Now that I’ve had time to reflect, I want to tell you about Lemon Tart‘s first EVER solo burlesque performance, which took place at the Jazzesque Showcase in the Buyers Club, Liverpool.
Being a writer by trade, I’m big on burlesque which demonstrates strong storytelling. For me, an act needs specific plot points which extend beyond ‘remove gloves/dress/bra’. No matter how visually pleasing the performer, I will inevitably get bored without a quirky story and a few laughs.
I started toying with the idea for my act back in August. A lifelong fan of fairies, I’d lusted over an extremely pricey pair of fairy wings at Green Man festival and after a few too many shots I finally caved. It was the perfect excuse!
I sat in my tent mulling it over with my friend Jonny, who suggested the song ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ by Björk – GENIUS. An idea was born. Wouldn’t it be great if the tooth fairy fell in love?
I hadn’t shown my act to a soul before the big night, which I predicted would be a grave mistake. Although I’m reasonably confident in my acting skills and comedic ideas, the thought of showing anyone whilst not onstage made my blood run cold. My fruity sister Little Peaches got a sneak peek that very morning, but as predicted, I fell to pieces.
There was just one thing for it – I would hope for the best.
Being first and foremost a comedy writer, humour was a must.
On the big night my pal Mike stepped in (i.e. was bullied into) the role of a bloke suffering from toothache. He did a fantastic job of setting the scene by wandering onstage gesturing at his toothache, before knocking himself out cold with paracetamol and wine.
To make the tooth fairy suited to an adult audience, I wandered onstage drunk (partly acting, partly thanks to three glasses of wine for courage), clutching a bottle of 22% alc. Listerine.
Other props included a giant sparkly tooth brush I used as a magic wand, and chocolate coins to chuck into the audience.
During the act I became flustered and forgot SO MANY THINGS. My timing went to hell, and I was so eager to do my big reveal – teeth falling out of my bra – that I whipped it off far too early – WHY ARE YOU TAKING YOUR BRA OFF PUT IT BACK ON RIGHT NOW!!?!!
Yep, things went wrong. But you know what? I bloody did it.
I got on that stage and I carried on until the end. My bra didn’t get caught in my hair, I didn’t slip on my skirt. The audience pissed themselves when I used a white g-string to floss my teeth (and other regions). I came alive on that stage.
Afterwards, I was still shaking as strangers congratulated me. One person said she really appreciated the small touches – glitter “fairy dust” falling out of my opera gloves – which meant a lot.
It was only later that I realised I FORGOT MY BLOODY FAIRY WINGS. Raging!
There are plenty of things I can improve for next time, but I’m proud that as someone with such low confidence I actually did it. It felt great standing up there practically in the nuddy, proving that women of all shapes and sizes can be creative, witty and beautiful.
I feel for all these tourists, because there’s so much more to Llanberis than a big rock. So, to make life easier for those of you visiting Wales, I’ve compiled a selection of my favourite and vaguely alternative things to do in Llanberis.
My boyfriend had never been to Llanberis, so our recent visit began at legendary greasy spoon Pete’s Eats.
Pete’s is always packed full of travellers, all of whom look like they deserve a 2000 calorie breakfast. We, on the other hand, did not.
With our bellies full, it was time to do some exercise. Maybe.
Go on – show me an English high street with better views.
But first, we popped in to The Snowdon Honey Farm & Winery. It’s run by a lovely old Welsh couple who let us sample various alcoholic concoctions, fuelling us for our mission to the waterfall.
Having visited Llanberis countless times, I decided this was the day I would finally find the waterfall. I failed, again – even by following the ‘waterfall’ signs – and ended up walking along the train track instead (not advisable).
Down at the lake i.e. Llyn Padarn, you can hire a row boat for about 6 quid, or take the Llanberis Lake Railway around it. You can even get in the water for a kayaking lesson, among other water sports.
If you want to experience a mountain without having to actually climb one, you can take a bus deep inside the Electric Mountain, which my mum assures me is brilliant and cracking value at £8.50 per adult.
There are plenty of things to do for free in Llanberis, too, my favourite being feeding the ducks.
Walking to the other side of the lake you’ll pass my favourite spot, Dolbadarn Castle. I camped and got steaming drunk here last summer, and it’s the best place to watch the sunset from.
