Monday, 13 February 2012

Lucy, Meet Trixie

I've made a lovely new friend at the sewing group, Lucy.  She and her family have returned to Britain after living abroad for several years.  She's really good company in spite of the fact that she has stolen my status as Youngest Member of the sewing group.  Lucy was pleased to hear that I knew about one of the local Women's Institute groups and we arranged for her to join Vivien and me for the next meeting. 

I didn't let on to Lucy what we'd be doing except that I said we did tend to do a lot of different things not necessarily related to knitting tea cozies (which Lucy does great already) or making jam (at which Vivien excels), neither of which I can do.  I just told her to wear clothes she could move around in.  I didn't know Lucy, mother of boys aged 9 and 15, well enough to be certain she wouldn't shy away if I told her our next WI meeting was going to be about learning how to do burlesque.

Having survived zumba, pilates and wine tasting, I figured the burlesque wouldn't be too risque.  We do meet in the parish church hall, after all.  Kristi, who's nickname is Trixie - professional name Trixie Blue - was lovely and friendly, a good representative of Etrois.   She gave us a brief lecture - consulting her laptop computer - on the history of burlesque from the Victorian era and explained that it was very much about caricature and making fun. 

We were taken through some dance steps.  She started out with various walks.  For example, "Titter-titter-titter-boo!" has one's arms straight at the sides, hands spread parallel to the floor.  Take quickly mincing steps to the beat of the first three words followed by kicking one foot behind on BOO!).  Then we did some arm movements.  The Venus move:  beginning a hip level, rub the backs of the hands up the sides of the body, while wiggling hips slowly.  Finish with extending one's arms up in a V.   After we learned 'Bite My Finger' Lucy remarked that she'd never look at a pair of gloves in the same way again.  

Trixie stressed that facial expressions, whether leering (she called it a 'cheeky face'), big winks, or sultry stares were very important for pulling off the burlesque.  Another approach is to look all wide-eyed and innocent, for example - (all at once!) pop up on tippy toe,  make very wide eyes and a round mouth, bring the fingers of both hands (elbows out) to cover the mouth and say OOOH!  Imagine a room of forty-some women aged mid-20s to maybe early 60s all engaged in looking and sounding shocked and astonished.   We laughed a lot during our lesson.

Then we all did a mini-routine in which I felt quite wooden (I think I'd need HRT to take up burlesque style dancing).  After our lesson and routine, we were treated to a very graceful demonstration of her art.  She explained that she normally stripped down to tassels, but for this occasion she was wearing a bra.  

I thought the comparison of her and the WI girl on the poster was too good to miss:  spot the hand on the hip, the sexy up-do hair, the made up wide eyes!  She might just be about to bite that spoon...  Naturally my photos of the early part of Trixie's dance didn't turn out well, but you can see her perform here

And to think I thought if I joined the Women's Institute,  I might learn a bit more about flower arranging, quilting and the like!


Anonymous said...

Oh I tried it once, it was a one to one lesson, oh cripes I am just too uptight, I squirmed non stop and the girl even went out and bought a bottle of wine and poured me a glass in the hope of loosing me up. It didn't work!

Suburban Princess said...

The name Trixie keeps popping up. I had a convo last week with a tweetie...telling her I had always wanted to be called Trixie!

Susan Tiner said...

I'm sure if I tried it I would have the same experience as Tabitha's. However, I can still Rock and Roll!

Beryl said...

Can I assume that HRT is some sort of cocktail? When I think of the Woman's Institute, I think of Hyacinth Bucket, but this is a little more in the vein of "Our Rose".

Shelley said...

Tabitha, I'm amazed to hear you were uptight! I didn't think I was, I just couldn't get into this.

Susan, Like you I can still rock and roll! It comes far more naturally and I think it's loads more fun!

SP, Did you ever encounter Trixie Belden novels? I had the whole set as a kid - and then gave them all away. I was obsessed, and then I was over it. Rather strange for me.

Beryl, You do crack me up. HRT stands for Hormone Replacement Therapy! I looked up Hyacinth to make sure I understood the reference (I know of, but have never watched Keeping Up Appearances, however Bill can't tell me about 'Our Rose'. The only thing that comes to mind is Gypsy Rose Lee. Is that what you meant? And yes, this is probably a little out of the ordinary for the WI, then again did you never see the movie Calendar Girls? There is a book by the same title written by Helen Mirren's character if you prefer books... I suppose a cocktail might have done the trick for me, though it didn't help Tabitha much. I don't know if I felt wooden because I didn't care for the music, because my muscles weren't warm enough to move, because I had on the wrong clothes or because I don't see myself as a seductress - comic or not. Still, I don't regret having a burlesque lesson! All part of being open to new experiences...

Carolyn said...

Oo la la! Well, it sounds like you all had loads of fun! I can just imagine the laughs!

Anonymous said...

This sounds like such a FUN get-together. There are 2 or 3 bloggers in my circle whom I'm convinced have had burlesque training. So did you share any of your new "skills" at home?

Anonymous said...

That sounds a lot more interesting than the sorts of ladies' events that my mom was involved in at our church!

Sounds fun, and educational.

Shelley said...

Carolyn, It's really good for me to laugh - I don't do that nearly enough these days. I seem to get serious-er and serious-er.

Terri, How can you tell they've done burlesque through the internet?? And, in a word, no.

Ilegirl, Funny enough, the next day at sewing, Lucy expressed the opinion that girls should all take these lessons as a form of assertiveness training. I could see her point, but I don't think that idea would go over well in the States!

BigLittleWolf said...

Burlesque! What fun! Great on so many levels. (Nothing like moving your body to feel good, and moving your body to encourage those we love to feel good...)

This post made me smile.

Shelley said...

BLW, I don't move my body near enough these days. Miss my stretching and strength building moves. Must get back to yoga... So pleased the post made you smile!