I have been enthralled and in love with burlesque for as long as I can remember, which is why on a dark Wednesday evening in the middle of October, I found myself signed up and ready to join my first class of an 8-week course with Love You Burlesque.
I’m not going to lie, when I first walked in on my own – as burlesque is seen by many as an ‘alternative hobby’, it was difficult to find a friend to come with me – I was a bag of nerves. Anxiously pulling my long black t-shirt over my leggings, I introduced myself to Lizzie and promptly hid at the edge of the room, got on my phone and waited for class to begin.
As people began arriving, I was struck by how overdressed I felt. Many of the LYB Lovelies choose to come to class in frilly undies, a bra and a corset (something that I’ve now embraced wholeheartedly), but at the beginning, I felt somewhat out of place in my leggings and t-shirt. Since then, I’ve become part of the furniture where LYB classes are concerned, and whenever a new course rolls around and new members join our Shimmy for a Fiver class, one of the things I’m most asked is: “When should I start wearing a corset and dressing like you?” The short answer is, you don’t have to. The long answer is that LYB support and encourage everyone to take part in burlesque in whichever way they feel comfortable. Whether that means wearing frillies and a corset, your pjs, leggings and a t-shirt or a fancy-dress costume – LYB Lovelies just want you to feel at your most comfortable.
Once I’d gotten over the fact that there were sequinned puppies and shimmying bums everywhere I looked, I got into position with the rest of the Lovelies, ready to begin the warm-up.
As we began warming-up to Cher’s ‘Burlesque’, I remember being a little intimidated by the ladies dancing around me. They seemed to know the moves perfectly and knew exactly what was coming next – but you’ve got to remember, everyone was a newbie once, so don’t let it put you off if you don’t feel as confident with the moves just yet. The warm-up will come to you – and as you begin learning the new routine, you’ll realise that the ladies you’re dancing with are learning it afresh too.
Another thing that you should expect at a LYB class, is truly fantastic music. Since joining, I’ve danced to ‘Fever’, ‘Candyman’, ‘Thirteen Men’, ‘Shake Your Tail Feather’, ‘Santa Got Stuck Up My Chimney’, ‘After Dark’ and ‘I Put a Spell on You’ – plus some that I’ve probably forgotten! Needless to say, the music is fun, well-thought-out and exciting!
How ever wonderful the music chosen is, nothing compares to the sensational choreography which is paired with it. LYB’s tutors choreograph everything themselves and, when I first joined LYB, I remember being trepidatious about my ability to conquer the dances. The reputation of burlesque as an art had put the idea in my head that everything had to be timed to perfection, flawlessly finished and executed perfectly. Whilst some burlesque performers do focus on this, LYB is a lot more open to changing the routine and, ultimately, just doing you. If you can’t quite do a move (or as we like to say at LYB – if you’re ‘too fabulous’ for that move), it’s no problem, we’ll just work around it and figure something out that’s more comfortable for you. If your style of burlesque includes lots of character-based work, then that’s no problem either! Just incorporate your alter-ego into the performance and dance as you wish!
What I’m trying to say, is that over the last two years, LYB has broken down everything I thought I knew about burlesque as an art, and has built it back up in a strong, empowering and exciting way. I’m sure that when you come along to your first class, you’ll feel the same way too!
After lots of giggles and tentative shimmying, I began to feel more comfortable and confident in myself. Know this – as nervous as you might feel as a newbie at a LYB class, you will never once feel unsupported, you will never once feel like you aren’t encouraged, and you will never once feel left out. Since my first class around two years ago, I have never ever felt like I don’t belong. When you first join a LYB class, you might feel anxious (and some nerves are good!) but I promise you, that if you enjoy burlesque itself, you’ll enjoy the classes and experiences that you can take part in!
LYB is a family.
A weird, wonderful, frilly, sequinned, feathered, sparkly, shimmying, glorious family.
And we would love nothing more than for you to join us.