• Thu, Oct 21 2010

I Took a Burlesque Class to Feel Sexy, and Felt Anything But

I’ve always loved to dance. I’d never delude myself into thinking I have any great dance moves, nor would I list it among my assets or skills. I was once in Brooklyn dancing with a male friend and a couple girls tracked me down in the bathroom and told me we were the best dancers they’d ever seen. I’m going to assume they were intoxicated, or it was mostly the male friend (fella’s got some moves on him).

Although I’ve daydreamed about it, I have never been out dancing where the crowd has parted and formed a circle around me and cheered me on à la Footloose. My mother had warned me about watching that movie too many times when I was little; she knew it would lead to false expectations.

My love of dancing, sequins, and tantalizing behavior eventually led me to the art form of burlesque. I wasn’t in New York City a full month yet when I tracked down my first burlesque show and fell in love. As a girl who has some curves on her, I adore the fact that burlesque doesn’t see shapes and sizes: all women are sexy and gorgeous, and when covered in feathers and pasties with tassels, hot as hell.

Having been practicing my “sexy” dance moves around my bedroom for years, I thought it was time to take a professional class. I knew with the right training, I’d be the next Dita von Teese. Besides, my great-great grandmother was a Ziegfeld Girl, so I figured it was in my blood. I couldn’t lose.

I signed up for the “Flirting with Burlesque” class at The New York School of Burlesque. Even before I walked in the door, I already had visions of how great I’d be and how pink and black would become my signature colors once my burlesque career took off… and it was going to, of course.

Reality check: burlesque is fucking hard. There were eight of us in our class and we all struggled with keeping our upper bodies completely still while gyrating our pelvic bones, then keeping our pelvises in place while shimmying our boobs. I realized my hips don’t like to move on their own, and unfortunately, we had to do this in front of a mirror, where we were faced with the horrifying truth of our spastic movements. Even when I tried to seamlessly roll my shoulders then graze my breasts with the back of my hand, it came out awkward and robotic. I felt like Number 5 from Short Circuit, but with even way less grace.

I thought once we made our way to floor activities, I’d be better – um, no. While our instructor, Gal Friday (who was beyond sweet and encouraging), slithered across the floor like some sort of beautiful oiled-up swan, the rest of us looked like we were having convulsions. If anyone had looked in the classroom at that moment, I’m sure they would have busted in and tried to save us all from ourselves. I didn’t expect to be an expert immediately, but I also didn’t expect to start doubting my ability to be sexy, and even worse, how I might be in bed. If my hips can’t glide with ease, what does this say about my bedroom techniques? I don’t even want to think about it.

The one move I was able to master within minutes was the “butt bounce;” something that you do while on the floor with your legs spread, and something I’ve been volunteering to show my friends ever since – much to their horror. And it’s literally just that: a butt bounce, but Gal Friday said with the right performance outfit it looks even sexier. I figured if it looked as good as it did while I was donning my grey yoga pants, it was going to look even better once I got my pink and black costume. My dreams of being a professional burlesque dancer came flooding back to me again.

I’m not done with my burlesque training by any means. I plan to take a couple more “Flirting” classes, and depending on how they go, I will consider actually committing to a several-week-long course. Even if my moves don’t improve, at least it’s one hell of a workout on your legs and stomach – I was in pain the next day. If all else fails there’s always trapeze swinging. I’ve never tried it, and yes, I’m afraid of heights, but I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll be fabulous at it – I’m really good at letting go and falling – that’s always come easy to me.

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  • pattywagon

    GREAT STORY. I once took a belly dancing class to impress my current love at the time, I had a GREAT time but he just laughed at the sight of me flailing my body parts, the best part was the clickers. Keep up with it, there may be a future there.

  • erin

    keep us posted on how Flirting goes! the one pole dancing class i took left me with VERY sore arms and a LOT of respect for strippers.

  • Gal Friday

    Everything is hard for the first time! (Oh the terrible flashbacks of tap dancing class where i was hopeless!!) But, the great part is that you joined in with a gusto and gave it your best!!! Just because those moves didn’t work for you is no indication you wouldn’t kill as a Burlesque performer!!! It’s all about what you bring to the table. Do the moves that feel great for you. When it feels right and sexy it IS right and sexy!!
    Much XOXOXO’s
    ~Gal Friday

  • chris

    Love your article/blog about the class. Glad to know that another woman out there has the plan to be the best before she even starts the class. I too am very good at letting go & falling regardless of my fears. Thanks for being so honest. Your story reminded me of my belly dancing classes. I bought the little outfit & then saw myself in the mirror, I couldn’t stop laughing & the other students just reassured me I didn’t look that bad, I couldn’t believe they were trying to lie to me despite the obvious. Thanks again