Tuesday, May 1, 2012

burlesque life lessons

A few months ago, my good friend Lu and I purchased a Bloomspot for a four-week Introduction to Burlesque series on a lark. It wasn't until we signed up for the April sessions that I actually took a look at the class descriptions. I scanned the paragraphs and saw all of the "normal" things - gloves, boas, thigh highs, nipple tassels -- whoa, hold up a second? Pasties? Nipple tassels? Hell to the no. I swore up and down that I was not going to be swinging ANYTHING from my breasts. Especially not in a room full of other women. I think the words "I'd rather throw myself into traffic or get eaten alive by wolves" were uttered about ten times. You know me, I'm not really all that dramatic, so...

Each week focused on a removal and a dance move of some sort. Week one was the bump and a glove removal, two was the grind and shirt/skirt removal, three was floor work and thigh highs and week four was the dreaded TASSELS and boas. One really great thing was that was the same group of women in the four sessions, so we all were able to get comfortable with one another -- and with ourselves. I couldn't stop laughing for most of the first class. I just felt so goofy and uncomfortable. It's hard to take yourself seriously when you're walking around in yoga pants and heels, doing the bump in a room full of strangers in front of a mirror. I did get a bit of a kick when one of the women told me that I had "the perfect ass for the bump." She referred to me as the "girl with the butt" for the entire month, and I can't say that I minded one bit.

By the second week I was able to get more into "character" and relax (ever so slightly). It was the skirt and shirt removal, and it sounds silly, but I was nervous to take my shirt off in front of a room full of women. Although, I don't think it was the act of taking off my shirt (I was wearing a bra underneath anyway), it had more to do with how I feel when I'm trying to be sexy. You see, I've never felt sexy. I've been described as funny, sassy, cute and smart. I'm not one of those women who exudes sensuality. And if I try at all, I normally just seem totally awkward. In the end, I did it, but I was wearing a pretty dowdy bra and I felt really uncomfortable. But I did it, while looking at myself in a floor-to-ceiling window the entire time.

Unfortunately we missed week three - that's when they did floor work and thigh highs. Luckily, we were able to practice the floor work in week four. As I may have mentioned, week four was when we would combine all of the skills and moves we had learned. And then.. we would be working with tassels. I wish I could say that I had no reservations about it, but I was totally flustered and stressed. Luckily, I had brought some box wine with us to enjoy in the parking lot before class started. It wasn't enough to get me drunk by any means, but it definitely helped take a little of the edge off. After we'd reviewed the moves from the first three weeks it was time to all apply our pasties. It was pretty comforting to see that I wasn't the only nervous one. A lot of the women were deciding if they should wear tank tops under their bras for the removal. In the end we went Musketeer style -- all for one, baby. We decided, as a group, that we'd all just go for it, no tank tops.

I stood in the front of the room for the bra removal. I'm really self-conscious about my breasts (among other things..) and I was nervous that other women would judge me and think that they were saggy, or that my nipples were weird or something. But you know what? When we were all jumping around the room topless, dancing to music I actually felt... FREE. I wasn't judging my body or how I looked. I was having fun and letting go. Looking around the room I could tell that many other women in there felt the exact same way.

The last task our instructor gave us was to take one final song and to combine all that we had learned. She told us that the song was over four minutes long and that we should just go for it. And you know what? By the time the song was over I was standing there in my heels, underwear and red nipple tassels. I wasn't laughing at myself as I had in week one, and I wasn't uncomfortable as I had been in week two. I felt awesome and -- dare I say it? Sexy. Yes, I felt sexy.

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