It was Saturday night, I had been gifted with the best sleep of the last week the night before, and I was all set to watch some silly/sexy dancing.
I'd seen burlesque once before at Shazam Fest when my friend Shaheen and I went to try to make some money selling his tie-dye. We were both at the peak of our mental illnesses, my drug induced psychosis and his depression, so the whole festival was kind of a shit-show for us. I was a bit hung up on the hippy-fascist new world order that the festival was ushering in, so I had some trouble enjoying most of the performances I saw. Needless to say, I was expecting a somewhat different experience last night, and I ended up enjoying myself a lot more than the last time I watched burlesque.
First off, I have to say, the people who go to burlesque shows are so fucking cool looking. They're, like, art-punk or something. Colourful hair, sexy outfits, massive beards or waxed mustaches, and tons of them smoke, kinda like steampunk but a bit more organic.
I won't lie, I was turned on by some of the dancing, but only when it was explicitly referencing sex. The dancing that was most enjoyable for me, though, was the funnier stuff. One dancer did a tribute to Bob Ross where the dancer was wearing a brown afro and a beard, and was embarassed by their increasing levels of nudity. There were two acts that used neo-celtic music from the east coast which were great. One dancer, who was originally from Cambodia, did a fusion of traditional Cambodian dance and the style (I don't know what it's called) where the dancer uses short sharp movements in time with the rythym.
A bit like drag shows, there's an intriguing mix of sexy, funny, earnesty, and irony in the performance. There's a lot of artistry to the choreography, and they deal with a broad selection of themes in their dance. I recognized references to feminism, environmentalism, gender-bending, and queer sexuality.
I'd like to see more burlesque.