Apologies in advance to those not interested in burlesque, you may or may not know I hung up my performing shoes in December but still remain a part of the community as a burlesque blogger over at www.ivywilde.net and I still co-run the North West Burlesque Society. One of the reasons I stopped performing was because I loved making the costumes much more than being on stage so sewing for me goes hand in hand with burlesque, without one I wouldn’t have the other. I hope you enjoy this post.
I know it’s taken me a little while to write this blog but I have been mulling things over for the past couple of weeks.
Walking down to the bar before the first show on the Thursday was like a surreal dream, attendees in gorgeous, outrageous and stunning outfits, dressed up to the nines, interspersed between the regular joes in their comfies sat at the slots and wondering what exactly the hell was happening. I’ve never been so far but felt so much at home.
Before I give the lowdown on what I did and who I saw and where I went (expect something a wee bit lengthy), I’d just like to say this:
The weekend really made me feel the amazing power of burlesque community spirit. Everyone was friendly, happy, supportive and happy to share their love of this fantastic art form with the others they met. Everyone was an ambassador for burlesque and proved themselves a worthy one by being welcoming, open and honest, hearts were on sleeves, laughter was in the air and I loved every second of it.
To anyone in the UK who hasn’t been: Go. Book the plane ticket when you can and the rest will fall into place. Go with your peers, the cost is minimal when 4 share a room (around £130 for 7 nights each). It will be the best decision you have ever made, and the stories you hear, the people you meet, the burlesque you immerse yourself into will be an invaluable experience.
I’d also like to send a big smooch to the lovely gals and guys I spent my time with. Roomies: my bed-mate Havana Hurricane, Daisy Cutter and Trixie Passion. I have honestly not laughed that much in YEARS. Big love to my Manchester NWBS missy with the mostest Ginger La Rouge and her fab chap Andy. HIYA to Nez Kendal and Violet Wray, and lovely meeting and hanging out with Lili La Scala, The Boy with Tape on His Face and Aurora Galore. UK REPRAZENT!
So here we go, day by day….(hang on folks – lots of pics I promise and don’t expect you to read all of the text – cardinal rule of too long a blog about to be broken!)
After 23 hours travelling (delayed flights) I got into Vegas and stumbled into a cab for the ride to the Orleans, I had a good old chat with the driver who told me that he’d been to the UK in the 70s and he liked everything but the food.
Daisy & Trixie had already checked in, so after a shower and unpacking I collapsed into bed only to be awoke by the loud chirrup of a cricket that had hitched a ride on my suitcase and was loudly rubbing his legs near my head. After sitting up like Regan from The Exorcist me and Daisy found it and Trixie let it go outside.
Then it really was time to sleep, and sleep I did.
I woke up early, far too early and couldn’t get back to sleep. So I peeked out of the window and admired our poolside view and gasped as I noted the sun was beating down relentlessly already (English roses are not so great in the desert heart). Got ready and went for breakfast (humongous).
After a jaunt round the pool and a little meet up with Nez, Violet and Ginger we decided to wander down to the strip and check some of it out.
We ended up in Paris and up to the top of the tower, which was pretty scary for me (terrified of heights) but I was glad I went up to the top. After some walking about, finding a zolar machine and doing a little shopping (check out my gorgeous bag) we trundled back to the hotel to get ready for the first night of shows. By the time we got back Havana had landed but she was exhausted after travelling so decided to say in for the evening to unpack and relax.
All dolled up, off we went to the Movers, Shakers and Innovators Showcase, a great way to kick off an exceptional weekend. The standard was so high but I especially loved Bella Blue (who danced to a cover of Depeche Mode’s Stripped), Darlinda Just Darlinda who really showed what you could do with one costume and a chair and Rubenesque Burlesque who brought the house down.
Ray Gunn’s Jabberwocky performance at the end of the show left is all with dropped jaws and drooling gobs! Powerhouse, physically and performance wise.
Friday morning we met up with the UK collective and made a little pilgrimage to DuBarry’s (or the stripper bling shop if you’d rather) where we all pretty much bought the place up.
Following this we went downtown, had a wander down Freemont Street and then onto the BHoF Museum.
The Museum is small but perfectly formed, with only a few of the vast collection on show it did a great job of guiding you through burlesque and Exotic World. It was especially touching that one of Sparkly Devil’s costumes was featured when the weekender was on.
I bought a few postcards and a book of matches from the Helendale ranch. I am planning on mounting and framing them so they’ll go in my sewing room when we move house next year.
We headed back to the Orleans for the Barecats Bowling Tournament. Having names ourselves “the British Invasion” we decided tweed, bowler hats, braces ad lots of jolly good shows were in order. I was (as usual) crap at bowling (damn my brachydactyly type d).
