Written By Nicci Lou
How do we define a word? Nowadays we have technology on our side, but definition is and has always been done the same way: by observing its use in the population. So, I have hit the streets, got cosy in Miss Cherry Bliss Burlesque Boutique and trawled social media asking YOU ‘what is Burlesque?’ And this is the response rewritten (with very few words of my own) and blended together for entertainment and information purposes. But, remember… this is anecdotal, so believe what you may and check what you need to before sharing it as fact!
The Art of Tease
Burlesque is foreplay at its most fabulous. It is the most beautiful sequences of seduction in dance. It is provocative; sexy to watch: an exaggerated dance, or form of striptease, with sexy underwear. It is making a sexual statement. Burlesque keeps the audience transfixed through artistry and suggestion. It is variety performance with cabaret and stripping that appeals to women: that don’t necessarily identify as being attracted to women sexually. With its feather boas, skimpy clothes and dancing girls, that don’t actually show anything naughty, it is more risque’ and certainly tasteful, tasteful, tasteful. Posh even.
Some say it is the attire that makes it burlesque as the performance generally requires the removal of beautiful lingerie, bustiers, corsets, stockings, suspenders, and high heels. Shouldn’t there always be a feather boa? Don’t forget the teasing, tassels and lace. It can be musical, comedic or just about anything scantily clad. It is boobs, boobs, boobs and is mostly performed by women but can be performed by men. For example one man dresses in a Zorro outfit and whips his own flesh… Burlesque is skinny dipping to music. It is titillating and without any actual vulgarity. It is erotic dancing for the performer and certainly not stripping FOR an audience. It is 10,000 gemstones stuck on a corset while watching a box set. It is total transformation that is sexy for everyone.
Making a statement
Burlesque is a platform for a woman to express her current views of the world through either a short satirical sketch, or a dark dystopian peek into our future. Either way, it is beautiful as all naked female bodies are. Burlesque is the expression of oneself through art and dance while feeling at one with your body and wearing as much or as little as you please.
It is an art form; a celebration of the body. It is empowerment for women and a performance that leaves the audience wanting more of what can vary from classic striptease to downright weird. Burlesque embraces womanhood in all its glory. It is often performed in a theatrical way with singing and dancing. It is ‘bad ass’ as you have to be really fit and acts can include aerial work or pole dancing.
Burlesque is becoming someone else as creative characters like Queen Boadicea and Lady Voldemort. It is fierce positivity with strong women and men. It is supporting your friends…
Burlesque is the need to take the 5th amendment. It is women that timidly put on an outfit and immediately gain the confidence to joke and proposition a man in front of their wife! It is blue feathers on a red carpet; strangers helping each other tie laces and stiletto shoes. It is collaboration and outing art into the public arena.
Burlesque is self-expression that doesn’t seem to be demeaning. It is ‘my girl’s passion’. It is total empowerment and not about body image, but about its expression. It is freedom!
Burlesque mocks. It is a parody, which fits with the Italian origination of the word ‘burla’ meaning mockery. It is tongue in cheek or the overt ‘making fun’ of something earnest. It is taking a serious issue and making it funny. It can make you laugh, but also cry. Burlesque is shoulder, shoulder, shake, shake and raucous laughter. It is arm rolls and shimmer jazz hands. It is fun; buzzy and audience enjoyment or participation. It can be a hobby; stress relief; a bit of fun. It can be performed by amateurs and professionals alike. Burlesque feels good. It is ‘am I too old for my first show at 72?’
Where does it come from? The History of the affair
The French would translate Burlesque to ‘female clowns’ or ‘slap-stick’. Has Burlesque come to the UK from the Paris show Moulin Rouge? It was originally a form of caricature: for example the mocking of the way a person played the grand piano in the film Amadeus portraying the life of Motzart.
Does the term Burlesque make you think of girls being run by a ‘mother’ of the house too? For example in the film ‘Dance girl Dance’ : the famous Australian film of the 1940’s.
