A Showgirl Diary: BurlyCon 2015 Part 2

So in the first installment of this diary I told you all about my planning process for BurlyCon. In this one I will tell you a bit about my first two days.

Unlike many of the people I met, I had always planned on attending the entirety of the event, which meant being there for check in at 10:00 Thursday morning, and staying until the evening on Sunday. Since the hotel had a check in of 3:00 PM, to me, this meant I had to book the room for Wednesday night. Besides, with my anxiety, I figured it was a good idea to have one night to adapt to my surroundings and get settled before jumping feet first into my classes on Thursday. Traveling alone was hard, as it always is, but I made it through the flight and got to the hotel easily enough. The hotel is not the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at, it was very standard, but I appreciated that it had a fridge in it, since food is not provided by the Con and I was on a budget. My one frustration with the room was that I had reserved a microwave for my room online before arriving, and when I arrived, there wasn’t one. When I inquired at the front desk, they told me they were out of microwaves. So lesson learned, definitely confirm the microwave reservation well in advance and pitch a fit if it isn’t there right when you arrive (I waited until the next day because I was bushed). They allowed me to get dishes and silverware from the restaurant for free, so packing shelf stable foods that can be microwaved or made with boiling water can really make life easier. Plus, they’re consumable, so you have space for merch on the return trip!

When you’re traveling to Seattle from Michigan, there is a three hour time change. What I discovered was that even though I was totally exhausted from traveling and I had forced myself to stay up late to try to adjust that first night, I still woke up at 5:00 AM local time and had a hell of a time getting back to sleep. On the plus side, this meant I got to call home and talk to my daughter before she left for school, but it made that 10:00 AM registration time seem pretty late in the day. When I did finally get to registration, the line wasn’t long, and those ahead of me seemed to get through quickly. I always have to be the odd one out though. I got to spend a good chunk of time at the registration desk because they were having trouble finding a record of my pass purchase. Eventually they just handed me my badge (that they could find), and sent me on my way. The volunteers were working really hard, and kudos to them for their patience.
Vending didn’t open until noon (actually a little after), but when it did, WOW! That is some overwhelming stuff. I managed to walk through without buying anything for myself once, and then walked through about a billion more times over the next few days, making small purchases for myself almost every day. I loved some of the bigger things as well, but many of them were too small for me. I did take lots of notes of costuming ideas from some of the vendors techniques though, and also grabbed business cards from everyone who does custom work.

First Class Session
Classes Available: The Art of the Performer Bio, Tips and Tricks for Troupe Management, Love Your Venue So Your Venue Will Love You Back, Tassel Twirling, Showgirl Awakening Samba, A Sparkle Addicts Guide to Rhinestones, The Art of Producing, Iva Handfull of Fans, Guided Meditation and Intention Setting
What I Took: The Art of the Performer Bio with Sailor St. Claire
Boy, choosing which classes to take is probably one of the very hardest things about attending BurlyCon. This was one of the easier sessions to decide on, but overall it was hard stuff. I would have taken any of the classes in this session (except maybe Guided Meditation and Intention Setting…meditation makes me anxious rather than calming me). Ultimately I had to decide what my priorities were as far as learning. What was I going to get the most out of? I approached each session with the idea that what I needed to work on most was upping my choreography and costuming game, with an emphasis on really identifying my “brand” and who I am as a performer. I’m not a producer, I’m not a troupe manager (I just happen to be in a troupe), I’m not a host. Focus on what I can take with me and apply RIGHT NOW, this instant. With that in mind, I narrowed down the classes I really wanted to take in this session to The Art of the Performer Bio, Tassel Twirling, Showgirl Awakening Samba, A Sparkle Addicts Guide to Rhinestones, and Iva Handfull of Fans. I eliminated the fan class right away because it required that you bring your own fans, and I don’t have any. On top of that, while I would love to do a fan dance some day, it’s not something I need right now. I eliminated the Samba class because it seemed like just another dance class in the description and I am a little challenged by Latin dance movements, so I didn’t want that to be my first class. I know it’s blasphemy, but I’m not a complete sparkle addict when it comes to my costuming, so I eliminated the rhinestone class too. Eventually I chose The Art of the Performer Bio because I felt like it would be a good little beginner “here’s who I am” class to take. I struggle with writing bios for myself effectively and figured I could use some tips. The class was really good. Sailor St. Claire is a teacher in muggle life, and you could really tell. She was very direct with what she wanted to teach, and it was very helpful. I’m not sure I can say that I learned a lot, but it was great for making me feel validated as far as what I already knew and making me braver about writing my bios for myself. Don’t get me wrong though, if I didn’t learn anything new, it is through no fault of hers, the class was very good, and I liked very much that she wasn’t wish-washy about what your goals should be (statements like “this should contain 30 words or less” rather than “it should be short” are extremely helpful for me). It was a good first class to get my feet wet and feel like maybe I do know what I’m doing a little.

