Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Vintage Va Va Voom!

Copy for an article I submitted to Vintage Life magazine recently:

One of the attractions of vintage is the glamour. Lets be honest, not many of us lead a glamorous life these days, time pressures of modern life mean a quick wash and blow dry for the hair, a slick of make-up and we’re off. There’s no careful layering of exquisite underwear, perfect application of the reddest pout, no curling and pinning of glossy hair. Feminists shout ‘huzzah!’ why should we be restrained by the time consuming pursuit of vanity. But, hang on; sometimes we all need a little glamour, a little fun, a little fantasy, and the license to play in our lives.

If you don’t lead a full-on vintage lifestyle, where can you get your glamour fix, where can you enjoy dressing up and strutting your stuff? The answer might be in the rising popularity of burlesque.

When I was little I dreamed of being a dancer, of having the power to keep an audience captive while I whirled and twirled on stage. I dabbled in pink for ballet, black for modern dance, everything in my teens when I flung myself round the dance floor, strutting my funky stuff into the small hours. Organized dance and I parted company until I was invited to the Haworth 1940’s weekend and took a series of swing jive classes in preparation for the evening wartime-welcome dance. A few days before we travelled North, I twisted my knee, and spent most of the day confined to an American Jeep, I may not have spun around the dance floor as much as I’d hoped, but boy, did I look the part. I sourced a vintage suit on line, slept in rollers the night before, arched my brows and perfected my pout. Dressing up gave me the opportunity to be someone else, I felt confident, powerful.

So when I heard the rumour that burlesque classes were coming to our town, I thought what better way to regain that confidence, dress up and enjoy dance again. Which is how I found myself at the first class of ‘Burlesque Jems’. Run by the chief Feathered and Fabulous Facilitator, Jem Ayres, from the Ministry of Mischief and Mayhem in our local arts centre. That first week we gathered, nervous and uncertain dressed in vests and joggers, by week two the vests had got frillier and there were flicks of eyeliner and curls, by week three the feather boas were in full swing, on week four, the corsets came out. After that, there was no going back. When Missy Malone brought her burlesque revue to town, we rehearsed a routine to perform at the interval. Nervous and exposed we still strutted when the music started, fabulous creatures of every age and size, keeping the audience captivated.

No matter what the day job might be, Burlesque helps you find your inner glamourpuss. When you’re primped and powdered, corseted and confident, you get your legs kicking and hair flicking and pout, shimmy and sizzle through the routine.

Jems philosophy for burlesque is that; “We all need to feel beautiful and sumptuous, and set aside time to revel in and celebrate our womanhood, every woman should have the opportunity to feel fabulous and own her curves.”

To fulfill the burlesque lifestyle, Jem has organized inspirational trips to shows and revues and run vintage hair and beauty workshops, building a sense of camaraderie among her dance groups.

Find burlesque dance classes with Jem at:

Haworth 1940’s weekend, West Yorkshire: