Have you ever wondered, why do people take burlesque striptease dance classes? Considering my history with burlesque, that question did cross my mind when I bought a groupon for 3 burlesque classes. Whether you are considering taking a class yourself, are looking for a gift for someone else or just happened to be deep in some rabbit’s hole on google, here are a few reasons why people do take burlesque striptease dance classes.
Performers take Burlesque Striptease Dance Classes
As burlesque is a fine art form of entertainment, there is a demand for burlesque performers of all ages, sizes, races and backgrounds. Also, as there is no formal recognized school of burlesque, such as there are schools of theater, and as there is no industry wide accepted burlesque certification, many burlesque performers and artists take burlesque striptease dance classes from a wide variety of teachers at different studios, schools and more, to continue to train and improve as performers.
Fitness Enthusiasts take Burlesque Striptease Dance Classes
There are some people, like me, who like their fitness to have a bit of sass or adventure. So rather than going to the gym, I’d rather train for 2 Tough Mudders a year, take three different types of dance classes and 1 aerial class a week as my form of fitness. You know…. people who do yoga or pilates or spin or rock climbing, or Salsa Thursday or who are open to whatever the latest fitness craze is or upcoming trend will be…those people will take burlesque as a their form of fitness class because its fun, different and offered at their local studio.
Hobbyists take Burlesque Striptease Dance Classes
There are people who love burlesque as an industry. They like performing…but in student showcases or locally in their town. They don’t want to be a professional. They like their day job as an accountant or lawyer or marketing executive. They just like also having an interesting hobby. It makes their work-life balance all the more great. It adds a big of passion and play to their life. Its their little secret sometimes. It’s their pretend fall back plan or that interesting tidbit they have to share at a networking event. “Yeah, in my spare time I train as a burlesque dancer.” Those people take burlesque striptease dance class because its a fun hobby that keeps them active and engaged.
Lovers take Burlesque Striptease Dance Classes
Lovers take Burlesque Striptease Dance Classes too. They do it to spice up things. They do it as an fun gift for Valentine’s Day or Father’s Day or a Birthday. They do it because their anniversary is coming up and a private dance might be something their partner might like. So if they learn a routine, they can show it off later. Doing this makes them feel good and their partner is going to love it too.
Self-Carers take Burlesque Striptease Dance Classes
Some people take Burlesque Striptease Dance Classes because its part of their mind-body wellness practice. You know, their self-care ritual. For a designated time in a designated safe space, they have the freedom to explore any kind of expression, emotion, movement, or story, even if it manifest in sexual or erotic ways…or even if it doesn’t. Because Burlesque holds space for all of that. Having a sacred time set aside for self expression, allows for greater confidence and personal power. Wanna learn more about this reason? Check out, “Burlesque As a Mind Body Wellness Practice.”
Artists take Burlesque Striptease Dance Classes
Just as an artist would take a clown class, theater class, aerial yoga class, contact improv class and yoga class, it would only be natural to take a few burlesque striptease dance classes. Burlesque explores dance, acting, miming, comedy and striptease within one performance. Having a range of artistic training by exploring burlesque adds so much value to your personal development. Its important to indulge in the extravagant, dramatic and emotional range of your storytelling, striptease and subtext. Burlesque is a fine-art form. It demands nothing less.
Why do you take burlesque striptease dance classes? Or why are you going to take burlesque striptease dance classes? What are you hoping to experience?
There are certain things you won’t learn until you experience them, such as the burlesque tour bag. However, if by sharing a few stories, anecdotes, and tips, it makes your transition into or understanding of burlesque more seamless, then amen!
I’ve been performing as a pole dancer and striptease artist since 2010. Back then I called myself a Sensual Erotic Artist. What I didn’t know then was that there was a name for the blend of dancing and performing that I did and its called “Burlesque.” With that being said, I’ve performed locally in whatever city I’ve lived in for theatrical, public, private and charity events and I’ve toured for over a year with a production company that produced a burlesque variety show where we hit anywhere between 20 to 40 cities EVERY THREE MONTHS and I was one of two resident burlesque dancers aka a Headliner. Therefore, there are some things I’ve learned from being in the tour van, sharing hotel rooms or just trying to get to a gig in west bubble fuck, yonkers when I lived deep in Brooklyn off the L line and I need my burlesque bag. (Which I might as as a poler, is very different than my pole dancer bag.)
Also, be aware there are numerous links throughout this post. Not are affiliate links. Its just the stuff I use.
Here Is My Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist!
THE BURLESQUE LUGGAGE & BAG(S)
First, you want to invest in travel bags that work for your travel style, budget and space limitations/requirements. Sometimes I travel by plane, train, bus, tour van or by private driver. (I work with a security firm on all my gigs and my retainer includes a driver!) Considering the mode of travel and what you can handle on your own, first think about the luggage itself and whether its for traveling to local gigs or national & international gigs in other cities. My luggage has usually come from a few places… Amazon, Target, Overstock.com or as a Gift I was given or won. (I seriously won three travel bags within a year during some unrelated boudoir photography giveaways). At some point or another you’ll want the following in your arsenal.
