Dear Constant Reader,
If you’re just joining me, this are my adventures at the first New Orleans Burlesque Retreat. You can read about the first day here.
The retreat proper began on Thursday, although not too early. Since workshops didn’t start until the afternoon, most of us out-of-towners headed to the Ruby Slipper Cafe, a short walk from the apartments. All my good intentions went out the window with a biscuit loaded with cheddar, candied bacon (yes, you heard that right), and fried green tomato. It was just a delicious as it sounds.
Sally Stardust, Murphy Lawless, and I went to Trashy Diva for a little shopping before classes startted. Fortunately for my wallet, anything I liked wasn’t in my size. Murphy got a very glamourous and versatile dress that sorely tempted me, but alas, not in my size. I did pick up a little something for the troupe — a pair of ruffly panties for The Lost Girl so she can stop borrowing Betty’s (which she bought at Trashy Diva about 10 years ago).
We arrived at the New Orleans School of Burlesque, ready to start learning! It’s a small room with a wall of mirrors, right across from Louis Armstrong park. There’s no bathroom there, but there is a friendly bar next door that didn’t mind us trooping in and out between classes. Besides us out-of-towners, there were about half a dozen locals and a few people who dropped in for a class or two.
We started with a dose of burlesque history. I thought it was a great way to start things off. We have to know where we came from to know where we are going. There wasn’t a lot that was new to me, except for some New Orleans-specific history, which was great to learn.
Next was Total Confidence with Lola van Ella. We did a lot of exercises: walking, making eye contact, giving and receiving energy. My favorite was that everyone had to do a very short solo scene in which you encounter a rock. People were so creative! Everyone had such different ideas about the rock and what they did with it.
Lastly, Bella Blue taught us a short choreography with boas. It was beautiful and challenging. There are some moves that I’m absolutely using at some point. I was frantically taking notes, but at the end Bella performed the routine so we could video it for personal reference. So much more useful than my hasty scrawl.
We all hastened home to relax and get ready for our evening out. The lovely folks from Beauty Butler/Elektra Cosmetics invited us all over for dinner. They have two sphinx cats, so I got a little feline fix. I’ve never met a hairless cat before, but it’s like snuggling a velvet hot water bottle. And so sweet!
There was also glitter for sale at a phenomenal discount. I really should have bought some Bolt Balm, but I was wracked with indecision about color (so many colors!) and ended up buying nothing. I regret it.
Whilst there, the BHoF notifications went out and Bella Blue learned she was finally, after 7 years of applying, competing for Queen of Burlesque! I’m sure the neighbors were wondering what all the screaming and squealing was about.
After our kabobs and homemade beignets, we headed off to Whiskey and Rhinestones, Bella’s show every Thursday-Saturday night. I gather the audience is mostly tourists and it was packed! There were at least two bachelorette parties and some birthdays. We stood over by the bar to watch the show, since every table seat was sold out.
The performance area is a corridor down the center of the room, with the table seats on either side, very much like a classic runway stage. The audience is encouraged to tip, either directly into the tip jar, or by balling up their bills and tossing them onto the stage. I was surprised at how exciting and lively that made things. We don’t usually have tipping at our shows, but I’m hoping there’s a venue where it’s appropriate for us to try it out.
The performers that night were three of our instructors: Sweetpea, Gaea Lady, and Bella, of course. I swear Sweetpea (photo at right) was channeling Blaze Starr. Her look, her moves, her eroticism. I was completely captivated. Gaea was a walking advertisement for the veil workshop she would be teaching later. The way she manipulated the silk was simply breathtaking. At the time I had no idea how she did some of the moves. Bella, of course, was fantastic. She closed out the show with “Roxanne”, the act she would be doing at BHoF. It was even better than when she brought it to The Expo a couple of years ago.
After the show, I was completely exhausted, but Audacious convinced our group that a bite at Dat Dog was the way to end the evening. I wasn’t convinced until I saw they had duck sausage. Because I had no idea what toppings would go well on it (and there were SO MANY to chose from), I asked for “Chef’s choice” to dress my dog. The chef appeared to choose bacon, onions, chipotle mayo, Creole mustard, and bbq sauce. Fine by me.
And then I collapsed into bed very late for an early morning and a full day of workshops.
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