Booty is in the eye of the beholder :: My first burlesque show

You’ve heard of bringing your sexy back but you’re not sure you ever had it? Or if you lost it, you’re not sure where to find it? Dorothy found hers with a burlesque troupe…

Lady Magnolia's Bevy of Beauties

Lady Magnolia’s Bevy of Beauties

The spotlights were up, the ‘Bump n Grind’ beat had started, and my 6-inch dancing heels were ready to shimmy my booty onto the stage.

It was my first burlesque show and the whole three minutes of my dance routine was a build-up to the final corset pop that would reveal the flower pasties covering my nipples on my otherwise naked breasts.

No big deal, right?

In case you don’t know, burlesque as we know it now is a highly stylized form of stripping, a kind of performance art that demands attention on the body.

I wanted to pout and wear pretty knickers. I wanted to emulate Dita von Teese and learn stripper moves. I wanted in.

Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in the spotlight. I was shaking it with five other women in front of an audience of about 150. Three months ago I would never have imagined myself anywhere but comfortably covered in clothes, cheering from the audience. But here I was: corseted, feather boa-ed and fishnetted to the hilt. And loving it.

How did that happen?

Well, I’d seen dancer Lady Magnolia perform with her Rouge Revue Burlesque Company a few times and I loved how fun it all looked ­– the outfits, the moves, the heels, the butts, the boobs. I wanted to pout and wear pretty knickers. I wanted to emulate Dita von Teese and learn stripper moves. I wanted in.

I signed up for Lady M’s classes sporting my ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ T-shirt and blowing kisses at the last vestiges of my inhibitions.

All I was expecting was to learn how to pull moves like a Vegas stripper. You know: How to take off my clothes pre-sexytime with all the seduction of Mata Hari, instead of rushing them off like a fumbling teenaged boy.

Six months later and I’m taking away a lot more from this burlesque experience than that. I’m starting to understand what ‘sexy’ actually is. I’m learning that ‘sexy’ really is an expression unique to each woman. And I’m learning that however ‘sexy’ ends up looking, it’s gotta start with two things: body acceptance and the confidence to assert this.

Dancing and burlesque – stepping into your ‘sexy’ – is about personal empowerment

For example, Lady M’s first instruction to us was to learn how to walk so that you fill a space; how to move your hips and look out, not down; how to stride, big and tall; how to walk in a way that says ‘I am here’. It’s practically counterintuitive to a society that teaches women to be quiet, small and demure. To be less than.

Mostly, she impressed on us that dancing and burlesque – that stepping into your ‘sexy’ – is about personal empowerment. There is no body shape or age that ‘can’t’ burlesque (yes I’m verbing a noun) or be sexy. Only personalities that seemingly can’t.

that's me in the background, laughing too hard and losing my shit and timing

that’s me in the background, laughing too hard and losing my shit and timing

On the night of the show, the dancers ranged in styling as widely as they did in age and body type. Each dancer had her personal brand of sensuality revealed in all shades of bold, coy and playful. Each dancer expressed her sexy with fishnets or feathers, kimonos or complete nudity.

And each audience member had their own favourite. There was no one particular kind of titillation that was the best, no one body type that was the most appealing. Booty really is in the eye of the beholder. But it all starts with taking ownership of your sexy and stepping into it.

I applaud women who go fearlessly into their sexy, who have the confidence and bravery to own their sensual and sexual identity.

You know, the other thing I want to mention is how wonderfully supportive the women in my burlesque troupe are. Dita von Teese has pointed out what I found to be true – burlesque is mostly for women, from the performance to the appreciation. In my experience, there is none of that catty competitiveness, the need to upstage or ‘be better than’ that women are often mocked for when it comes to how we look and behave.

And why should there be? Once you’ve accepted that each woman has her own unique flavour, her own interpretation of beauty and sensuality, you come to realise that there is no ‘better’, only ‘different’.

I applaud women who go fearlessly into their sexy, who have the confidence and bravery to own their sensual and sexual identity. Whether that means rocking out on the stage or just bringing your full phwoar to the bedroom. Though, trust me, a stage is a good, albeit frightening, place to start.

This column was first published on Women24…

If you’re keen to find out how to bring out your inner dancing queen, check out Lady Magnolia here [clickety click].

Also, check out Cherry Lesque and Pandora S Boxx, two of the beauties in my troupe who have their own burlesque pages. And I’d like to send a shout out to two of the Rouge Revue dancers (apart from Lady M herself) who really inspired me as an audience member to get all hot and bothered and take it all off: Penny Pinup and Jezzy Belle.

AND i defs have to mention that the professional pics on this page were from Ruby Red Door Photography.