Weekender Bag – I use a Wit&Delight Weekender.Apparently, they are no longer available. I would have gotten the other three pieces to this set, if I had paid attention that it was limited edition. My favorite thing about this is the bottom part which can hold a few pair of shoes and other items, including my thigh high boots for my “A Dominatrix Prepares” signature act. That way its kept separate from other delicate things.
Carry On Bag – I use the Wit&Delight CarryOn Bag for local gigs. When on tour, I need a slightly larger carryon so that my muggle life stuff can fit too. The wheels on the Wit&Delight bag are 360 and that makes a huge difference in travel ease. Whether you purchase a $10 bag or a $10,000 bag, ensure the wheels are 360. My bag for travel out of state comes via a brand called “Ventura” but I can’t find them anywhere online. Its not the motorcycle one that pops up in google search results. But its amazing and fits everything, though it is bulky.
Day Bag – Because my day bag doubles as a purse, as well as backpack essentials, my go-to has been my Kelly Moore camera bagsdue to the style and size. The right ones are designed to fit my laptop or tablet if I travel with them. Or my camera gear, if I travel with that as well. Or my reading books. Or my merch. Plus all of my purse essentials. If I pack it right, one regular quick outfit like a sundress or leggings and tshirt can fit in there too. Besides Kelly Moore, my favorite has been a large black DVF bag gifted to me. After five years of overpacking, a strap finally broke. I love the bag so much, I think I’ll send it in for repairs. Another brand I use isEpiphanie bagstoo.
Packing Cubes – Packing Cubes are a life saver. Trust me. It’s the next step up, after you’ve consistently overstuffed a gallon size ziplock bag. I’m able to keep each costume pieces in their own cubes and all of my muggle life clothing fits in its own packing cube. These help you stay organized and makes packing quicker.
Make Up Storage Bags – I was using all types of random little toiletry bags and ziplock bags until it was just way too much. I waited on a sale at Victoria Secret and invested in a decent set that now holds all of my makeup and other smaller toiletry or kit items.
Once you have your actual luggage and organizers in order, its going to make the rest of your travel life so much easier.
ONSTAGE – Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist
I quickly learned that when it came to performing, every act needed its own checklist for its full costume and performance. I keep the checklist online in a cloud, printed in its own packing cube and in my burlesque journal/planner. My checklist even has a tab for notes so that I can list any repairs or changes that need to be made. So, while every burlesque act and corresponding checklist will have its own individual items, in general, your ultimate burlesque tour bag travel checklist, should include the following, if applicable:
Each Costume for each act you’re performing
Extra set of Pasties
Extra set of Stockings, Tights, Thigh/Knee Highs
Costume Alternatives – There are some cities in which I can start almost as nude as I want, but I can’t physically remove any item of clothing. There are some cities where I can only strip down to a bra and not pasties. Depending on laws or self policing community behavior, I have to consider alternatives to each of my acts. So this usually means, an extra black and/or nude bra.
MY PERFORMANCE ESSENTIALS – Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist
The first few things on this list are things NOBODY told me about, but I learned quickly it made all the difference.
A Transition Dress – This is the dress you put on at the end of the night. Its after your performance and after any after-show things such as pictures, meet&greet and such. This is your transition dress from the burlesque world and back into the everyday real world. I use an oversized, maxi dress from Amazon. Its floor length so that whatever vehicle I’m getting in to go back to my hotel or home in, has a minimum amount of glitter transfer as possible. This transition dress is a part of my burlesque travel uniform, so instead of throwing on my day clothes from before my performance, I put the dress on. When I put my day clothes back on….eventually all of my regular clothes became covered in glitter. I love glitter but I didn’t want everything I owned covered in it. The transition dress also is oversized because its loose fitting and comfy. You’ve been glued and buckled in and tied in and laced up and made up and when its time to leave the venue…sometimes you need something extremely roomy and comfortable. It can still be stylish though. This is mine.
A Show Outfit – Depending on the event, production or show, there may be Meet&Greets or time during the Pre-show or the actual show when you’ll be in “the house.” “The house” being public areas where audience members may engage you. You’ll want to be dressed appropriately. Usually, it meant a cocktail dress, nightclub dress, or gown found on Amazon for me. Sometimes it wasn’t a dress. It might be a Halloween or character costume, or lingerie. This also works as an outfit for photographs, if you won’t be in your costume.
Flip Flops – You’ll need them backstage as you dress and undress. There are moments in between when your street shoes come off and your stage shoes come on, where there is nothing under your feet. During that time, you’ll wish you had flip flops.
A Robe – I recommend having a thick, velour one for comfort and a lacey pretty one for the glamour. Both of mine came from Charlotte Russe.
