BurlyCon V: November 2012

Every year, strippers from all over the world come to BurlyCon with the hopes of meeting their heroes, learning a new technique or two, and having a 4-day slumber party. I feel like BurlyCon’s secret mission this year was that old adage: leave it better than you found it. This year, unlike all the other four years, it felt very different; it felt… more full of intention, I suppose. It felt like they set the intention to touch the hearts and souls of stripteasers, to create a global community that really does feel like community – shedding clothes and limitations alike. Perhaps this year was different because of the types of classes outside of the normal movement perspective offered – classes that delved deep behind the curtain, encouraging artists (who often have a lot of emotional stuff to deal with) to dig deeper.

Guest of honour Julie Atlas Muz teaching at BurlyCon 2012.  ©Don Spiro

Guest of honour Julie Atlas Muz teaching at BurlyCon 2012. ©Don Spiro

It was an honour to get to teach and sit on panels for my fifth year in a row. In previous years I have participated on the planning committee, but outside obligations have prevented me for the last two years. The staff for this huge event are family; mostly based in Seattle, they have meetings year-round and are constantly striving to not only improve the format, but improve the experiences of everyone involved. In this fifth year I have to say that they somehow made the Con more magical than it was before – and that’s saying a lot.

Not only will you see a burlesque superstar or two walking the halls – this year Dirty Martini and Julie Atlas Muz were two of the three guests of honour – but you also are in classes with LEGENDS, like Lottie the Body (guest of honour), Velvet Ice and Ellion Ness! These ladies’ legacies gave us the burlesque that we have today, and to share conversations and classes with them is worth the admission price alone. In one particularly riveting panel I attended, ‘Burlesque as a Spiritual Practice’, Velvet Ice articulated so many things that I have felt for so long and didn’t necessarily have the words for. Her thoughts and those of the others on the panel helped me recognise that the calling that I’ve felt is certainly one that others experience too, and we are a family.

Sydni Deveraux at BurlyCon 2012.  ©Don Spiro

Sydni Deveraux at BurlyCon 2012. ©Don Spiro

So many different types of classes are offered – costuming, movement, business, connection (with ourselves and our audiences), and panels on appropriation, bodies, spirituality, troupe management and travel; there’s really something for everyone. I was personally thrilled to see so much more representation of the minority contingency in burlesque. More men! And more performers of colour! It is such a gorgeous sight to behold.

I was humbled to be approached by so many different performers from all over the world talking to me about my blog; having a in-person connection with them made me feel like the contribution I have been making seem so very worth it. Meeting so many new people who have been moved by something that they’ve seen or read online really hits it home that our glittery world is getting stronger and more vibrant, and it makes me so happy for the future of burlesque.

Burlesque Legends Velvet Ice and Ellion Ness at BurlyCon 2012.  ©POC Photo

Burlesque Legends Velvet Ice and Ellion Ness at BurlyCon 2012. ©POC Photo

Though many performers come to BurlyCon all by themselves and have no issues making a new friend or two whether they’re shy or not, it can be nice to have a buddy or two to go to classes with or to swap notes with if you split your class load. The hospitality room always seemed to be abuzz with connections, with strippers pouring in and out with a new buddy to go to a class or go off alone for a more private conversation.

One of my absolute favourite moments from this year’s con was bringing healthy lunch to some of my favorite ladies; we all huddled around different salad options, cottage cheese, and quinoa on the floor of their hotel room talking about almost everything not to do with burlesque, which were the moments that make me fall in love with them all a little more. So many women with vibrant personalities: Kristina Nekyia’s devilish smile, Peekaboo Pointe’s easy charm, Alotta Boutte’s warm and frank observations, all while Cherry Typhoon is glamorously tying on her silk kimono for class. The life, I tell you! It’s moments like this that I treasure; I can’t wait to pack another stripper lunch next year!

A discussion panel at BurlyCon 2012.  ©Don Spiro

A discussion panel at BurlyCon 2012. ©Don Spiro

While every class that I attended was absolutely taught by magnetic and wonderful performers, I feel like the conference’s all-star instruction should go to Legs Malone and Kellita. These two women in particular are practitioners of LOVE. To love yourself is a gift that you can give to the world and especially your audience. Both Legs and Kellita’s classes did the work to help you access more of your potential. I especially loved ‘Clearing Blocks to Abundance’ by Legs, and ‘Tapping out fear, Tapping in Love’ with Kellita. No matter the level of performer (or human), we all have work to do, and it’s important that we do it in order to be stronger performers.

The vending rooms are easily the most dangerous places to visit, but the most fun, too! So many gorgeous bits: you can visit Get Juliet’s booth and commission a bikini made just for you, and Amber Ray’s hair flowers cover her table; you just want to roll in their tropical sparkliness. Across the way is Foxy Tann and her Honeybunny selling Hardcore Pasties – the most durable and easy to embellish pasties I have found yet! They were selling like hotcakes! If you plan on attending this next year, make sure to sock away a couple of extra dollars so that you won’t feel sad you had to leave that incredible tie from Haught Under the Collar stranded!

The record-setting fan dance at BurlyCon 2012.  ©POC Photo

The record-setting fan dance at BurlyCon 2012. ©POC Photo

It’s impossible to go to everything at BurlyCon, but I feel that I made the perfect choices for my attendance this year. At the incredible closing ceremony, led by the lovely Legs Malone, I feel full of hope for the evolving burlesque community that is being created, and full of appreciation that such an event exists for us all to attend.

I hope to see you all next year!

BurlyCon 2013 takes place in less than two weeks on November 7th – 10th. Visit the BurlyCon website and BE THERE!