Back to Me

As sung by the wonderful Kevin Whelan of the wrens, I’m back to me.

First I started this blog after sitting on years of ideas and thoughts, not to mention major anxiety from holding in so much. And today I finally did something that I’ve wanted to do for years but didn’t have the balls to do.

I signed up for burlesque dance lessons. At the school of the one & only Michelle L’Amour, who is one of the worlds biggest burlesque stars and who is from, and still lives in, Chicago.

I’m excited. But I also felt the overwhelming desire to throw up after I hit the button that paid for my class. I haven’t danced in years. Unless you count my family room.

I know so many people have zero idea what’s involved in burlesque and may equate it with the strippers you see wearing absolutely nothing and sliding down a pole. This is NOT the same thing.

Burlesque as an art goes way back, with origins reaching into the Victorian age. Once it became popular in America in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s it was more of a cabaret act and while in it the women in these acts are not always fully clothed, there’s more of an innocence to the dances that are performed. It’s all about the tease, the peek-a-boo. It’s not the, overtly sexual desperation you come across in “gentleman’s clubs”.

Modern burlesque shows are carefully orchestrated and thought out. The women are glamorous and come in all shapes and sizes, which is one of my favorite things about it, it showcases that all women are beautiful how they are.

Burlesque shows involve drama, comedy, song and of course the women. Some even incorporate magicians. They’re really a celebration of the arts and the fantastic.

I first became fascinated by the art as a teenager. I can’t pinpoint exactly what made me fall in love with the idea of it, it may have been the movies I had seen or the books I had read. However, I found it extremely intriguing that women could be this free with their bodies and it was beautiful.

When I was in my early 20’s I finally had the chance to go to New Orleans, the city I had been dreaming about visiting since I was a kid, and when I was there I had the opportunity to take in two burlesque shows. They were electric, and my love for it was truly born.

Years passed of course and it was something I was always interested in. Keep in mind that most of my life I have been involved in either theater, dance or music so none of this is a complete surprise.

Dita Von Teese really helped bring the modern burlesque revival into the mainstream over the last ten years. And of course Michelle L’Amour. I had been dreaming about getting into the business for a long time but it really didn’t fit my stay-at home-mom status in the suburbs. If you know me, you know I’m not the normal suburban woman. Which is ok, I salute all moms from all over.

Last year we started going to some of the Chicago shows. There are so many different companies that sprung up, Chicago has truly become a driving force in the revival. There were a few dancers that stood out to me in these shows, dancers that had that energy, that spark. And I wanted to be like them. But I’m out in the suburbs.

It was after we went to see the Chicago Starlets(Michelle’s company) in december that I was just on fire. We had the luck of having front row seats, where I practically sat underneath Michelle as she MC’d the first half of the show. All I knew was I so badly wanted to be on that stage. I told my husband that night on the way home “I HAVE to do this”. And he understood.

Sadly I broke my toes around the time the winter classes were beginning so that was out of the question. Then the other health issues popped up in spring, and well summer’s just plain been a bitch.

I was feeling sorry for myself that I’ve never truly been able to pursue anything for ME. Josh has his music, his band.

A couple of weeks ago I was checking the events on a local company’s page. The two dancers that really made me want to do this? They were performing the same night with this company. Talk about luck! I called the husband and told him I’m getting a sitter and tickets and we’re going. And so we are. That’s next week. And I’m super excited about it.

I was looking at the local burlesque site, Chicago Burlesque, today and I had put on some music and just started working out routines to the songs. I stopped in the middle of one and said “Fuck this”. I texted J and said I’m booking a class.

It was time for me to stop saying I’m going to do something and actually do it. Life is short and I’m tired of setting aside my interests and dreams.

So I found the class I wanted and paid for it. It starts next month.

When Josh told me  today how proud of me he was for finally doing this, it made me tear up. It’s true, I don’t ever do anything for me. It was time.

I tweeted something today about taking my first class with Michelle’s company  and how excited and nauseous I was about it. A few hours later I saw that she came across it and told me not to worry I’ll be great. That made me smile like nothing else.

My goal is to get through the first course and keep going into the next, and the next.

I want to be up on that stage within a year with a company.

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