Baby Oil Gel – My partner put me on to this! I want to shine on stage and I need my glitter to stick and I’ve now found the perfect product for that that’s the right shine and thickness. My favorite scent is the lavender one. And often times its found in the baby aisle, versus the toiletry aisle.
Nude G-String – You just never know. (I’ll be doing a post later on my favorite nude brands, especially for women of color! I was determined to find my shade since I made it essential for one of my costumes.)
Sweat Pants – There’s a moment that happens when you arrive at the venue whether it be a theater, lounge, fetish event or concert hall. And you have time before your performance. Like time before the house even opens. Especially if its a production company and there are techs or rehearsal times. You’re not gonna want to be in those moments in jeans or a tight fitted skirt or your usualy everyday street clothes. Yoga pants might seem like the way to go, but sweatpants give you room to be comfortable. You could also have dance wear…because essentially this is what you wear during warm-up and stretching and tech, before a performance. So dancewear is an option. Or Leggings and leg warmers. I’ve just learned the simple and most comfortable solution are sweatpants. Sometimes I arrive in this or its in my bag to change into.
Plastic Sheets – This seems random. But you know the plastic sheets that cover your clothes when you pick them up from dry cleaning? I collect those. And I travel with about three of them at any given moment. Sometimes on the road or right before a show, I need to fix a costume, or add some gems to a prop or create something new while on the go. Because it involves glitter and glue and gems and little parts and can get messy, I find it easier to cover my surface with these plastic sheets. They also work for standing on when in dressing rooms and you don’t want to stand directly on the floor.
Wig Tape – I use these for making my pasties stick and its everything. I have yet to use them for my wigs but probably could stand to learn!
Fabric Tape – I also use these for making my pasties stick. This is heavy duty and not its intended use but it works. And sometimes the pain of removal is worth it. (I learned a year into ripping fabric tape off my areola, that coconut oil can help make it less painful.)
BACKSTAGE – Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist
Glitter Kit – I keep travel size portions of about ten shades of loose glitterin my tour bag. I bought it at Michaels. But I’m really a glitter whore so I travel with excessive amounts of glitter. Literally excessive amounts.
Makeup Kit – I’ll eventually share every individual item in my makeup kit in an easy list. However, the items will vary per performer. Mine include primer, foundation, powder, concealer, contour stuff, blush, eyeshadows, lipstick, eyeliner, eyebrow stuff, brushes, sponges and more.
Fake Lashes and Lash Glue – Trust me, you need them. I don’t have a preferred brand at the moment
Sewing Kit – I’ll eventually share everything in my kit. It includes needles, thread, safety pins, pins, and fasteners.
Crafting Kit – This kit includes at least three brand of glues, a pair of all-purpose scissors, a hot glue gun, a small bottle of Mod Podge, Velcro circle stickers and a few other things I usually need in conjunction with my Sewing Kit to create or fix each costume and props.
First Aid Kit – A travel size one will due. Add medicine like Tylenol or something, if it doesn’t have it.
Costume Kit – I keep small packs of gems, fringe, fabric or anything I need for each costume in their own little containers. What happens if a bunch of stones pop off or I rip something or need to create a whole new pair of pasties minutes before I go on?
Toiletry Kit – I keep makeup remover wipes, tampons, a menstrual cup, tide stick, febreeze spray, mouthwash, peppermints, hand wipes & sanitizer, performance perfume, deodorant, bobby pins, hair ties, baby wipes, extra contacts, hair spray, wig spray and more.
Marketing Paraphanilia – Depending on the show or the day I keep business cards, postcards, or merchandise in my tour bag.
Burlesque Journal/Planner – Because ideas strike at any time or I need to write notes down or I never know who I’m going to meet on the road and what I need to plan for.
(Hot/Cold) Water bottle
Your Favorite Flavor Tea Bag – Teais good for your health. Its good for wellness. And I use it as part of my mindful self-care rituals when on the road. So ensuring I consistently have the one I prefer matters versus just buying tea at any store on any given day.
Snacks – A granola bag, gum and a piece of fruit, at the least. I usually always have candy, sunflower seeds, caramel, and a small salad.
Hot Sauce – Don’t leave shit up to chance and have the wrong brand.
Leisure Reading Book – Because sometimes you have some time and you don’t want to listen to another trap song on Spotify.
OFFSTAGE – Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist
Regular Muggle Clothes – developing a travel uniform made my life so much easier. More on that later.
Swimsuit – A lot of hotels have pools or depending on the city, someone from the show knows someone who has the best hot tub in town.
Earplugs – At any time, you may want to drown people out. Sometimes in the tour van or sometimes backstage when there’s so much noise, I just wanted as much silence as possible. Earplugs helped with that.
Headphones – Sometimes, the best thing to do was to put my headphones in, turn a playlist on and get in my zone.
Eye Mask – Because someone will have a light on that you wish was off, sun included.
