Originally published January 14, 2013 on Dieselpunks After Dark
My resolution for this year is to be naked more. While much of that relates to self-confidence and body image, it also has to do with burlesque. I started out as a fan, but now I want to give back to the community and also inspire others the way the dancers have inspired me to be bold and sassy. I don’t expect to be a performer by the end of the year, but I am interested to see where this journey takes me and I welcome you along for the ride.
The first time I saw burlesque, I was vacationing in Seattle. A friend invited me to a goth club, which was having a fetish night featuring The Gorlesque Girls. I remember watching a curvaceous and elegant dancer do a routine to “Little Drop of Poison” by Tom Waits and wanting to be able to shed a corset and twirl tassels like her. I wanted her confidence– to be able to strut in heels like I owned the room and bare my body despite not fitting mainstream media’s standards of beauty.
My first burlesque class happened on a whim. I had been taking belly dance at Move Studio, and their newsletter mentioned that Ginger Valentine would be teaching her last bumps and grinds workout class at the studio, I decided to not let this opportunity slide. It was a hell of a workout and the perfect segue to All-con the following week, where I got a taste of more classical burlesque and subsequently wanted more.
Then, I found that Ginger had relocated to the Ruby Room, which had a Groupon for classes. Buying the Groupon eliminated any excuse I made up for not trying out burlesque again: too far away, too much of physical challenge, too sexual for me. I’m glad I made myself go. Burlesque classes didn’t just help me get in shape; they made me more confident. Yeah, that’s a total cliché, but it’s true.
While the Ruby Room’s burlesque classes focus on the dancing, the studio decided to try something a little different for the holidays: Ginger Valentine’s Naughty and Nice Workshop. In the span of two hours, Ginger and fellow Ruby Revue member Renee Holiday taught a handful of us a striptease routine to Joe Bonamassa’s “Santa Claus Is Back in Town”.
It was the first time I had done any striptease or danced with a boa so I didn’t know what to expect. The routine wasn’t too complicated, and I found that taking off clothing for a certain number of counts while making it look pretty was the biggest challenge. Ginger and Renee created a fun atmosphere that we were all wanting more at the end of the workshop. I was no exception.
Ginger had encouraged us to perform the routine for that special someone, and I jumped on that opportunity. For the next couple weeks, I rehearsed and improvised when I couldn’t remember a move. I haphazardly gathered up a costume and even bought pasties from Lemme Addams of Whiskey Tongue Burlesque. The pasties were the final step.
After a couple run-throughs to make sure I didn’t forget anything over Christmas, I made my debut for my one-person audience. I’ve danced for him before, but I’ve always felt awkward. This time, despite the parts that could use improvement, I didn’t. He loved the routine, and I was happy to have put my all into it. That was when I realized burlesque is something I truly love studying and doing.
Even if I end up not having more than one person in my audience, I’m still going to continue dancing, and I want to at least try to work up the courage to perform in front of more people. In the meantime, I will just continue to be part of the community through this blog and my attendance at shows. However, those pasties are begging to be worn again.