A Showgirl Diary: BurlyCon 2015 Part 3

Burlycon Class Photo 2015

So, on to day two of the convention (Burlycon), Friday. Looking at my schedule for that day, it’s hard to believe that I took a class in every session!


First Class Session
Classes Available: Costuming for EveryBody, Technology Solutions for Producers, Compose Yourself, Burlesque Bra on a Budget
What I Took: Burlesque Bra on a Budget with Sugar Shagmore
With fewer classes offered in this session, that made it a little easier for me to choose my class that morning, but right up until I walked in I was debating as to whether I should take this class or Costuming for EveryBody, which was supposed to focus specifically on costuming for us plus sized girls who can’t just buy things that fit off the rack. I decided on Sugar’s bra class for a few reasons. For one, as a size 16 with size H cup breasts, I have found that not only can I not wear standard off the rack costumes, but the plus sized costumes and techniques aren’t necessarily ideal for me either. I felt like the bra class might be a bit more universal, and boy am I glad that that’s what I went with! Even with my sewing experience, I’ve been a bit anxious and afraid to really up my bra design game. I see so many lovely things out there, but feel completely overwhelmed when trying to replicate them. Not only did Sugar give us about a million little tips and techniques that were absolutely invaluable (and involved essentially no hot glue), but everything she said made complete sense. To be able to completely transform a cheap bra into something amazing, I know how now, and I have Sugar to thank. In the past, whenever I looked at people’s work, I would feel completely overwhelmed (how do they even come up with that?), now I feel like I can break down a bra design into simple steps that make sense. Now I just have to build up a bit more of a trim stash using some of her tips for finding inexpensive embellishments! This class was the true beginning of my mind being blown at Burlycon.

Second Class Session
Classes Available: Hosting Fundamentals, Burlesque Comedy, Rocking Corporate Events and Private Gigs, Gloves & Stockings Basics & Beyond, Structured Playtime, FAN-tastic Feathers, Risque Rhythms, Tapping out Fear Tapping in Love Part 2
What I Took: FAN-tastic Feathers with Beau Bordello
I’m torn about what to say about this class. While I did learn a lot (I knew basically nothing about constructing fans going in), it was not my favorite class. It was incredibly full…the class was completely packed, and they weren’t the best behaved students. Beau was knowledgeable and helpful, but you could tell that she isn’t a teacher by trade and she had trouble keeping control over the class, who talked over her often, interrupted, contradicted, and forced her off track. For those of us who were really there to absorb what she had to say (if you don’t agree or have a better way, just take what you can use and leave the rest…or if you feel the need to point it out, at least do so respectfully), it was frustrating to say the least. I really felt like this class specifically would have benefited from a cap on the number of people who could attend. All of that said, the information was great. She gave us great pointers I had never heard for designing our own staves, attaching feathers to staves, as well as choosing the correct feathers. It gave me a lot to think about if I ever do decide to do a fan dance or make my own fans.

Keynote Address/Lunch Break
I never know what to think about keynote addresses. At previous events I’ve attended that had them, I was often bored and confused. While that was not the case this time, there were parts I really enjoyed. It was actually pretty great to hear from all the speakers. The only part when I wasn’t absolutely transfixed was a lot of the self-congratulatory stuff that always happens with everyone giving credit to the committee and volunteers. Now that I’ve attended, I think I would have been more receptive to that, but it happened so early in my experience (before I’d really experienced what these people they were thanking were actually doing), that I just sat and clapped. Afterwards I went down to hospitality and grabbed myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. I had to keep reminding myself to eat all weekend, and with my microwave having gone AWOL, I was grateful for the hospitality room.

Third Class Session
Classes Available: Growing up in an Appalachian Matriarchy, Teaching for Teachers, Sass and Play Cabaret Dance, Take a Seat, Taffeta Darling! Choosing the Right Fabric, Classic Versus Innovative: A False Dichotomy, Big Bad Fan Dance
What I Took: Take a Seat with Ophelia Flame
This class was so great for me. I’ve done chair dances before, both in burlesque and when I was younger in performances for the dance classes I was taking. If there’s one thing I learned about choreography during this whole long weekend of classes, it’s that whether you’re improvising your choreography or doing it all ahead of time, it is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly in order to work properly. So much of what we did in this chair class were things I had done before, but forgotten about. Things that I had come up with on my own just playing around on a chair as a teenager but would never have occurred to me now, with all the other things weighing on my brain. This class, in combination with Coco Lectric’s Big Bad Boa class (more about that to come), really convinced me that I need to clear time in my schedule to just play with props and ideas…just dance around my house playing with my props and my own body to figure out new and different ways of moving, or discovering old ways I’ve forgotten about. On top of all that Ophelia is an absolute inspiration as a movement teacher. I wish I lived nearer to Minneapolis so that I could take classes from her more often. Those of you who live there (I don’t think I actually have any blog readers there, but if I do) absolutely should look up her classes and take them ALL. You won’t regret it.