Once you’ve hit the other side of the lake, there’s a cluster of attractions to keep you occupied. The National Slate Museum is actually better than it sounds, whilst the Quarry Hospital Museum is also interesting, housing some of the original equipment from the 1800s (I like to play dead in the mortuary).
Another of my favourite spots is the Vivian Dive Centre, best visited at sunset when you have the entire hidden lake to yourself. The water is so blue it looks like a tropical lagoon. It’s worth noting that although anyone is free to enter, this lake is bloody deep so don’t be doing anything stupid like jumping in (although cliff diving is popular).
Right next to the dive centre is this spot:
Climb right to the top of the tracks and you’ll find spectacular views from the Dinorwic Quarray and buildings and machinery from bygone days.
Though not to everyone’s taste, I’ve saved my favourite ’til last. Located up in another quarry on the outskirts of Llanberis, near the Siemens factory, is an abandoned WW2 bomb store. It took us three attempts to find the place, which involves crawling through fences and various downright dangerous misdemeanours. It’s one of my most beloved spots.
There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, including the interior, made possible be whoever keeps forcing the door open with an angle grinder (cheers). It isn’t for the faint-hearted: take torches, because you won’t see a hand in front of your face otherwise.
Of course, this adventure technically involves trespassing. However, local kids and urban explorers have been visiting for years. If you’d rather let someone else do the dirty work, you’ll find plenty of reports and photos here.
I would recommend staying a couple of days in Llanberis, maybe at the hostel above Pete’s Eats or The Heights bunkhouse, which is a great spot to chill with a beer after a long day.
The main thing I would say is to explore. Ignore all the advice I’ve just given you and do your own thing. Follow your nose, and you’ll find the lush picnicking spots Trip Advisor won’t tell you about.
What are your favourite things to do in Llanberis? Have I missed anything out? And most importantly, have you found the secret lake? Let me know in the comment section!
It’s only Wednesday, but this week has already been pretty rough. A lot happened on Sunday, and the memories have been making me feel sick with shame ever since. I’m finding it impossible to talk about with anyone, so perhaps articulating those thoughts in this blog will prove cathartic.
Although I’ve been pretty darn happy lately, I’ve also started to feel like a failure. I’m experiencing doubt in my abilities as a writer, and having recently graduated, each job rejection is a blow to my self-esteem.
Sunday was a culmination of self loathing caused by career and relationship worries, and lack of medication for a couple of days (which causes insomnia, which never helps my state of mind).
On Sunday afternoon a friend encouraged me to take a walk. I wandered down to the docks, next to the River Mersey. Water always gives me a sense of peace, and growing up on an island, I always had easy access to it if I needed to blow off steam.
When I’m down, it’s a comfort to know I can end it if I choose to. I never would, but sitting near the ocean, or walking over the 100ft bride in my Welsh hometown is like a backup plan if it ever gets too much.
Next to the Mersey I jumped the railing, just to get that little closer to the water. I didn’t want to sit on a bench, with strangers walking right by me. I wanted to be alone. There was a little gate, with stairs leading down to the water.
I sat on the stairs, huddled against the wall and rocking back and forth. A jet ski kept whizzing by as if it were looking for something.
A security guard appeared, followed by two more. I broke down, frozen to the spot for a few minutes, before announcing I was going home. They muttered into their walkie-talkies, watching until I was out of sight.
I sat under a tree next to the big wheel to compose myself. Two police vans waited nearby, but I told myself I was being paranoid.
I didn’t even notice two policemen, then three, surround me. I hyperventilated. Why wouldn’t they go away?
They lead me to a police van and I calculated whether I could outrun them. Even in that state, I still cared very much what all the tourists watching thought of me.
One policeman was kind, and told me a story about a colleague who had had mental health problems.
The other said I was giving him attitude because I wouldn’t state my name. I eventually admitted I was just tired and not feeling myself, probably from lack of meds. His response was ‘but WHY would you not take them when they make you better?’ He was impatient and couldn’t fathom why I would make everybody’s lives more difficult.
It took a long time to convince me to willingly go to the hospital, as opposed to being sectioned.
Being escorted by police through the hospital was the most humiliating moment of my life.
My friend Justine came. I had calmed down a lot by the time she arrived, and the crisis team were happy to let me leave. Justine fed me pasta with avocado and we watched girly TV.
My beautiful, amazing boyfriend abandoned his weekend trip a day early, despite my telling him not to. I feel terrible about it, but seeing him walk through the gate at the train station meant the whole world to me. I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have someone who doesn’t walk away from me at my worst.
