Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Meaning of Burlesque

It seems that whenever I tell anyone I'm going to a burlesque show, they have one of two reactions.

A. They think its great and want to come too.

B. They turn their noses up in disgust at the though of going to a "glorified strip show."

I'm not sure why burlesque divides opinions so much. I don't think it's, the nudity, nipples are everywhere these days but it got me thinking so I decided to dig out this old blog post of mine that I wrote in 2010 about the meaning of Burlesque.

The Meaning Of Burlesque

First Published 21 October 2010 here

"Since Marilyn Manson first introduced the world to Heather Renee Sweet (or Dita Von Teese as you and I know her) back in 2001, we've all gone mad for Swarovski crystals, vintage fashion and nipple pasties. The word "Burlesque" was thrown into the public eye and every woman (and man) on the planet wanted a piece of it. But what exactly is Burlesque and why is the world so obsessed with it?

While some see burlesque performers as a glorified string-fellows strippers, I am here to tell you that Burlesque is a whole lot more. If you take away the props, music and amazing costumes and delve into the history of burlesque you start to get a feel for where and how this art form first started. Wikipedia sites that "Burlesque, also known as travesty, is a genre of entertainment. Before burlesque became associated with striptease, it was a form of musical and theatrical parody in which an opera or piece of classical theatre is adapted in a broad, often risqué style very different from that for which it was originally known."

New burlesque as we now know it, saw it's revival in the early 1990s and has gone from strength to strength with mega-stars such as Dita and Catherine D'Lish. It's also a lot more available to us know than it was back then with Burlesque clubs and nights popping up in venues all over the country. Burlesque isn't just about taking your clothes off and flashing your swarovski encrusted boobs, it's about so much more than that. To me, burlesque is about empowerment, solidarity and support of women everywhere (excuse me while I put my feminist pillbox hat on for a minute). I challenge anyone to go to a Burlesque show and not come out of it feeling empowered or inspired in some way, shape or form. If you're lucky enough to have been to a burlesque show, I'm sure you would have noticed the comradery between the women. Everyone is there to help and support each other (sometimes literally when you're stepping into a corset) and I can honestly say that it's one of the best things I've seen in a long time. No one is there to judge anyone else or compare thigh sizes, the Burlesque scene isn't about that at all.

It's about sticking two perfectly half moon manicured fingers up to the modern fashion industry and taking the ideas from the 1950s and turning them on their head. It's about saying big is beautiful, small is beautiful, any shape or size, skin colour, scar, stretch or mark and wonky boob, they are all beautiful and I'm going to shove them in your face and make you choke on your Martini olive until you see that too."

What does Burlesque mean to you? Write to me in the comments and let me know.

Hayley x


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