EXTRA – Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist
If the venue, show, event or situation allows for it and my performance requires it, I also travel with the following:
Tricked Out Chair – Some of my routines use chairs. It became easier for me to have consistency and travel with my own chair. Plus it meant I could trick it out.
Fog Machine – Scenography is important but unless its an established burlesque show with a full production team, there isn’t much of a set. And if you’re touring as a solo performer or within a guerilla-style traveling production company, you can’t really travel with set pieces and large props. One way to dynamically add drama and texture to your performances is via a fog machine.
Stage Lights – Most often I’m performing for a show at theaters or concert venues. However, sometimes I’m commissioned for private events that are taking place at venues not normally suited for performance. On the rare occasion that happens, I have a few stage lights that I bring. Production quality matters!
HONORABLE MENTIONS – Ultimate Burlesque Tour Bag Travel Checklist
I created my list from my own experiences and as I’m unpacking from two recent performances and getting ready to pack for another. Next, I googled around to see what others were saying. If a site/article is listed below its because they had a few things on their list that I forgot about or hadn’t thought of before.
Backup of Music via Burlesque Essentialsby Miss Charlotte Cake – OMG. Yes. Have it in different formats too!
Packing It Up Burlesque via Cake and Hot Tease. This list included the reasons for why items were packed and how they were packed.
Coat. Compact Umbrella. Flats. Sunblock and Medicine Kit. Those are obvious things that I either forgot to list or never even thought to include. That and more can be found in this lovely interview from Traveling Tips with Evie Lovelle by the Hollywood Burlesque Festival.
Sexy Lingerie for photoshoots or …you know. Also, Multiway Plug via Ten Things to Take On a Burlesque World Tour. Gotta think international. Plus, I did know one burlesque dancer who had pre-scheduled a photoshoot in almost every city we were on during the tour. I wish I had had the forethought to do that. Oh well.
Mirror via Burlesque Suitcase Packing Checklistby Tigz Rice. There’s some other goodies on her list too. But geez, a mirror matters. I have a travel size one for out of state gigs. And if it’s within my state and I have a driver via my security firm and the venue isn’t a regular performance venue…I definitely travel with a $5 full-length mirror from Wal-mart. (Again this is the rare gig type. At the very least when hired to perform, it should be at a professional venue that has appropriate dressing rooms. That’s just a basic given. But…..but sometimes you get commissioned for a themed party and they are paying you the right number and the venue is some random lounge but you get to do things your way….so you take the gig and there isn’t a regular dressing room. In those cases, I bring a full-length mirror. Was that TMI?)
Everyone has the story of what led them to burlesque and right now, it’s my turn to share my burlesque history. Depending on what context in which you know me, it more than likely turned into quite a surprise but not a shock when “out of nowhere,” I was touring full-time as a resident burlesque dancer for a pop erotica variety show.
The first thing to know is that I’ve always been a dancer. Though not a classically trained ballerina, I have been in dance classes all of my life. Dance as a form of expression and connection has also been a part of my family and communities growing up. Also, I was raised very religiously and yes, I was on the praise dance team. I used to dance specifically for Jesus. Throughout my childhood and well into my life now, I’ve always been known for my intensity and presence when on stage. Burlesque involves dance and movement and I think it matters to know that movement and dance has always been a part of my life, even if it wasn’t formal.
Another note about my childhood specifically is that I was hung up on epic, dramatic stories with my barbies. I didn’t just “play” barbies. I held extravaganzas and travesties that would last days upon days or involve five other girls during my infamous sleepovers. These dramatic episodes would take place all over whatever apartment or house we lived in. Telling stories as dramatically as possible has always intrigued me. Especially when you could dress the doll up, change her hair and change her name or story…depending on the day.
This “ridiculous” way of playing barbie translated into a natural love of theater, which I formally studied in college and immediately began a professional career in as a stage manager spanning over 13 years. While I mostly focus on stage management, I have experience in acting, writing, box office management, and directing too. I LOVED the theater. I still do to this day. I’m naturally an artist, performer, creative and entertainer and I found the entire world of producing theater filled my gigantic mind and dramatic storytelling desires. I had the opportunity to study theater in Berlin, Paris, and London and the entire experience of my life in theater has been completely fulfilling. I’m grateful for always having outlets to express my imagination in any way possible.
During college, it’s also important to note that somehow I was naturally pegged as a flirt. This seems par for the course for someone who is a burlesque performer and instructor, however, I still considered myself deeply religious. Therefore, I saw it as an insult and called home crying. In less than a year, I welcomed the word. There was something natural about my energy and my ways that lent itself to being the biggest flirt on campus. And by flirt, I mean that I oozed in the juices of my own yum. I knew how amazing it felt to be alive reeling in my passions and I let that spill onto anyone within 100 feet of me. I didn’t want anything from anyone. I had nothing to give anyone. I just enjoyed my own presence so much in such a charismatic way, that others were drawn to it and started asking me to teach them how to live embodied as a Flirt.