Burlesque returned to the mainstream in 1959 thanks to the American ‘Gypsy Rose Lee’ and her memoir being made into a stage musical called ‘Gypsy’. Then again in 1972 the British, blues, rock band ‘Family’ titled one of their tracks ‘Burlesque’. This was the same year the film Cabaret featuring Liza Minelli was released: a film based around Burlesque and set in pre-war Germany.
Burlesque is old fashioned, but never goes out of fashion. It is regaining popularity thanks to Dita Von Teese who entertains with elegance and grace. This phenomenal artiste was at Erotica many years ago and still entertains the masses today. Another professional that performs to awed audiences, and this week in Worthing, is Dawn Gracie. She always leaves the newly initiated wanting more.
Burlesque can be found now from Butlins to Bendiorm. If you are interested in an Ibiza Burlesque festival then Sapphira saph is your lady. On the Sunny West Coast there is Sirona Thornycroft. For all your burlesque needs wherever you are going Miss Cherry Bliss Burlesque Boutique can help with outfits, accessories, events, workshops and Boudoir photography.
Burlesque was once gorgeous curvy girls in cheeky corsets sitting in cocktail glasses with feathers, but it is time for the rise of the men too with Boylesque, as it is called, featuring the likes of Lou Safire and Dave the Bear.
Bringing body confidence
On my journey to define Burlesque, in a prestigious shopping arcade walk through, in the darkness, illuminated by a large pale, yellow moon, I was drawn to the laughter coming from a shop. Miss Cherry Bliss Boutique in Worthing is run by the warm and welcoming Kevin and owned by Sarah: a woman oozing passion and inspiration. Inside women were changing before my eyes from timid to confident.
Megan (aged 24) was drawn to an entertainment that celebrated the hour glass body shape that in a distant dream she hated. Tanya (54) was introduced to the world of Burlesque by her partner. All the women gained in confidence as I watched them try on outfits. Lynsey (44) saw a friend get dressed up and become immediately confident and thought to herself, ‘I want some of that’.
“I’m slim, no breasts, you call me long legged I call myself flamingo, but stick me in a corset and I have an hourglass shape. I am not me. I have confidence” says Fiona (aged 55).
Burlesque is for every shape and size. It is a transformation from being slumped to being ladylike. It is seeing each other in a new light. It is being helped and inspired by others. Burlesque is getting your twinkle back; getting your Goddess back. You arrive feeling downtrodden and leave feeling good about yourself; wanting to conquer the world.
Burlesque CAN be naked sexy dancing for the curvier woman. But it IS rocking it; Diva-ing it up; smiles and self-expression. It is encouragement and showing your best features. It’s looking amazing in shape wear and remembering you rock without it. I might just give it a go….
With warm thanks to the following people for your words
Alx (43), Amelia (37), Briony (let’s call her 39), Casey (49 wanting to be 21) Cazza (44), Charlotte (39) Cola (54), Dalina (28) Deborah (50), Fie (49), Fiona (50), Fiona (55) Hazel (46) Jackie (60) Jane (62) Janine (56), Jennifer (36), Jo (60), Joanna (53), Jude (45), Lesley (46), Lisa (31), Lizzi (49) Louisa (39) Lucy (44), Lydia (50), Lynsey (44), Marie (48) Megan (24), Michelle (36) Nicky (48) Rebekah (49), Samantha (52), Sarah (49), Selina (50) Sharon (57) Sharon (69), Sirona Thornycroft; Sue, Susanna (60), Val (55), Tanya (51), Tracy (45), Vero (ageless) ,
Andrew (30), Al (53) Ben (50) David (54), David (82 but identifying with being 21) Gary (45) John (85) Jon (64) Josh (24) Kevin (39) Mark (59), Pete (43) Raymond (72) Richard (62) Stuart (30) Tony (52)
Contact Lizzi Mills for £100 OFF her £175 Boudoir photography package today and feel amazing for only £75. This fantastic offer must end soon!’