The London Winter might not inspire you to whip your kit off, but Brrrrlesque is sure to see temperatures rise. Inspired by the luscious likes of Betty Boop (the first ever Burlesque pin-up) and Dita von Teese, I recently attended ‘The Cheek of it‘ – a drop-in Burlesque class held at Pineapple Studios, Wednesdays at 7pm, £8 and £4 to use the studios as a guest.
There Zoe (below), aka Lady Cheek, takes a group of eager beginners through a brief history of burlesque, before revealing a few signal moves strung into a routine towards the end.The first step in understanding Burlesque is viewing it as a performance – an acting performance, that is, over a dancing performance. For it’s not really a dance at all – each ‘move’ can be interpreted how you wish and choreography is a mere suggestion of having some track of actions to last the duration of the song. Without a doubt, the magic of burlesque is in the cheek, the va-va-voom and the over exaggeration of ditsy. You need to let yourself go, adding a little bit of sexual-ooh to every move. Be it ‘lounging’, ‘bending over’ (think Legally Blonde’s ‘bend-and-snap’), and even simply walking. Each move is fluid, perky but most importantly, humourous. Seems an odd thing to combine, but humour is essential. Traditional burlesque was naughty in a way that made you giggle, but it was, above all else, a cheeky act.
My online Bible, Wikipedia, defines Burlesque as;
“a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects. The word derives from the Italian burlesco, which itself derives from the Italian burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery.”
Playing with the audience, winking, leg kicking, knicker showing. It’s all a flirt with a silly side. Never should you take burlesque seriously – if you are I think that falls under ‘stripping’. While you may end up in your undies (or less, but never nought), the act that gets you there is all about play. Slipping off a glove, running it around your body, flinging it into the audience. It’s all part of the show.
It’s not a strenuous class but its flush of femininity is an unexpected confidence boost in feeling sexy in your own skin. Grab a pair of not-ridiculous-but-help-you-feel-lady-like heels and give it a go.
Some other London spots, I’ve not tried, to give it a go:
- Burlesque Baby – 4 week beginner’s class – £80 Covent Garden and Angel
- City Academy – 8 weeks – £125 – Angel
- House of Burlesque – Body confidence course, 2hrs £150 WC1N
- Pole People – 1.5hr taster £9 Clapham / 2hr fan dancing class £18 – Shoreditch