This meant that I started teaching friends and actresses how to walk and especially how to walk in heels. I would give these quick private lessons and literally the next day, I always received a message or saw it happen live where someone would compliment them on their walk. I would give casual posing lessons. For the everyday person, it meant I was giving body language tools and techniques and for a dancer or actor, I was giving power posing lessons. (If it helps to know, I was also a competitive cheerleader and on the dance “pom pom” teams during college too.)
After college, all I did was club like my life depended on it. (I didn’t during college because it was forbidden and I was underage.) However, after college, I worked in the hospitality industry and therefore, we were encouraged to be active in the “lifestyle.” Basically be enough of a party girl, that you influence others to party at specific places. It wasn’t a formal thing. I was a training manager in the corporate sense. But we got kickbacks and VIP treatment for partying at establishments and sending people to them. (This is long before being a social media lifestyle influencer was a thing.) So from 11pm until 7am on MOST NIGHTS OF THE WEEK, I partied from one club to another just dancing. On a good night, I never had a single drink. But you couldn’t rip me off the dance floor. Whether I danced by myself, with my best friend, with my colleagues or a new fling, there was something about being big and sexy and subtle on the dance floor. Sometimes I’d pick a victim and give him a lap dance that snatched his soul. Then right when he’d probably want to sweep me off my feet and give me an epic kiss….I’d walk away. I wouldn’t give my name, my number…nothing. I danced them into submission and carnal desire…and then I walked away. (I was such a budding burlesque dancer, can’t you tell?)
This love of dancing at the clubs meant that whenever I visited NY, as I hail from the Windy City, I would go clubbing with my friends. I remember one night dressing in my cutest outfit and we were at some hip club but people were too cool to dance. With my love of dance and my Brazilian Bombshell close friend with me, we were not having it. We started dancing up a storm as if it were our last day on earth. When we finally took a break to catch our breath, a man came over introducing himself as the manager of the club. He said that our exuberance in dance brought the energy of the club up. He requested that we continue dancing, even suggesting we dance on the platforms they had that elevated us above the crowd. He moved us to VIP, took care of us the rest of the night and even when a strap on my shirt broke, his waitresses ushered me into the back and someone sewed me up and had me back out within 5 minutes.
That night I decided, “I want to be a go-go dancer.” What did that mean to me? That there would be lounges and clubs that would pay me to dance however I wanted to dance which was a bit dramatic, sexy, bold, flirtatious and very moody but extremely erotic. (Please note that’s not quite the definition of a go-go dancer. That’s just the definition of what I wanted to do.)
So what did I do? I moved to NY and …. worked on Wall Street. Making a shit ton of money that I’ll never see again in quite the same way. And my creative life and my body were so unfulfilled. My bank account and my intellect and health benefits were awesome. But creatively, sensually and emotionally, I felt stifled.
Since I changed jobs and was no longer working in hospitality, it also didn’t work to go clubbing every night and early morning. What I didn’t realize was that clubbing that often and for that long, had organically worked as my form of fitness. I literally twerked on and off for 5+ hours almost every night of the week. Since I knew I wasn’t going to go to the gym, I started taking dance classes as my form of fitness. If I wasn’t dancing at a club, I might as well dance in a fun fitness class.
Thus began an exploration in every movement offering I could find from Afro-Caribbean dance class to Haitian dance class to any kind of Pole Dance class to Core Barre dance fitness class and more. As soon as I started taking dance classes, especially the pole dance ones, I wanted to perform. I needed to be on stage. I wanted to command everyone’s attention. I wanted to control the energy. But in 2010, there were barely any performance opportunities for a “non-professional” sensual and dramatic dancer, that I knew of in the pole community. And I couldn’t figure out how to be a go-go dancer at clubs. And I didn’t know what to google to figure out how to be a stripper. (I hadn’t even considered if I’d lose my Wall Street job if I became a stripper.) All I knew was I wanted to be sensual, sexy, erotic, dramatic and emotional on stage in front of people. And by people, I meant ALL people. As I took more and more pole dance and sensual movement classes, so many spaces were devoted just to women. While I understood it, I wanted to be on stage and in rooms filled with every gender while I danced. As deep as I went into the pole community, four or five years later around 2015, I hit a wall with my desires. Seeing the divide of “sporty pole” versus “sexy pole.” or “women-only” versus “everyone is welcomed” or “exotic striptease” versus “we don’t do heel and stripping isn’t allowed and make sure your entire ass is covered by fabric.” …All of that was just eating away at me.
