Adventures in burlesque
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.