So. I guess since it came up in my last Food for Thought post, and the Wicked Wednesday prompt is “explore” …lemme tell you about my stint with burlesque.
I auditioned on essentially a whim. A conscious whim, because it was late on a Wednesday on the other side of town and I had zero dance experience, but nonetheless a whim.
A friend of mine did Rocky Horror with one of the women who ran the troupe. The event got shared around my social media circles, as you do, and I basically said “fuck it, why not.”
I had been taking a few pole/chair dance classes before then, trying to mentally get myself in tune with my “new” body (it’s almost like losing weight in and of itself doesn’t make you happy and suddenly full of body confidence. Weird.), feel “sexy” and more, well, feminine. (Spoiler alert: still am not more feminine in my day-to-day, but I do own 7″ heels now sooo there’s that?)
Anyway. Audition comes. They needed bodies. I was a body and willing to learn.
It took months for me to even do my first show, and that was group choreography. It took even longer to do a solo act.
Here’s the thing about burlesque: it’s fucking hard. And kinda expensive. And you probably won’t make nearly enough to pay for costumes and stuff until years down the road (unless you’re very smart at thrift store shopping), if ever.
It’s not just “do a dance and put your body in lines/shapes that look good to the audience.” Oh no. It’s also: how much of your outfit are you taking off? How many ways are there to sexily take off a stocking? (a lot more than you’d think) How do you make this strip tease more tease than strip while also stripping?
And as a general guideline: the more you take off, the more tip money you make. But you also have to take your clothes off with style. And have an interesting routine (and song!) you do it to.
The people who are still putting in that work–huge hats off to them. They bust their asses off trying to put on awesome shows for the audience. There’s so many hours dedicated to practice time alone, not to mention song selection and figuring out if you’re trying to also make a statement about something while you do it, and outfit choice.
Personally, for me, in some ways doing it accomplished what I wanted it to. I do feel more confident in my body. But there’s also a few downsides (besides the hours!).
I felt it was pretty much like seeking (and receiving) external validation. There’s something intoxicating about other people finding you enticing enough to cheer for or tip. But it’s not really going to help if your own internal dialogue isn’t on board, too. Plus, what do you do once the act is over? I still had to go home with me.
Weirdly enough, quitting burlesque was way easier to do once I got out of a shit, toxic relationship. I still pole, but mostly for the athletic moves.
Anyway. I don’t regret the experience. I’d maybe consider doing it again, too. But it was hard, it was work. It was worth exploring it.
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