Its also important to note that somewhere in 2010 or 2011, I took my first “formal” burlesque class. There was a Groupon for it. I don’t remember what teacher or burlesque school offered it. I know it wasn’t Jo Whedon. It was through somebody else and what I now know is they were doing “Cheesecake Burlesque.” I didn’t know it at the time. I just saw a dance class and bought a ticket. And upon seeing the word “burlesque,” I had no idea what to expect. I always knew there were sexy girls who were, “go-go dancers.” And I knew there were ones who were very glitzy. I had seen Moulin Rouge and I considered her a high-class go-go girl. I didn’t realize that could be called “Burlesque.” Or Chicago, the movie or Cabaret, the movie. I thought all those were different types of jazz, modern, hip-hop and any other genre of dance made a bit sexier for pop culture and fell under “go-go dancers.” So taking a “cheesecake burlesque” class, I thought that was all burlesque was. These “wannabe pinup girls” who couldn’t get over the fact that we weren’t stuck in the 1950’s anymore. And their routines were all the same. “Walk, walk, pose, pose, pose. Remove glove. Remove glove. Bump-N-Grind. Now shimmy. And smile.” So I took that one class and never took another. Fuck that seemingly fake shit and dated shit and a nostalgia for a time when more than likely I’d be hung by the noose.
So back to pole. It’s 2015. I’ve now made a name for myself in pole dance. I’m performing all over the place. And I realize a lot of my performances barely involve the pole. I was what was then considered a “Floor Fucker.” Now they call it “Exotic Pole” and “Low Flow.” That’s nice for PR. I prefer “Floor Fucker.” In addition to being a “Floor Fucker,” I was an attention whoere. I saw so many women only wanted to dance in dimly lit rooms and in the corners…during freestyle portions of my sensual movement class. Me, I wanted all eyes on me and if you needed to turn the lights on brighter to see my ass, do so! I wanted a good shot from the photographer. I told you, I was dramatic and I’m a child of the theater.
The more I danced, the more others asked me to teach them my ways again. It reminded me of college when I was asked to teach mostly women, how to flirt in their walks and body language. And so I started hosting, producing and leading retreats and workshops all over the US and there was usually a dance element. I’d lead these sensual erotic movement classes that were co-ed utilizing everything I knew from theater, dance, movement, rituals, woo-woo and always tied it to archetypes, emotions, and values. And if I wasn’t leading a dance class, I was hosting groups at studios I loved that allowed for erotic exploration, welcomed all genders and had a portion where movement happened within community so everyone could bear witness.
And then, I got asked to dance by a producer who said their event didn’t have a pole, even though I was a pole dancer. I told the producer it would be ok because my home pole studio taught us the art of the striptease, as well as pole dance. They taught us how to floorwork, chair dance, give lap dances, strip out of anything, wall dance, use anything as a prop and dance to any song…all the while freestyling in a sensual if not erotic way. So, it didn’t matter that they had a last minute gig and needed a dancer and there was no pole, I could make it work.
I guess I must have did my thing because less than a year later, I was invited to join the production company as a resident burlesque dancer touring full time to 20 to 40 cities every three months with audiences in one night ranging from 100 to 1600 people, dancing at venues like Howard Theater, House of Blues New Orleans and the now-gone Santos Party House.
There was a way that the host always introduced dancers and when it came to me, for the first few months, I told them not to call me a burlesque dancer. I never minded when someone ignorantly called me a stripper. I corrected the mixup but didn’t mind it. I had a special affection for go-go dancers, especially the more dramatic ones like Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge. I was okay with terms like sensual, sexual and erotic. But hold the fucking phone, I was not a damn burlesque dancer. My ONLY understanding of that word was from that one “Cheesecake Burlesque” class I had which was Kitschy meets PinUp meets Way To Cheeky For Me. I was not a fucking BURLESQUE DANCER.
The production company paid me no mind and whatever term I gave them, they read the script appropriately…until one day, I told them they could start calling me a “burlesque dancer.” I’m a curious person. And I’m self-aware to know that often when I reject something with so much emotion and no substance of deep understanding, there is probably something there to explore. That lead to me researching what burlesque was. And that led me to recognize my own ignorance.
Now, …HA, it seems like my entire life has come full circle and the point of it all was for me to be a burlesque dancer. I was quite literally born for BURLESQUE. And I don’t even care about the genre. Now I could authentically and soulfully rock a Nerdlesque number or a Cheesecake number. Education and openness do wonders for liberation and freedom.
So there you have it, my history…or path to Burlesque. Which really was getting over semantics and finally seeing myself for whom I’ve always been.
If you combine Theater with Dance, you get Burlesque. That is so me. That also makes me think…
If you combine Theater with Singing, you get Opera or Pop Stars.
If you combine Theater with Acrobatics, you get Circus or Aerial Arts.
Theater of the Spectacle and Theater & Culture <– two genres of theater that move me, speak to the original Burlesque Travesty and Extravaganza.
Throw in vaudeville, circus, aerial arts, variety shows, and speakeasies and I’m wet with images of Femme Fatales, Flappers, Rebels and the general public’s desire to see and experience everyday gritty art.
I feel like strippers, pole dancers and drag queens really all were inspired and influenced by traditional burlesque.
Literally, as Theater became mainstream years ago, especially as a form of entertainment…especially for the high brow, what came were the rebels… Burlesque.
