14 March 2016

My first burlesque lesson...

I didn’t expect to be at a Burlesque class (well, so soon after I'd broken my ankle, anyway).  I’d met the Principal Enchantress of the House of Trixie Blue (real name Kristi Lennon, aka Trixie Blue) at a networking event last year and it was her winning personality and obvious passion for her business that won me over at first. I hadn’t really thought a lot about what the classes would actually entail. I’d thought a little bit about what my burlesque name would be when I start performing (er….) - right now I’ve got as far as Coco…something. It needs to be French related. Help, anyone?
I’d done a bit of research leading up to the first class - I’d wikipediaed Burlesque and was blown away by the history of the art of the tease (it originated in Ancient Greece, you know). It started off in the form of political satire (intelligent stuff) and went through many transformations before it became the entertainment that we recognise today. Like most types of performance there are many different genres of burlesque, and looking at the women who pushed the boundaries in burlesque last century (often getting arrested in the process), you can’t help but be inspired to at least try. I spent many hours browsing Pintrest boards and Youtube videos of the burlesque stars of years gone by - Tempest Storm, Sally Rand, Gypsy Rose Lee, and more modern day icons such as Dita Von Teese. I watched the recent Burlesque film with Cher and Christina Aguilera. Three times. It was seeping into my bones...

Gypsy Rose Lee
Tempest Storm

Sally Rand


Dita Von Teese
Last year I binge watched Rupaul’s Drag Race and used to lie there thinking - “that looks like so much fun, why can’t women do that???" But we CAN. That’s burlesque. In today’s fast-paced society, where careers are so prioritised, what about our sexuality? What about tapping into our innate femininity and embracing our bodies, our desires, our right to be seen? It’s so easy to bury it and get used to wearing boring underwear and forgetting what it was like to have a dressing up box like when we were kids. Except now mine's crammed full of stockings, opera gloves, corsets and nipple tassels!

It’s obvious when you go and watch Burlesque that it’s all about empowerment, the performer isn’t doing it for the benefit of the audience, that’s a by-product of her confidence and strength of character. There’s a lot to think about - outfits, music, style and the routine itself. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted. 



Trixie and her Burlesque Babes
I went to see a couple of performances before I went to my first class which helped me get in the mood a little bit more. (Wine also helps). The class isn't serious and Kristi is a great teacher, who also finds it easy to make fun of herself and break down routines for the uninitiated. You’re just trying to get through the routine at first, but when you start feeling more comfortable you start connect with that inner goddess (apologies for sounding all 50 Shades) that’s dying to come out. 

There's ladies from age ranges and some are even there for the third or fourth time, they love it that much. The hour flies by - then luckily afterwards you're sent an email so you can practice the moves at home, as well as what's going to happen next week and which props you need to bring. The main issue I have is that the studio is sandwiched between a cake shop (open till 10pm) and a waffle place on Brentwood Avenue in Jesmond. Be strong ladies. The mirror in the studio isn’t all that forgiving...

Check out House of Trixie Blue here

I'm excited about the Periwinkle Pussycat event at the end of March - get your tickets here...





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