For the past 3 years I have wanted to see what all the BurlyCon buzz was about. This year I decided that I wanted to take another step in my burly career and BurlyCon was a must do on the list. I made my debut in summer of 2011 with the Burlesque Experience. At that time I would have never imagined I would be where I am today. I was welcomed into the burlesque community with open arms and in three years I have become an established performer with the largest burlesque show in Texas, Viva Dallas Burlesque, become a mentor, coach, instructor and not only that I have also transitioned from my full-time freelance corporate work to almost full-time burly work. Turns out graphic design and photography are a great fit for this industry!
During my 3 years of becoming woven into the local burly scene I have heard feedback from people who have had the opportunity to attend BurlyCon in the past. What I gathered from all the incredible feedback is that it is a must if you are looking to continue in the burly world as a performer, producer, emcee, stage kitten or any other part of the community. Even if you’re not looking to make it you whole world like me it is still an incredible experience to not only learn new dance techniques and network but to really experience the community. What I discovered in those four days is that burlesque is absolutely something I want to be a part of for as long as possible.
After finishing my ice coffee I hopped on the easy to use and understand light rail and headed downtown to my friend’s apartment. About 40 minutes later I was in the heart of Seattle and could hardly believe it! Not only was I here to experience BurlyCon but also reconnect with an old friend and explore a city that I have always wanted to visit. It couldn’t get any better!
I took the advice of a few friends who had attended BurlyCon in the past and made my class schedule ahead of time. With so many wonderful classes happening at the same time I really had to think about what was most important to me at this time in my burly life. I chose to focus on the classes and not worry too much about attending the extra late-night activities. Maybe next year I’ll check out the peer reviews, dance party or karaoke night.
After settling in for the evening and enjoying some yummy thai food it was time to rest up and prep for my first day at BurlyCon!
On the agenda for today was: Overcoming Strippers Block with Jonny Porkpie, named New York’s “Best Naked Impresario” by New York Press along with many other amazing things that I am sure can be easily researched online; Maximizing Your Stage Presence with Waxie Moon, a gender-blending queer lady boylesque performance art stripping sensation featured in the documentary A Wink and A Smile; Seducing with Props with Willy Barrett, he’s taught at notable locations such as The Julliard School and is known by Boston’s Betty Blaize as “The High Priest of Dance”. Oh my! If this was the end of my BurlyCon adventure I would be a happy camper but there was much, much more in store after this! After feverishly taking notes all day while trying to be mentally present for the class exercises the evening caucuses came and it was time to sit back, relax and get to know some people in the community. There was a caucus for everyone from “newbies” to “southern line”, from “parenting” to “gamers”. This gave me a clear understanding of the people I would be connecting with all weekend.
Feeling oh so satisfied after day one I headed home for the night. Pizza, beer and other special sweet treats were on the menu for this evening.
Day 2 Friday Oct. 10th, 2014
I was pumped! Ready for a full day of burly learning! My absolute favorite class on this day was Darlinda Just Darlinda’s “Oh How I Love You! Connecting with the Audience”. This class was so special to me because since I’ve been performing I have been told many time that I have great stage presence, this resulted in me teaching workshops for beginners on connecting with the audience. Darlinda’s class was full of challenging and fun exercises that gave everyone the opportunity to practice those concepts on connecting in real life with real people, over and over. This was an invaluable experience because as a performer you really only get to truly practice your connection with others during your act! To be able to explore techniques for connecting with others for an entire hour was thrilling to say the least!
Day 3 Saturday Oct. 11th, 2014
Still feeling pumped although I admit a little tired I was able to shimmy my butt on the train and arrive just in time for Twerk and Jerk Hip Hop choreography with award-winning Jeez Loueez. I didn’t have a chance to grab coffee this morning but with this class there is no option butt to wake up! Pun intended.
After the early morning twerking I hip hopped over to Showcasing Your Body with Kitten DeVille. Since my acts are typically high-energy and comedic I thought this would be a great reminder of the more sensual side of this art form and if definitely was that and so much more! Kitten is an international burlesque star and known as “The Embodiment of Burlesque”, who better to teach you how to showcase your body!
This was the final day of BurlyCon and while I was exhausted I was sad to see it end. I missed a few classes I wanted to take this morning because I just had to get a little extra rest and explore the market a bit. I’ll admit staying at the hotel is a lot easier as far as conserving energy but I had to save the money and stay with a friend. Plus side seeing the city every morning and evening was exhilarating! I think I would do it the same way next year. So today got off to a slow start but a good start. I was really torn between a couple of classes but decided on finishing my BurlyCon adventure with Character and Persona development with Dr. Lucky, designated a “Burlesque Expert” by NY1 and Big Think. This class really made me think about my persona, how to develop it and the class exercises were hilarious especially the mime exercise. After some good laughs and new ideas to help me develop I headed to the closing ceremony. I was prepared with plenty of tissue on hand stuffed in my bra. I heard that this part was a real tear jerker. What? Why would I tear up I thought to myself. I don’t know most of these people and it would be really difficult to remember everyone that I chatted and exchanged cards with. Then I realized what they meant.
Indigo Blue asked us to write on a blank piece of paper what we wanted from this community. We were told to fold those papers in half. Standing in two lines that were facing each other we were to pass that paper to the person in front of us and rotate so that we are face to face with a new person. We did this a few times and in between were given little things to reveal to each other like what did you learn, etc. Eventually a few people were called out to read some of the papers, specifically those that were not wearing any underwear. There had to be some guideline so that we wouldn’t be there all night! Those not wearing underwear stepped into a circle in the center of the ballroom and a microphone was passed around as they revealed to everyone what was written on the paper they held. That’s what did it. That was the tear jerky part. As we all looked around at each other, some wiping tears as the messages of our fellow burly people were read aloud I came to a realization. Even though all the messages sounded different they all meant the same thing. The same thing that everyone had written, the same thing I had written on my paper. “Love and Support.” At that moment I felt at home.
BurlyCon is something I will never forget. It was a fun, supportive learning and networking experience. I plan on going back next year and hopefully many more times. My cherry has been popped and I will always remember you BurlyCon. See you next year!
Sweet Darla Danger