My hosts and I drove into Kamloops, which is about an hour from Salmon Arm, for an amateur burlesque show last night. The show runs every month, and this month’s theme was 50’s Pin Up. I love all things retro, so it was an exciting event for me.
Many people think burlesque is a nude show. Not really, although significant skin was on display at certain points last night. Burlesque is more about anticipation. It’s about making the audience wait for a glimpse of this or that. Really, it’s a feminine art that involves hips swayed at the right moment, conspiratorial winks at the audience, and beautiful costumes that accentuate the dancers’ best parts. Burlesque is a little bit naughty, but mostly it’s a throwback to a simpler time when a lady in a very short skirt and a fringed push-up bra would have been the pinnacle of scandal.
The ladies we saw last night weren’t taking their clothes off just for funsies. During our time lined up outside the blues club that hosted the show, event organizers explained that the proceeds from the evening were pledged to support a member of the dance troupe who had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Like so many people who are fighting cancer and other serious illnesses, she would likely be off work long after her benefits and EI were depleted, so the other dancers decided to raise money on her behalf. Based on the crowds in that little bar last night, the benefit was a definite success.
For the extra curious among you, dear readers, the extent of the exhibition last night was a jeweled thong and matching pasties. Fewer than half a dozen of the dancers peeled that much off, though. Most of the ladies wore bustiers, stockings, and other sparkly, girlie pieces of lingerie that were more vintage class than anything else. Many left the stage wearing exactly what they climbed up there in: it’s not all about the strip in burlesque.
For me, the most entertaining part of the evening was the tall red head, “Vain Calamity Jane,” who danced in the show but also acted as a hostess for the program. At one point, immediately before twirling the tassels on her sequined pasties, Jane stepped back to the microphone and admitted, “You know, my parents are here tonight. They’re very proud.” Jane called out to her folks several times, and she was largely naked during a couple of numbers, before dragging her giggling mother up on stage to take a very reluctant bow. Her dad was glued resolutely to his chair, and he seemed a bit uncomfortable for some reason.
I know this most certainly: if my mother ever caught me twirling tassels in public on the tips of anything but an old-school pair of loafers, she would kill me dead. It would be a no questions asked kind of end for me.
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