Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Ecdysiastic Enterprise

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 clich√©, 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.

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