Thanks to the Burlesque movie, starring Christina Aguilera and Cher, burlesque has never been so popular.
Performed by stars like Dita von Teese, burlesque is an elaborate fun and sexy striptease. Burlesque shows are all about the tease – it’s as much about what you don’t see as what you do.
‘Burlesque has its roots in the 18th century, but it was popularised in the US in the 1940s and 50s,’ says Miss Polly Rae one of the new breed of burlesque stars who has performed in London’s West End Theatre
‘At the time it was the equivalent to Spearmint Rhino, but back then the girls weren’t able to reveal as much so they had to be a little bit more discreet and playful and creative with their act. Gypsy Rose Lee (the American burlesque entertainer who died in 1970) was a comedian and she talked to her audience; Lili St Cyr (who died in 1999) had a bath that she used to cavort in, and she did a reverse striptease. Girls got famous for having their own gimmick or gag that made them individual.’
Burlesque died down as more explicit strip clubs and then cinema took over. But in the past two or three years it has come back with vengeance.
Burlesque clubs and shows can now be found in many cities across Europe and America. Thousands of otherwise ordinary, women are putting on feather boas, flame-red lipstick and high heels to shimmy, bump and grind their afternoons away at burlesque classes and many who are getting married are celebrating with burlesque themed hen nights.
Burlesque is even helping drive lingerie sales with many women’s chains reporting a huge increase in sales of burlesque clothing and costumes such as suspenders,corsets and basques.
They hark back to olden day glamour and is a nostalgic counterpart to the see-it-all nature of contemporary stripclubs. I for one hope its popularity continues to grow.