The Scene

In the heart of Bushwick (aka the hipster capital of America), lives a magical venue called House of Yes. Their about section says it all:

We have created this space as a temple of expression dedicated to connection, creativity and celebrating life. We believe in the creative energy of every person who enters this space. We believe that performance, dance and art can inspire and heal us. We believe the world can be a better place. We believe that weird is wonderful. See you on the dance floor.

Once a month, House of Yes hosts an amateur burlesque show. The event is free but the expectation is for you to show up with hella bills so that you can shower the performers with love. This ultra inclusive event featured a wide array of performers who got their groove on to an equally eclectic playlist, from Mariah Carey’s Fantasy to Elohim’s Hallucinating. The MC, Junior Mint, was the embodiment of an Aries goddess – confident, charismatic, and no-nonsense when it came to talking about consent. As it was amateur night, I didn’t have crazy high expectations but I ended up being blown away. Here’s what I learned at Amateur Burlesque Night:

(Burlesque) Bodies Come in All Shapes and Sizes

This burlesque dancer showed up in full costume without even knowing she was going to perform. Iconic much?

Turns out you don’t have to have the curvaceous, pinup Kat Von Dee look to sleigh the burlesque game. And thank god for that because back in her heyday, she used to wear corsets to keep her waist at an utterly insane 56 cm. Talk about unattainable. As a lanky goofball who earned the childhood nickname “chicken legs” due to my lack of curves, giving burlesque a try never once crossed my mind. I just assumed it was a space reserved for the Marilyns of the world, not the Audreys, and I was at peace with that. But it turns out, I was totally wrong. House of Yes’ Amateur Burlesque Night showcased a diverse group of dancers whose body types ranged from twiggy to hourglass to plus size. 

Some were tall, some were short; some were black, some were white; some were cis, some were trans; some identified as women, some as non binary. It was a wonderfully whimsical and immersive experience that placed radical acceptance above all else. Each time a dancer tried out a particularly risky move or removed a piece of clothing, the crowd erupted into cheers. You got the sense that we weren’t just celebrating the individual spunk of each dancer, but also the collective humanity and love that pulsed through the room like a surge of electricity.

Now I’m not saying I’m ready to add my name to the Amateur Burlesque Night roster just yet, but I can say with confidence that even if I were to go up there and totally blow it – trip over myself, freeze, projectile vomit – the audience would rally around me, gifting me with dollar bills and hugs. It’s these kinds of judgment free spaces where people thrive most. Expectations go out the window and pave the way for uninhibited self-expression.

It’s All About the Energy — Sensual Energy That Is

Junior Mint asked the audience “Where are the glucose guardians at?” and out came the hundreds.

In case I didn’t drill it into your head enough in the last paragraph, burlesque is not about what you look like! Nor is it about what you wear. Although let’s be real, style goes a long way and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t humbled by some of the getups the queens at Amateur Burlesque Night were donning. But at the end of the day, what really matters is the confidence with which you carry yourself.

Capitalism thrives on brainwashing people into hating themselves. If you think you’re not good enough, it’s way easier for big businesses to sell their products, services, and aspirational lifestyles to you. The beauty industry doesn’t win if it encourages women to love themselves as they are, free from makeup and lip injections. Just as the luxury car market can’t stay relevant if they stop marketing themselves to men with Napoleon complexes who are desperately trying to overcompensate for their perceived flaws. 

Many people are out of touch with their sensual sides simply because sensuality is so closely linked to self-love – something we as a culture are devoid of. I have an alarming number of hetero female friends who are confident in virtually all areas of their lives except for when it comes to their bodies. They shy away from dancing naked in front of their bedroom mirror or taking naughty photos of themselves (especially in the context of “I am feeling myself” rather than “A guy asked for nudes”).

Too often, women engage in sex as some sort of performative act with the end goal of receiving external validation. It is less about getting in touch with their own desires and more about learning how to satisfy someone else’s. Burlesque dancers are so not about that life. For them, it’s all about feeling themselves. Red pill buffoons will say that women only get up on stages for attention, but in reality, being a burlesque dancer or any performer for that matter is about tapping into the freest, most authentic version of yourself, and in doing so, connecting with others who are longing to do the same – whether or not they are aware of it. 

There’s No Need to Take This Shit Too Seriously — Just Have Fun With It

The winner of the night’s dance off. Who needs pasties when you got moves?

Remember when I described my preconceived idea of what a burlesque dancer looks like – a Betty Boop looking gal gyrating erotically on the floor as she stares deep into the souls of the men whose hearts she’s taking captive. Well it turns out that while such sultry seductresses do very much exist within the burlesque scene, there are many other archetypes to choose from. There’s the theater kid, who launches into song before stripping down in what feels almost like an afterthought to their musical number.

There’s the playful mischief, who is highly attuned to the audience and loves to incite a laugh. There’s the queen of ratchet, who pushes boundaries unapologetically and takes no prisoners. All in all, burlesque does not have to be the ultra sexy, high stakes performance we see depicted in the media. It’s about letting go. If letting go means channeling your inner femme fatale, dope! But if it means playing the joker, that’s cool too. What’s more is that you are free and encouraged to explore multiple personas. 

We are multifaceted beings after all. Why be some one-dimensional stock character when you can show the world your full range of emotions, personality traits, and passions instead? Same shit applies to sex. It’s too easy to get in our heads and think about all the “should”s. I should arch my back and bite my lip to look more appealing. I should moan like they do in porn even if it feels forced. I should cum faster because he’s been down there forever and I’m starting to feel guilty. Or worse – the “shouldn’t”s.

I shouldn’t laugh when he makes a weird noise because it might make him insecure. I shouldn’t come across as too dominant because I know he’s into subs. I shouldn’t tell him the truth about how many sexual partners I’ve had because he might judge me for it. Imagine a world free from all these insecurities and hangups. Where we didn’t let the media influence how we engage in sex to such an eerily pervasive degree. Where we could turn off the “sex energizer bunny” character we’ve been trained to turn on when pursuing the opposite sex, and instead, just be ourselves – our sometimes sexy, sometimes silly, sometimes angry, always real selves.

While such a utopia will probably never exist, at least not in my lifetime, a world with more burlesque – especially the beginner friendly, inclusive kind – does not seem so far fetched. I imagine it would be a much more spiritually attuned, accepting, and fun place than it is now, but who knows? All I know for sure is that I will most definitely be returning to Amateur Burlesque Night next month and I hope to see you there. 

Culture
burlesque
erotic dance
Massage
Author

Jules

Author

Based in Brooklyn, Jules has dedicated her twenties towards harnessing her pussy power, exploring the muse, whore, and wild woman archetypes along the way. When not blogging, you can find her sweating the toxins out in a hot yoga class or sipping a matcha latte at a pretentious coffee shop, whilst she scribbles away in her journal.


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