Burlesque – yet another love of mine

22 Feb

A couple of years ago, motivated by my interest in corsets and glamour and girliness and my curiosity about dancing, and encouraged by the irrepressible MrsC and her desire to vicariously live out her own frilly knicker desires, I signed up to a burlesque class run by the fabulous Busty La Belle.

Miss La Belle

Miss La Belle’s House of Burlesque

I instantly had the biggest girl crush on Busty La Belle (now mostly known as Miss La Belle due to Facebook’s refusal to allow her to have Busty as a name). She was playful and funny and confident and her eyes sparkled and she was only not smiling when she was laughing and she laughs a lot, an infectious laugh that makes the world better. I instantly decided I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.

I enjoyed her classes so much. Her 6-week level 1 class, which focuses mainly on posing and strutting and looking confident, with some glove removal and a little bit of extra in the last week for those who want, was So Much Fun I did it three times in a row. Then she released a level 2 class, which included stocking and robe peels, small props like fans and boas, and bra peels. I did that and loved it too. Then she hosted a tassel twirling class, and yep, much to my own shock, I did that too! Then we were asked if we wanted to perform on stage and I said no. About half of my class went of to take the stage in Miss La Belle’s first graduation show, Frolic Lounge, and one or two have since gone on to be local starlets.

I didn’t perform because I didn’t start burlesque out of an unfulfilled desire for fame and stage time, but a desire to play with pretty things, but also to do something different and challenge myself.

And I did all of those things, and loved it. I discovered a whole new approach to body positivity that I could rave about for hours (and might in its own post one day when I’m feeling particularly in the mood for a feminist rant on society and beauty), thoroughly improved my relationship with my own body image, and improved my somewhat lacklustre social confidence. I discovered an entire community of lovely women and made a couple of great friends. I discovered these things called vintage and pin-up and rockabilly and realised they were the words to capture things that I already loved but didn’t know about. I took on my lifelong terror of photos by booking in for a pin-up photo shoot. I discovered a new love of burlesque and go to as many shows as I can afford, and enjoy them immensely.

One of my favourite shots from my fear-busting photo shoot

One of my favourite shots from my fear-busting photo shoot

Busty La Belle remains my favourite performer because she is beautiful and confident and witty and captivating. I was very very lucky that over time the woman behind Miss La Belle became a very special, very dear friend. She truly is a remarkable woman and being around her still makes me want to be her when I grow up. As I can’t be her when I grow up (grumble), I’m thinking about how I can learn from the things I love about her and apply that to myself. She makes me want to be a better person. She makes me want to be playful and open minded and confident and strong and happy and do it in red lipstick and curls. I’m not sure I’ll ever attain her stellar levels of confidence (of her mastery of faking it, whichever) but she gives me something to aspire to.

Miss La Belle, naturally beautiful and glamourous

Miss La Belle, naturally beautiful and glamourous

This year, I decided to relive the glory one more time and am repeating level 1 and level 2 simultaneously. And it is still So Much Fun! I still feel like a graceless duckling standing in adoration of Miss La Belle’s swanlike glory, but every time I go there I laugh, non stop, for an hour, listening to her hilarity and watching her amazingly expressive face run the gamut of every type of happiness, cheekiness, sauciness, and delight known to humankind. And who knows. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll decide to perform on stage, just once, just for the hell of it. Once you’ve taken your clothes off in public, surely other life challenge’s get easier!

If I do, you can be sure all the costuming details will go here! It’s amazing what you can make with a cheap bra, a glue gun, and a metric crap tonne of sequinned trim.

And in the meantime… I need a burlesque name! I’m open to suggestions!

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12 Responses to “Burlesque – yet another love of mine”

  1. Jo February 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Holy Mackerel you look amazing in that photo! I have never been into burlesque (I’m a very shy, non-tassel-twirling kind of girl), but I can see the appeal. That’s so cool that you got so much confidence out of it! Why not use your online name Miss Joie de Vivre….or is that not saucy enough? 🙂

    • missjoiedevivre February 25, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

      I thought of Miss Joie de Vivre but it got a mixed reception from the crowd, not everyone gets the French reference I guess? I’ll think about it again though! And you could consider trying the classes – even for shy, non tassel twirling girls there is a lot of fun to be had and no one gets pushed further than they are comfortable 🙂

  2. kaitui_kiwi February 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    Va va voom Joy! Wow, I hardly recognised you, you look amazing.

    I went to a show in Perth on our last night that was called the Big Top Tease. It was the local Circus Joseph Ashton sharing their tents with the Perth Sugar Blue Burlesque girls, it was great. I didn’t know what to expect, I though I’d get all embarrassed and giggly but the ladies on stage were so confidant and looked like they were having so much fun I enjoyed going so much.

    Surely your burlesque name has to feature the word Joyous in there somewhere…

    • missjoiedevivre February 25, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! The shows are so much fun. You could consider the classes yourself! Miss La Belle is just amazing and it is fun even if you never dream of going on stage 🙂

  3. Juliet February 23, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    You know what, that kinda sounds like fun!

    • missjoiedevivre February 25, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      Oh it is!!! I wish I could say you should try the classes but I guess its a bit of a hike for you:) But if you want I can get a recommendation for something local 🙂

  4. Tanit-Isis February 25, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    That sounds awesome! I think I felt something similar about my first bellydance classes. 🙂

    • missjoiedevivre February 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

      I actually did a year of bellydancing after my first crack at burlesque classess, because I wanted something to help me with coordinating feet and hands, and I really miss it. But I only have so much time and when I started rock and roll, my biggest dance love of them all, I eventually had to give up bellydancing so that I was actually at home occasionally. But it’s only temporary, I will do it again one day! It is super fun too 🙂 You always look amazing in your dance outfits.

  5. Teresa Buckthought March 2, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    Such a lovely post! I’ve a friend that does burlesque and I’ve been to a couple of her shows and she is amazing. I would love to do one of Miss La Belle’s level one courses some time.Let me know if you plan on doing it again 😀 Although I have horrible co-ordination!!

    • missjoiedevivre March 3, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

      You don’t need coordination or confidence or dance skills or anything at all to do the classes, I recommend you try it out!

  6. macstabby March 4, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    ZOMG, you look CRAMAZING. I’ve never been to a burlesque show, but have watched a few documentaries, and I LURVE the styling. You’re so brave! I’d do it if I had the kahones. 🙂
    Just wanted to let you know that I’d like to nominate you for some awards: The Liebster Award, for blogs with less than 200 followers, the One Lovely Blog Award, The Premio Award (for those who comment on other blogs) and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I hope that’s ok, and I’ll put it in a post soon!

    • missjoiedevivre March 4, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

      One thing I don’t have is cajones! I did the classes to see if I could find them – and it worked! I can’t recommend it enough – and I’m sure you’d find a class in your area 🙂

      Gulp! Thanks for the awards! That’s very sweet of you 🙂

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