Another from my chair class, Take a Seat. Such a great group!

A photo posted by Ophelia Flame (@opheliaflame) on

Fourth Class Session
Classes Available: So You Think You Can Host?, Teasing Theories, Tango Cabaret Tease, Work Your Showgirl Heels, Easy Tricks for Costuming, My Life, Buti Yoga, Big Bodied Burlesque Community
What I Took: Easy Tricks for Costuming with Bic Carrol
Easily one of the best classes I took all weekend, with one of the best, most knowledgeable, and funniest teachers. Bic, I think I’m in love with you. During the course of this class, as well as the other one I took from him, he completely turned my ideas and thinking about classic burlesque costuming upside down. It’s hard when costuming for my types of acts, because there are no real tutorials or instructions from the old masters anywhere to follow, so you’re stuck sort of trying to figure it out on your own. Bic reminded me in this class how absolutely invaluable it is to have one of those masters right in front of you, telling you the simplest little things that might not have occurred to you if you were trying to replicate an idea or design with only photos to guide you. Not only did I get to trace a gown pattern from him, I took more small notes in that class that I can apply to literally EVERY SINGLE COSTUME I ever make than I can even communicate to you. At the end of this class, I wanted to hug him, laugh, cry, and take him with me everywhere I go. What an amazing human being.

Fifth Class Session
Classes Available: You Tease, Keeping Your Books, On the Road Again, Vogue 101, #pussymagic, Beyond Hot Glue & Desperation, To Live Long and Prosper: Expanding Nerdlesque, Maximizing Your Onstage Presence, Sizzling Samba Choreography
What I Took: Maximizing Your Onstage Presence with Waxie Moon
Along with Bic Carrol, Ophelia Flame, Midnite Martini, and Coco Lectric, Waxie Moon gets the distinction of being one of the instructors that I took multiple classes from over the course of the weekend, and whom I would recommend taking classes from to basically everyone I know. Being in this class for me was a bit like I imagine being a believer in a revival tent would be like, or joining a cult. Waxie’s demonstrations didn’t seem like they would really work (especially for me, a new age skeptic who absolutely cannot stand meditation), and when they did, imagine my shock and surprise. His guidance was fantastic, and it absolutely helps that his voice is so measured and soothing. I feel like I could do anything and take any criticism if it was Waxie giving me the feedback. He is exactly the style of teacher that if someone had described this class to me and I hadn’t been there, I would have sneered and rolled my eyes. Having been there, consider me converted to the church of Waxie Moon. He can be my burlesque prophet, I’ll drink that Kool-Aid. This class was mind-blowing, life-changing, and if it’s offered again, you should take it.

Sixth Class Session
Classes Available: How to Manage Social Media Like a Boss, Put Your Best Foot Forward, Classic Burlesque for Beginners, Storm of Silk: Intermediate Silk Fan Technique, Creative Costuming, Promo Pix from Both Sides of the Camera, Tiger & the Lamb: Burlesque Archetypes
What I Took: Classic Burlesque for Beginners with Coco Lectric
Coco, you divine creature! I have watched what seems like endless videos of classic burlesque. I’ve read books, I’ve taken classes. Coco’s class was absolutely fabulous. She corrected and validated things I had already learned and knew, and also managed to throw in lots of new things. I learned a lot, but as in many of my movement classes (especially Coco’s Big Bad Boa class), you can’t take notes when you’re dancing, and I feel like I’ve already forgotten a lot of what I learned from her. This is one of the classes I would consider taking a second time. Here’s hoping I internalized enough of it that I will remember as I’m working on choreography!

Burlycon Class Photo 2015Class Photo/Mystical Menagerie Dance
So many people in one photo! I’m not sure how many people actually participated, but there were more than 600 attendees at this year’s BurlyCon, and there are a LOT of people in this photo. Luckily I managed to find myself a spot where I can actually identify myself. What a fantastic memento of our time together! After we took the class photo (which took a long time, as you might imagine), was the dance. I’ve always felt awkward at dances, even when I was in school and I knew people. I always relied on whatever boy I was dating at the time to get me out on the floor and have a good time. For someone who loves to dance, dances themselves are a bit awkward for me. This was especially true at this event, because I didn’t know anyone. A few times I found myself being that awkward person glued to one person’s side because I didn’t know what to do or who to talk to. In this case, that person was my roommate Tito Bonito, who didn’t seem to take offense (sorry if I was too clingy Tito!). I didn’t stay too incredibly long anyway, as I wanted to get to bed so that I was sure to make my early class session the next day!

Next up, Saturday…

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