Sunday, 12 October 2014

Adventures in burlesque

Exercise sucks. It's never actually finished. Like with housework, I find myself thinking, "What on earth is the point of doing this now when I'll only have all again tomorrow, so I might as well forget it for now and do it tomorrow." Tomorrow comes rather more often for housework than it does for exercise!

However, I do have to keep mobile or I start having trouble with my back and hips, which means I look for alternative ways of being active. For the past couple of weeks I've been having burlesque lessons. Dulcie Demure, a well-known local performer, is running classes in Bradford-on-Avon, just down the road. (I have even seen her dance, at Steamcheese in 2013.) Now the first rule of burlesque club is: you don't talk about people who go to burlesque club, so I won't mention the friend who invited me, nor say anything about the other attendees, except to say that they're all lovely, and all shapes and sizes and ages. It's a very inclusive club, and Dulcie is keen to ensure it's a safe space where everyone can feel free to enjoy themselves. Hence the first rule of burlesque club.



The first week was spent learning to walk and stand. If you're thinking, 'Pah, I've been doing that since I was two!', well, not like this you haven't. My posture and motion are naturally ungainly, so this was harder than I expected to do all at once. I'm constantly barking orders to myself in my head. One foot in front of the other! Chest up! Not out, up! Chin up! Stop looking at my feet! WHERE ARE MY FEET?! So I'm sure I'm pulling all sorts of super-shecksy grimaces... We also got taught all the things we needed to bring, from dance shoes to silk scarves.

I missed last week because the trains back from the British Library's Gothic Imagination exhibition were borked at Westbury, so this week had to capture up with 'jazz walk'. Then we learned a 'Charleston stroll'. This was hard work, but I've had a go at a basic Charleston before so I knew it would be and I knew I wanted to do it. Dulcie did laugh at my inability to get my crossovers right (I was skipping, having decided it was better to keep up with everyone else and get the rhythm right, and I'd work on the fancy steps in my own time). And we learned our first Reveal: I can now remove gloves, ay caramba!

The classes are ten groups of four, and I'll definitely be signing up for another four as I'm really enjoying them. I don't think I'll ever be especially good about it, but thanks to the first rule of burlesque club, you'll never know. I do think the fact that I'd learned a bit of pole dancing years ago - yes, really, it's that no-exercise exercise thing again - means I have an unfortunate habit of being, as Dulcie puts it, 'a bit Spearmint Rhino'. I shall have to curb that! In the meantime, I've been having thinking up names for myself for the performances I'll never give...

Have you ever tried burlesque? How far did you get with it if you did? If you're looking for classes in the north-west of Wiltshire, I definitely recommend signing up with Dulcie.

8 comments :

  1. Awesome - what tremendous fun! The thought of going to a gym, or a regular exercise class, (even Zumba, ugh), makes me run to the household chores! Lindy Hop and Balboa are the answer for me. Or rather, were. The music, the clothes, I won't go on. Have fun with it!

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    1. Yes, I'm so chuffed I can Charleston (badly) now. Much more fun than nasty gym stuff.

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  2. Burlesque classes sound like so much fun! I do like to exercise but my depression issues tend to keep me from doing it regularly. Maybe if I was learning how to strut my stuff I could kill the depression demon while being active.

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    1. I guess the key is to find a class you can dip in and out of, according to when you feel able to do it. I wish you well with battling the demon.

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  3. I'm tickled by the thought of 'Spearmint Rhino Mim' twirling her tassels!! How wonderful that you're having such a good time with it, it's really great to find something that gives you a bit of exercise, is a bonding experience with others, and a bit of a laugh too. In a previous life before blogging I have to confess that I was once a poledance instructor, before a brief but glittering career as a burlesque performer. I went from having no self-esteem to feeling like a moviestar! I have a solid set of friends from those stocking-peeling days, and feel like it was a really wonderful experience in my life.

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    1. You actually performed? WOW! I don't think I'll ever be brave enough for that - too old, too lardy. However, it is a jolly good laugh and I'm enjoying it immensely.

      I can be rather 'Nanny Ogg' in general, the world will just have to live with my natural vulgarity.

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  4. It sounds like lots of fun and that has to be the best way to exercise rather than doing things that are dull and hard work. There is quite a burlesque scene where I live and I am always amazed by the performances. Plus I love the glamour, the hair and make up, the sequins etc!

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    1. I'm hoping for hair lessons. Mine is a continual problem. Can't do it, won't do it!

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