None of this is here to explain what Burlesque is. Its to give you the path I took to Burlesque. In becoming a Burlesque Teacher, I had to decide what my school of thought was with burlesque as an industry and genre of movement and study. I had to decide what my own personal philosophy was, what my blinders were and more. And in order to do that, you must always be aware of the path that brought you to where you are.
What To Wear To A Burlesque Striptease Dance Class
If you’re anything like me, you like to be prepared and unless you’re already deep inside the burlesque culture and industry, you may not know what to wear to your very first burlesque striptease dance class. Have no fear! I’ve got you covered. If anything I suggest isn’t already in your closet, most items can be found on Amazon, at the very least. With prime 2-day shipping, you should be all set long before your next burlesque dance class.
The first thing to note is that burlesque has many genres. It’s helpful to know the genre your class is in, as this determines the type of movement and style you will experience. If you’ve signed up for a “Cheesecake Burlesque” class, suitable clothing might be different than if you’ve signed up for “Neo-Burlesque” or “Nerdlesque” or “Showgirl Burlesque” or “Polesque.” I have a few more genres that I throw in there such as “Speakeasy Burlesque” or “Trumplesque.” The latter being how I define Modern Political Burlesque. So, be sure to inquire about the genre your burlesque dance class will be taught in. This may help narrow the selection of what to wear.
I love teaching a combination of “Traditional Burlesque”…like truly traditional. Like back when it was an extravaganza/travesty and took the form of musical theatre parody. Plus a bit of “Showgirl Burlesque” because I fucking love glamour and glitz and a dramatic Femme Fatale. And a smidge of “New Burlesque.” I call this combo “Speakeasy Burlesque.” Let me set the scene.
A Speakeasy is an illicit establishment. I like the word ILLICIT. Burlesque is a literary or dramatic work. It seeks to ridicule by means of grotesque exaggeration or comic imitation of the dignified.
Therefore SpeakEasy Burlesque is a mysterious and forbidden order of society for wicked and wayward souls. For 90 minutes we explore power, pleasure and play through sensual movement and erotic expression. With that in mind, what comes to mind when you think of how you’ll adorn your body? Below are some suggestions.
Shay Au Lait’s List of What To Wear To A Burlesque Striptease Dance Class
First, ONLY wear what makes you feel comfortable.
If you’re not into heels, don’t bring them. If corsets feel like a puzzle, fuck them. Wear what you’re comfortable moving your body in. (If you don’t know what you’re comfortable in yet, that’s ok. We’ll figure that out in class. I have lots of exercises and activities and prompts.)
Wear what makes you feel good.
It’s one thing to wear what makes you feel comfortable. It’s a whole other level to also wear what makes you feel good. What in your wardrobe makes you ooze? What makes you feel delicious and turned on? What makes you arch a bit? These answers are different for every person. It might be a specific color, a specific texture/fabric or a type of item.
Bring lots of layers.
I’m all for several outfit changes within a single class. My mood changes too much and I like my options. So bring options for yourself. Go all out. It only takes a few seconds to swap out one shirt for another, if the wind blows a different direction mid-class. Also burlesque is mostly about the striptease. In each class with me, at some point you’ll take something off. It could be a glove, a shoe, a shirt, a leg warmer or anything. You might take out your hairpin. So the best thing is to bring layers to play.
Bring the “SpeakEasy Burlesque” wardrobe staples
Bra – You can wear a sports bra, a lingerie bra, a bedazzled bra or any type of bra you like. No. Wear a bra you LOVE!
Panties – Whether we ever strip down to panties or not, wear the panties that make you do a hip circle.
Booty Shorts – These could be yoga shorts, frilly shorts, sequin shorts, tuille shorts, high waisted shorts or whatever you want.
Leggings or Yoga Pants
Tights – (my personal favorites are suspender tights or extra wide fishnets)
Knee High Tights
Tshirt, Tank Top, Button Down
Corset – (front or back fastening)
Shoes – Wear shoes that you can dance in. Start with kitten heels, if you’re not used to heels.
Accessories and Layers that are fun to play with or make things easier
Leg Warmers or Knee High Socks
Wig – Because WHY NOT? 99% of the time, I wear a wig to class, just for fun.
Bring the “SpeakEasy Burlesque” additional staples
A journal – (my classes are interactive and immersive. Activities, including writing prompts, will be provided and workshopped during class.)
A bottle of water
A face towel, if you tend to sweat or glisten
Wipes, for your feet
Honorable Mentions of What To Wear To A Burlesque Striptease Dance Class
Elbow length satin gloves
Hat or Headpiece
A shimmy belt
A panel skirt
It’s time to pack your bag!
You may be attending a burlesque class for any number of reasons. Perhaps you simply want a sweet taste of burlesque. Perhaps you’re training as a performer. Or maybe you just want a flirty fitness experience. In either case, make it fun. Play dress up and enjoy clothes that help you find the extravagant, dramatic and emotional range of your storytelling, striptease and subtext in movement.
