Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Burlesque and Me

There was a time in my life I contemplated becoming a stripper.  I like to dance, back then my body was in good shape.  I'd split up from my first husband and was making $800 a month.  I needed some cash.  There were no stripclubs nearby, but there was "bikini dancing".  Basically stripping down to a bikini/bra and underwear.  A pole could be involved if you were so inclined.  Perfect, I wouldn't have to get fully naked (a good thing since my breasts and ass looked like they'd been clawed by an angry bear thanks to the joys of pregnancy a few years earlier).

My husband and I were still kind of seeing each other and we decided to go check things out.  Dimly lit room, alcohol, music, a stage with a pole.  We watched a few girls.  They all had nice bodies, a few actually knew how to use the pole,  and some could move their bodies seductively. Others looked bored and stiff.   "I can do this," I thought.  "You can do this," my ex said.  We learned they had an amateur night once a week.  So we went. And I chickened out.  My stripping career was not meant to be...

Fast forward 15 years.  This past year I've gone to three exotic dance classes.  These were fun because they involved a bunch of women in work out clothes drinking and dancing. But I didn't love it. I'd rather go to a club with a good DJ and get my groove on.  I tried pole dancing class. I hated it.  I didn't feel sexy at all, bruised the shit out of my upper arm, and was ready to leave halfway through the class. 

And then came Burlesque. First the movie came out - now my all time favorite movie. Christina Aguilera was amazing. 

I started searching for local classes and found a workshop series and some upcoming performances.  I dragged my husband and friends to watch one of the shows and knew as I watched that this was something I had to try.  I left the show with two new girl crushes and an overwhelming desire to try this out for myself.

Last weekend I went to Burlesque 101: a two-hour introductory class.  I was a nervous wreck.  Let's see, I have social anxiety and I hate driving and here I was headed into downtown Sacramento to a class completely on my own.  The other participants all came with friends, but I didn't have any friends.  Well, not any friends who were willing to give up a Sunday afternoon to take Burlesque 101 with me.

 "I shouldn't be here.  I'll look like an idiot trying to do it. Look at that girl. She obviously has dance experience.  Only dancers stretch like that.  Oh, look at those two. They even came dressed in fishnets and vests. I do not belong here.  I'm an idiot for thinking I can do this."  That was my internal conversation for about 25 minutes, since I showed up 15 minutes early and we started 10 minutes late waiting for some stragglers.

We sat in a circle, introduced ourselves, and told everyone what brought us there.  I was feeling a little more comfortable.  The instructor/owner explained her Burlesque philosophy and explained that the dancing is about us and nobody else.  We were instructed to look ourselves in the eyes in the mirror and to touch ourselves the way we want a lover to touch us. She explained that we needed to let our bodies guide us.  If her arm was straight up and ours wanted to go to the side, then go to the side.  This wasn't cheerleading where everything must be sharp and the same.   This was sounding better and better.

Then the music started and we began stretching and I knew I was going to love it.  I can't explain what happens to me when I hear certain music.  My mood instantly improves and my hips start moving.  My kids find it really embarrassing. My favorite act during the show we watched was one where there was a puppet master and puppet. It was an amazing act.  When they get the video posted I'll link it here.  It blew me away. And when the song played that night, I turned to my husband and told him I absolutely had to do Burlesque.  When it played during class I was certain that this would not be my last class.  It's "Sail" by Awolnation.  I have to touch myself and dance when I hear this song.  I was in heaven the entire two hours of the class.  At one point we were all practicing and the instructor forgot where she was.

"I was watching YOU and lost track of what I was doing," she exclaimed pointing at me.  I laughed nervously but was really flattered. 

After the class was over, she called me over and gave me the CD we'd been listening to and told me she knew how hard it was to go to something like this alone and that she really hoped I'd come back.  So what did I do? I immediately went home and signed up for their 4-week performance workshop series.  I start this Thursday and on October 7 I'll perform at Fishnet Friday with the rest of my classmates.

I'm probably crazy.  There's a good chance I'll make a total idiot of myself.  But it's been a really long time since I lost myself in something and enjoyed it so much.  I'd given up on feeling excited about anything.  So, here I go.  Wish me luck!

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