After much fun and laughter we snuck off early to get changed and eat before the Friday night show.
The 57th Annual Titans of Tease Reunion Showcase was a highlight of the weekend for me. Not only did I get to see some amazing legends of burlesque, we were treated to World Famous *BOB* as the host. ‘Create the future you want by giving the Legends the love they deserve’ never a truer word spoken. It was amazing to see these women, a few old enough to be my Nana, on stage, still with amazing presence, style and musicality; life and love shining out o them for the audience to see and feel. These are warrior women, who campaigned to make burlesque a legitimate art form and we can all learn so much from them.
I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when Pearle Noir presented Toni Elling with her Legend of the Year Award either, moving, touching and beautiful.
On Saturday we went to the Fantastik shop, which is this brilliant indoor flea marker type place, where I realised I can wear fake hair now it’s brown again (Yeah!) so I bought some. It’s my new favourite thing EVER.
Then we wandered about the Burlesque Bazaar, I entered the raffle to win one of Gypsy Louise’s robes, and we chatted to the legends and got some signed pics. They’re all amazing wonderful ladies but it was so lovely to chat to April March who had performed at the Legends show. She’s an amazing lady and more than anything I loved that she’d coloured in the top of her hair with a black marker when it had been cut off when the photos printed.
After a bit of milling around we went for dinner and off to glam ourselves up for the evening and I got to wear the dress I made.
The Tournament of Tease was breath-taking from start to finish. We all knew we’d be in for the cream of the crop but the talent just blew me away.
My personal favourites: Jeez Loueez’s Rufio, Aurora Galore and Bonnie Fix scooping well deserved prizes, Kitten N Lou’s last dance, the Ruby Review (who are complete sweethearts and who didn’t get to pick their favourite colours if you were wondering), Eddie Van Glam’s Macho Man Randy Savage was awesome (although prob lost on those who don’t love WWE), Don’t Blink Burlesque, Ginger Valentine, Melody Manger and of course Midnite Martini.
Congratulations to all of the winners and all hail the new Queen Midnite Martini who gave an absolutely stunning performance.
The pool party was a go go for the Sunday day and after finding a space in the sun as soon as the shadows rolled around we were all boiling and trying to find the spot with the least sun of all.
After a bit of time lazing about, another visit to the bazaar and a quick visit to book a trip out for my birthday the next day we headed off to get ready for the Icons and All Stars show, which was amazing, so happy that I got to see a lot of the people I’ve been watching through my laptop live in front of me for the first time. All amazing, all singing, all dancing, all stripping. A perfect end to the perfect four days of dazzling burlesque.
My birthday! The day I turned *gulp* 34. Off we all went on a coach trip to the Hoover Dam, got to love those big man made structures, no? Just me? It was pretty awesome. And hot. And funny. And hot. Did I mention it was hot?
We also got this pretty horrific souvenir photo, in which I look like a quizzical owl. It was so bad I had to get it. This may also be going in a frame in my new sewing room!
We went on to have a little wander around downtown, went to a few shops and headed back to the hotel to get ready for my birthday fun night, via a stop at the pool where the girls surprised me with an ice cream cake which may just have been the best birthday cake I’ve ever had (bar the one my Auntie made me which looked like a beehive when I was a kid).
I slipped into my gorgeous new 60s maxi dress and accessorised with the jewels I’d bought from DuBarrys (and a scorpion ring Nez had given me) and we were ready to go off to the Peppermill where Ginger and Andy met us for dinner (and where a whole host of scenes form films were shot including Casino).
We then wandered back up the strip to the Cosmopolitan, had a drink in the Chandelier bar and tried to gamble. Still don’t get it. Then it was off to bed once 2am rolled around.
Our last day in Vegas, so we hit the streets and pounded some pavement. On advice from Havana we went to Williams Costume Company. MY WORD. It is a treasure trove in there, so I went a little crazy and bought lots of beads and crystals. And I also bought a fair few yards of some amazing fabric. A bright pink shear fabric with pink glitter bits on it and some gold satin. I can’t wait to get stitching!
Then we went down to the strip. I bought the MOST AWESOME rouge squadron top with a hood that looks like flight helmet. There were guys that made wookie noises at me in a tattoo shop, there were beers that were bigger than Daisy’s head, there were lots of M&Ms.
And that was it. Bags packed (and then packed with more of Daisy’s stuff when she was over at the airport), checked and on the way back to the UK.
Perfect holiday with perfect friends in a perfect place. Two weeks on and it all feels like the most sparkliest of dreams.