What else would you add to my list? What do you wear to your burlesque striptease classes?
I also have several Pinterest boards that might serve as inspiration and suggestions on what to wear and bring to class. Follow below:
This board is more for Burlesque Costume Inspiration for Live Performances and whatnot. However, many, if not all of this, can also be worn in class. If you’re feeling froggy, do it. Come in full regalia.
What is Burlesque? That is the question. In one succinct blog post using my experience, research and tons of links, I’m going to try to answer that question as simple as possible for those looking for a quick answer, and as thoughtfully as possible, for those seeking a more in-depth answer.
Asking “what is burlesque?” is just like asking “what is theater?” Burlesque is a genre of art and entertainment. I want to explore the concept of theater first, so you can truly understand the scope of burlesque beyond “a woman doing a striptease.” According to Wikipedia, “Theater is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage.” Fine art, according to Wikipedia, “is art developed primarily for aesthetics or beauty, distinguishing it from applied art, which also has to serve some practical function, such as pottery or most metal work.”
That means to say that theater exists for beauty and pleasure. While it can have social context and change the world, its a fine art in that it acknowledges some things exist for the joy of its beauty and the sensation of its pleasure.
Let’s look at more of the definition of theater. “The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music, and dance. Elements of art, such as painted scenery and stagecraft such as lighting are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience. The specific place of the performance is also named by the word “theatre.”
So that’s “theater,” whether it be Broadway, Shakespeare or puppet theater.
So what is burlesque? We can exploreWikipediasome more! Burlesque “is 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.” Burlesque is a parody of theater. At least its origins. We haven’t gotten into what is Neo-Burlesque as a dance genre. I’m simply exploring the original definition of this art form. And by definition, its burlesque is a parody of theater, or just a parody of serious art and culture.
That’s burlesque by its most basic and history definition.
A grotesque imitation of the dignified or pathetic or serious and comic elements were juxtaposed or combined to achieve a grotesque effect.
“Victorian burlesque, sometimes known as “travesty” or “extravaganza“, was popular in London theatres between the 1830s and the 1890s. It took the form of musical theatre parody in which a well-known opera, play or ballet was adapted into a broad comic play, usually a musical play, often risqué in style, mocking the theatrical and musical conventions and styles of the original work. The comedy often stemmed from the incongruity and absurdity of the classical subjects, with realistic historical dress and settings, being juxtaposed with the modern activities portrayed by the actors.” This is why you see the costume silhouettes within burlesque, they were traditional to their specific era in time. They wore the dress of who they were mocking.
“American burlesque shows were originally an offshoot of Victorian burlesque. The English genre had been successfully staged in New York from the 1840s, and it was popularised by a visiting British burlesque troupe, Lydia Thompson and the “British Blondes”, beginning in 1868. New York burlesque shows soon incorporated elements and the structure of the popular minstrel shows. They consisted of three parts: first, songs and ribald comic sketches by low comedians; second, assorted olios and male acts, such as acrobats, magicians and solo singers; and third, chorus numbers and sometimes a burlesque in the English style on politics or a current play. The entertainment was usually concluded by an exotic dancer or a wrestling or boxing match. By the 1880s, the four distinguishing characteristics of American burlesque had evolved: 1. Minimal costuming, often focusing on the female form. 2. Sexually suggestive dialogue, dance, plotlines and staging. 3. Quick-witted humor laced with puns, but lacking complexity. 4. Short routines or sketches with minimal plot cohesion across a show.”
Knowing its historical definition and bringing it into modern day context, Burlesque is extreme parody, emotional storytelling and extravagant striptease. Its theatrical (dramatic), political and entertaining. Its naughty and taboo. Its fun and humorous too. Also within Burlesque, there are genres from Classic Burlesque to Nerdlesque to Cheesecake or Neo-Burlesque.
As Burlesque is a form of entertainment, just like Theater, that means people (the audience) go to see it. Thus “Burlesque Shows.” People go to see Burlesque Shows. In the US, as far as I know, Burlesque Shows have manifested in a few ways…
Variety Show – a curated night of entertainment featuring all sorts of art forms including poets, singers, comedians, musicians, aerial artists, burlesque dancers and a host.
Curated Burlesque Show – a curated night of entertainment featuring individual burlesque dancers/acts and a host.
Theatrical Burlesque Show – a theatrically produced night of entertainment featuring burlesque dancers such as House of Perle.
In order for people to experience Burlesque Shows in any genre, covering any theme, that means there need to be Burlesque Performers. Thus the need for Burlesque Dancers, Burlesque Schools, Burlesque Classes and Burlesque Dance Troupes. As the genre gained popularity, those classes were also being taken by the general public as a form of fitness, nostalgia or new fun hobby. And as the industry continued to grow, Burlesque has its own conferences, competitions and more.