Photograph: Suzie Sequin
Burlesque is an artform that has enjoyed a massive resurgence in recent times. Beginning in the 1840’s, Burlesque usually consisted of performances by the working classes as a way of mocking the strange ways and traditions of upper classes. Derived from the Italian word ‘burla’ meaning joke, the shows would employ spoofs of popular Shakespeare plays, classic literature and operas as a platform for their satirical parodies.
At the core of Burlesque is an appeal to the senses, most notably lust and laughter. Edging on the naughty and the taboo, the innuendo and double entendre, all great cornerstones of the English psyche, the shows were a great success, although the demographic was largely the male working classes. As society evolved though it proceeded to spread to a much wider audience, changing its ideals as it went along. Nowadays it is more about empowering women, embracing their sexuality and femininity, showing confidence in expressing sensuality.
Often confused with just another term for stripping, Burlesque in reality is much more than that. To quote Caitlin Moran: “With burlesque the power balance rests with the person taking their clothes off”. Adding personality and depth that stripping completely lacks, the performers “sing, talk and laugh… They tell jokes”, they “explore sexuality from a position of strength, with ideas, and protection, and a culture that allows them to do, creatively, as they please”.
With ever more Burlesque events appearing throughout the country, the profession that gave The Pussycat Dolls their break is more relevant than ever.
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Skiddle’s Top 5 Burlesque Events: