With the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2017 only two weeks away, now is a good time to read or re-read this BHoF Survival Guide, written by the much loved and missed Sparkly Devil. With great care and respect, BHoF team member Kay Sera has contributed a few minor updates.
Click here to find out more about Sparkly Devil and the Memorial Scholarship set up in her honour, and at the end of the guide there is a link to Sparkly’s popular blog.
The BHoF Survival Guide
In just a few days, hundreds of performers and fans from across the globe will descend upon Las Vegas for the largest and oldest burlesque competition — which is also the primary fundraiser for the world’s ONLY non-profit museum dedicated to preserving the history of burlesque as an art form.
In addition to a reunion and four nights of jaw-dropping performances, there are daytime activities, group outings, pre-parties, after-parties, and hob-nobbing galore. This is one big crazy weekend overflowing with glitz, glam, glitter and sensory overload.
And although BHoF is a delight for the soul, it can also wreak havoc on your body. I’ve been going since 2003; and I still haven’t learned how to pack properly or bring the right shoes. However, here are a few bits of wisdom that I’ve accumulated over the years, which will hopefully guide you through the next few days, whether you’re a BHoF virgin or a veteran of Helendale.
No, seriously. Drink WAY more water than you think you need, all day, all night. Do not skimp on the water. Pretend you’re at Burning Man. Pee clear at all times.
Dehydration is the #1 cause of BHoF crankiness and exhaustion. It’s hot as hell in Vegas in June, you’re in the desert, and going from the pavement-melting indoors to the brisk chill of the A/C in the casino is going to affect you. Bling a water bottle, and carry it with you all day. If you’re drinking alcohol, have a glass of water in between each drink. Even if you’re not drinking alcohol, hit that H2O hard.
BRING COMFY SHOES
I CANNOT STRESS THIS ONE ENOUGH! I was publicly busted for flagrantly ignoring my own advice, and wound up paying the price dearly: I had to fill the tub in my room with ice and shove my feet in while howling in pain, for a few days in a row.
Here’s the thing: you’re either a foot sweller, or you’re not. If you’re a sweller, you probably already have an inclination: if you have trouble removing your rings after a tough workout or when you’re dehydrated, you’re a sweller. Add to that the combination of air travel + desert & dehydration + impractical heels, and you will wind up with the curse of Las Vegas Blimp Foot (or, as my husband lovingly calls them, Eggplant Feet.)
If you’re a sweller: bring kitten heels, open-toed shoes, strappy sandals made of stretchy material – anything that will accommodate for swelling. If you can stand it, give your feet daily ice baths (or just soak them in The Orleans pool first thing in the morning, which will be pretty much the same temperature.)
If you’re not a sweller: you’re still not scott-free! Don’t wind up with crippling foot pain or searing blisters; make sure you have moleskin and Dr. Scholl’s inserts on hand. And for cripes sake, don’t break in a new pair of shoes in Vegas!
MEET THE LEGENDS
Again, I can’t emphasize this enough! Seek out the legends and strike up a conversation. Offer to buy them a drink, a cup of coffee, or a meal. Some of them may be a little shy, just like you – so just introduce yourself with a big smile, tell them where you’re from, and ask them a question or two. This is your chance to hear the stories of how it used to be firsthand from the ladies who lived it. And you can learn a trick or two from them at the BHoF Finishing School classes, produced this year by BurlyCon.
SEE THE MUSEUM
The Shimmy Shuttle will bring you to the The Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum and back for a mere $12*. You must buy advance tickets, which you can do here. If there is a one must not miss off-site event of the weekend, it’s this. Remember the entire Weekender is the primary fundraiser for the museum, so this is why we’re all here, folks!
[UPDATE: Kay Sera] *The Shimmy Shuttle has become so popular that this year,it will run on Thursday, Friday AND Saturday, and includes a stop at Du Barry Fashions (included in Sparkly’s Shopping’ section, below). You’ll visit the museum’s temporary home in the Las Vegas Arts District AND will be the first to see the oh-so-close-to-ready NEW museum building! Round-trip tickets on the Shimmy Shuttle are $12 ($15 cash-only walk-up IF any seats are left).
TWEET IT UP
INSTAGRAM AND TWEET IT UP
UPDATE: Use the official hashtag of #BHoF17 and include @burlesquehall when Tweeting and Instagramming your adventures – this helps drive awareness for the museum, and your enthusiasm will be infectious!
BE KIND TO YOUR BODY
Take multi-vitamins daily, drink that water, and try to get a minimum of 5 hours of sleep a night.
If you’re a vegetarian, on a budget, a fussy eater or just not a fan of the buffet, you can rent a fridge from the Orleans and hit up the local grocery store for supplies. Alternately, you can grab a big styrofoam cooler from the liquor store around the corner and keep it filled with ice, for both your carrot sticks and your booze.
If you’re looking to exercise something other than the fortitude of your liver: there’s The Orleans gym, a 24-Hour Fitness down the road, and there are often “pop up” fitness and yoga classes run by other BHoF guests.
BHoF is notorious for the all-day-into-late-night parties; it’s tempting to go balls-out for the first day or two, but you don’t want to crash-and-burn by Saturday afternoon. It’s a mini-marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself, you’re in it for the long haul!
But if you don’t drink or recently stopped or are feeling a little out of control, don’t fret – you’re not alone! Plenty of people who go to BHoF don’t drink and have an amazing time. If you’d like to meet up with some of them, there will be daily on-site meetings for those in recovery or who just need a break from the booze. Follow @bhofbill on Twitter for more information or to connect any time you need it.
BOOK DATE TIME
If you’re travelling with your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse, make sure your S.O. is attended to and has what s/he needs to stay entertained and happy. Try to book something alone time for just the two of you, whether it’s watching the fountains at the Bellagio or enjoying a nice meal together away from the hustle & bustle of festival.
HIT THE STRIP
The Orleans offers a free shuttle to the Gold Coast Casino on the main drag of Las Vegas, known as “the Strip”. Here’s where you’ll find clusters of big casinos, tourist traps, mile-high plastic cups in silly shapes, and all of the other delightfully tacky glitz that Vegas is known for. Check out these free attractions for more great stuff to do and see that won’t cost you a dime.
Don’t forget to hit the BHoF Bazaar! Beyond that, if you’ve got the bling bug and you’re looking to get your shop on, here are a couple of great spots:
–Fantastik Indoor Swap Meet – Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 6pm. This isn’t a swap meet, but a huge indoor flea market that’s like heaven for drag queens and burlesque chicks. You’ll find $1 lashes, cheap hair flowers, wigs, sparkly heels, costume jewellery, dresses, knives, churros, and god knows what else. Get a group to share a cab over; be warned that it’s easy to catch a cab there, but pickup will take a lot longer, so keep that in mind if you need to be back at a specific time.
–Du Barry Fashions – [KS] This is where you can find the customised rhinestone name necklaces that now serve as the defacto BHoF nametag – and for even more rhinestoned bling, check out their store. It’s packed to the bursting point with costume jewellery, accessories and fabulousness. There’s also free music and champagne on Sundays.
[UPDATE: Kay Sera] Du Barry Fashions is a BHoF sponsor once again this year. The Shimmy Shuttle will include a stop at Du Barry Fashions, a bling-filled treasure trove, before heading to the Burlesque Hall of Fame museum. Please note: Du Barry no longer has a booth at Fantasik.
REMEMBER TO PACK
-Your ID! You need it to pick up your wristband!
-Lotion, moisturizer, chapstick, and talc free baby powder if you’re prone to chafing. You will feel like a lizard come Sunday.
-Sunscreen, parasols and floppy hats; shade is limited at The Orleans pool.
-Waterproof mascara & Kleenex for the Friday night Legends showcase. You will cry.
-Your business cards & flyers.
-Light cardigans and shawls to cover up in the cold casino.
If you’re performing during the weekend, you might be a little stressed. Or freaked out. Or you might be in full-blown meltdown mode….so just take a minute to breathe. It’s natural to be a little stressed out, so set aside some just-you time to unwind and relax before your performance: take a quiet bubble bath in your room, find a secluded part of the pool to get in some reading, or book some time at the spa. Remember, you’re here to have FUN, right? Just go with the flow, don’t sweat the little shit, slap on another layer of sparkle, and be fucking fabulous!