Second Class Session
Classes Available: Coming Out to Parents and Family Members Roundtable, Tapping out Fear, Tapping in Love Part 1, Jetsetters Survival Skills, Elements, And a Torso Even More So, It’s a Cinch! A Discourse in Corsets, Risque Rhythms, The MIXXX 101-Beginning Audio Engineering, Oh how I love you! Connecting with the Audience, How to Let Go of What You Can’t Control
What I Took: Oh how I love you! Connecting with the Audience with Darlinda Just Darlinda
See what I mean? Look at those class titles and tell me you wouldn’t have trouble choosing just one to take! I didn’t go to any Roundtables this year, just because I really wanted to focus on learning, so I eliminated all of those right off the bat. But oh man, I wanted to take at least six of these! It was so hard to choose! Eventually I ended up choosing the audience class because I feel like I’m always having to remind myself to really give of myself when I’m performing, rather than living in my own little bubble when on stage. It turned out to be a good choice. While the class was a little meditation heavy (see above when I say that meditation makes me really anxious), the exercises we did as well as the specific tips she gave us were extremely helpful and eye opening. Was it a life-changing class? No, but I definitely got something out of it, and it was a valuable experience. Besides, I so admire Darlinda and am glad I got the chance to learn from her.

Third Class Session
Classes Available: The Art of Critique; Peer Review Technique, Dada Issues: Absurdity and Surrealism, Tax Prep for Artists, Costume Courting, Prop-Tastik!, Strike a Pose, Fit & Bendy Flex
What I Took: Prop-Tastik! with Minnie Tonka and Ophelia Flame
This one was a little easier to choose. While I was interested in several of these, Prop-Tastik! was the only prop class offered over the weekend, and I know that I really struggle with props. This was another class where I didn’t feel like it was particularly life-changing, but they gave really lovely examples of props done well, as well as some examples of props done not so well. A lot of the points that they made about working with props made a LOT of sense to me and really made me think hard about how I’m using props in my acts. The big takeaway for me was that your prop should add to your act and should be special. If it isn’t special, why should the audience be looking at it? The only criticism I have of the class is that I really wished they had addressed construction more. Or maybe there should be a prop construction class added to the roster. I would really dig a class where they talked about the pros/cons of certain prop-making materials and adhesives, etc.

Evening Events
Newbies Caucus
I was so nervous to attend this caucus! It was supposed to be for those new to BurlyCon as well as those in their first few years of performing. I qualified as both of those things, so I went. It was actually very nice, and I met someone there that I can call my new burlesque friend, as we were then in several classes together over the weekend. Her name is Just Ducky, she’s based in Seattle, and you should go check her out! It was nice to reinforce the idea that I wasn’t alone, especially since I didn’t know anyone there at all.

Vintage Meet & Greet
Especially with it being the first night, this event was a bit awkward for me. I did manage to meet some lovely people (a few originally from Michigan!), and the music was fun, but I was still struggling to get my bearings in the sea of strangers and many of the people there seemed to be getting REacquainted rather than just acquainted. It can certainly be hard to really mingle when you have nobody to seek out and talk to.

Peer Reviews
Once I was finished at the meet and greet I headed over to the peer reviews to check it out and see what they were like. The acts were very good, but I could see similarities with where I am as a performer and where the presenters were, which was so reassuring. If everyone had been lightyears ahead of me, I would have been so downtrodden and scared out of my wits to come back and perform. It’s so wonderful that they do these peer reviews. It is so helpful to watch an act and then listen as they get constructive feedback. Just watching and listening gave me so many things that I know I can work on with my own acts. I got to see my new friend Just Ducky do her act, and it was absolutely adorable. I didn’t stay for all of the reviews (only half) because I was so tired, having gotten up at 5:00 AM that I was falling asleep in my chair, which would have been a bit rude, to say the least. So I went back to the room and had a good long sleep.

Next up: Day Two

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