much as I love cheesecake itself) and boudoir (i adored this, mainly because I’m a bit of a lazy ass and enjoyed sitting down for the hour being glam!) Putting it simply, there’s a style for everyone!
- Actually it’s not just about stripping. Really? Hell yeah, it began around the 1840s as a form of entertainment which made fun of high brow society.
Think of words like ‘parody’, ‘satire’ and ‘comedy’ and you’re getting the idea. (NB Remember this bit if you’re thinking of signing up as Trixie quizzes you each week with “what is burlesque?”) Who knew that when censorship laws stopped ladies from flashing a bit of nip, those cheeky lasses covered them up with glitzy pasties drawing even more attention to them. So gotta love the sass!
- Its a great workout. Seriously those guys who passed the studio door one evening didn’t know quite where to look. It had gotten pretty steamy in there and Trixie opened the door on a pretty busy Brentwood Avenue in Jesmond to let some air in and the rest you can imagine! Seriously tho its great exercise for both the body and the mind – remembering those moves and seriously exercising both body and facial muscles (more of that later!) Even better, whilst most classes were done in gym gear it’s also possibly the only exercise I can think of where you can get to look glamorous at the same time. Check out Trixie looking steamy (but not sweaty), if only I could perfect that come hither look!!
- It pushes you out of your comfort zone. Nay, it actually boots you out of your comfort zone quicker than you can say “shimmy”! The little ice-breakers at the beginning of the session were a little nerve wracking (shaking it like the proverbial polaroid picture to a stranger anyone?) However Trixie really handled these bits like the pro she is and afterwards I got a real sense of “oh my god I just totally did THAT!” It’s easy to see why so many people say burlesque improves their confidence not only in the studio but in other areas of their lives.
- It celebrates the female form. All the moves are designed to make you look the best you can – elongated arms and legs, sideways on stance, tantalizing peeks. which leads me to…
- It’s inclusive. Burlesque champions uniqueness. Sure Dita is one gorgeous gal (and a particular fave of mine – cue gratuitous pic)
BUT (or should it be butt?) there is no one ideal. Google acts such as Lola L’Amour, the Fat Bottom Cabaret Girls and even Matt Fraser (who I only knew as ‘Seal Boy’ and from American Horror Story) to show you there are many different burlesque acts. As someone with more than her fair share of body issues, I can tell you that burlesque is liberating. I can also honestly say that although I will never enjoy looking at myself in a mirror (especially a full wall sized mirror) however as the weeks went by I did become a little less hung up about what I looked like (Rome wasn’t built in a day right?) There were ladies of all shapes and sizes there, some girls inked some girls not, some older, some younger – every single one beautiful in their own way and the most important lesson I took away is that no-one “has it all”. It’s about appreciating and making the most of what you’ve got and accentuating the best bits dammit – with sequins, feathers or a cheeky wink!
- It’s a safe place to be a bit silly, over the top and overall fantastic! We (mostly) have to behave ourselves in our daily lives and burlesque gives you the opportunity (actually more like demands) that you are the complete opposite. No-one is judging, everyone is engrossed in what they’re doing, it’s a brilliant stress reliever and you’re encouraged to….
- Fake it ’til you make it! Actually the more over the top you are, the better it becomes! Trixie showed us taking off a glove normal every day style and taking off a glove burlesque style with a knowing look, a cheeky tip of the head and a deliberate finger…by….oh…finger tug (you get the idea!) She’d done exactly the same thing, i.e. taken off a glove, but the results couldn’t have been more different. Actually, even if you were struggling with a fastening or had forgotten a move it didn’t matter as long as you just brazened it out with confidence (real or imagined) and style – another life lesson learned! Trixie being fabulous – thankfully splits are another class!
- It’s fun. There’s a reason why Trixie often uses the hashtag “bants in pants”! How can you be serious when you’re standing a room with a second bra fastened over your t-shirt? (So you can practise taking it off without flashing the flesh incase you’re wondering!) I imagine that the more you burlesque the better it gets. I can be a bit of a perfectionist intent on getting things ‘right’, there was no need and Trixie was always downright encouraging, but I think the fun factor would increase as I gained confidence – and remember I braved burlesque on my own without knowing anyone! Certainly all the other ladies looked like they were having fun, some of them having done the course at least once before (but many being only having gone as far as watching the film Burlesque!) and everyone left with a smile of their face and a bit of a glow- see also point 3!
- The best way to stop a stocking coming off too quickly when you’re taking it off over your head is to flex your foot every so slightly. Yes I know it’s a silly parting shot but I think it sums up what I learned about burlesque; it’s tongue in cheek, it’s partly about taking your clothes off (or actually leaving them on when in class – the irony!) it’s fun, it’s not what you think it might be and that last fact is very definitely true!!
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A huge thank you to The Vintage Vixen for her honest and beautifully written blog. Thank you all for reading. If you have any questions for The Vintage Vixen, check out her official blog here. If you have any questions for House of Trixie Blue or to join in the party, head on over to our Facebook page for a little more fun and giggles.
Have a fantastic day and don’t forget to shimmy.
Love & Shimmies
House of Trixie Blue