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What is Burlesque?


Most people think burlesque is a seedy striptease by the average woman with a face full of make-up, (me included). However, recently, I watched a programme about the history and art of burlesque and I found it absolutely fascinating. Burlesque, when done properly, is elegant and glamorous and transforms the act of stripping into an art form.

Burlesque began in the 19th century British music hall and gradually became a little racier in the first half of the 20th century. Burlesque became very popular, with exponents wearing designer lingerie and outrageous costumes, revealing as much of the female figure as possible without being overly vulgar. Hustles, bustles, nipple tassels (sounds painful!) and garters became the main uniform, allowing men to see their fantasies turn into realities before their eyes.

In the 1950s and 60s burlesque inspired designer lingerie and corsets made it's way into bedrooms across North America. Unfortunately as the pornographic industry expanded dramatically in the States in the 70s, burlesque lost its sophistication and elegance and began to be regarded as a form of soft porn.

Today the tradition and style of burlesque is undergoing a renaissance and has been brought back from obscurity by the likes of stunning Dita Von Tesse. Burlesque not only gives a creative twist to stripping, but celebrates the female form in all shapes and sizes, as burlesque dancers have always been a little on the curvier side. Strangely, burlesque may find support in the recent disquiet among some more conservative elements, the 'size zero debate', regarding the overly slim models that can be seen, controversially, on some catwalks nowadays.

Most of the designer lingerie that we see today has its roots in the burlesque tradition. So next time you're sporting a fab Eternal Spirits' Corset remember the story behind burlesque.

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