I used to have a schizophrenic friend who would skip his medication at regular intervals, and I would wonder exactly what that policeman had wandered.
So, here are my reasons:
The conviction that I’m suddenly cured.
2. Feeling so good, you wonder whether there was anything wrong in the first place. Maybe I imagined the whole thing? Did I even deserve those uni extensions? What if I needlessly wasted 12 days on a psychiatric unit whilst someone else was busy topping themselves? Better check, just in case!
3. Exhaustion. It’s hard to express just how zonked I feel a lot of the time. Although medication has been a blessing – when I’m taking them and stable, I’m the me I was always meant to be – they also take a lot out of me. I’m still exhausted after a 10 hour sleep, and it takes HOURS to wake up because my mind is so foggy.
So, this week has been a bit crap. I feel fragile. I missed deadlines writing for a digital content agency I’ve only just begun work for – something the regular me would never do. I’m mortified that I effectively got fired for the one thing I’m supposed to be good at.
BPD often feels like taking one step forward and two steps back.
I often convince myself that people only like the medicated part of me. They don’t like ME, only the edited version they think they know.
So what’s the point of anything? Nobody REALLY loves me, so nothing really matters.
Obviously in a good state of mind I know this isn’t true, but in my own little world, I believe the harsh thoughts.
So it’s been an eventful week. I’m still a bit shaken and need time to process, but as usual – I’ll be okay soon.
The place appeared to have been abandoned around Christmas time, with broken decorations scattered about.
The manager’s house was on-site, but we didn’t get many photos in the darkness; here’s a record of someone else’s visit. Phill showed me a photo from a previous visit which quite clearly shows a human silhouette and proper gave me the heebie jeebies.
According to Phill, the place had deteriorated a lot since that previous visit; copper piping ripped out, no fish left in the pond. I found this video of it in a previous life.
Next we found a bar-hotel which had only been abandoned a year or two. We had a good explore around the exterior, but climbing up the fire escape we seemed to trigger a motion sensor and had to scarper.
Next, Phill wanted to check out this cottage along his daily commute he’d been keeping an eye on it for several months. We didn’t attempt to get inside. Isn’t it pretty even in this condition?
Another location he’d previously visited was Daresbury Hall, a former Georgian country house in the home village of Lewis Carroll. During the second world war it was used as a military hospital, and then by a charity (now known as Scope) as a residential home for the handicapped.
It had recently been ruined in a fire (STOP BURNING STUFF, FUCKWITS), so here are photos from his previous visit:
We didn’t spend much time at the hospital, which had two security guards’ offices attached. We didn’t even see security guards, never mind have to outrun them!
On the hospital grounds, a huge home had been semi-built on the sly by the dealers. According to Phill, the previous security guard had been in on the farm and alerted the family to a raid, who were able to slip out and never identified.
It was too dark in there to bother taking many pictures, but believe us that no expense had been spared. Sauna… Dressing room… Marble… Elevated beds to make the most of countryside views…
Here are pics Phill took on a previous visit:
Hopping over fences on our way back to the car, we unexpectedly came across a series of miniature train tracks:
I would love to hear about your adventures in the comment section. In the meantime, you can follow our adventures on Phill’s Instagram.
Every single person I know who had been to Festival No.6 had unwavering opinions of it being an incredible weekend. Based in the Italian-style tourist village of Portmeirion on the north Wales coast, organisers promised it to be the best festival location on earth. I’d somehow neglected to visit in my 24 years of living fairly locally I and was very, very excited.
Anyway, back to the beginning. The shuttle service from Bangor was £10 EACH WAY. Y’what mate? We split a taxi with several other savvy party people, which at £70 still worked out cheaper, and the driver happily stopped off at Maccies. Belter.
On arrival at Portmeirion I was blown away. These photos really don’t do the view justice:
It was all a bit downhill from there, really.
By Welsh standards, the rain wasn’t that bad. “Adverse”, No.6 later called it. Usually I’m pretty well prepared for festivals. I had glitter, wings and fairy lights (why aren’t Pimp My Tent competitions a thing?) but I’d forgotten wellies and waterproofs. Big, BIG mistake.
There’s a general consensus among bloggers that you should only say nice things, because who will risk inviting you to review events or beauty products for free otherwise?! But basically I’m not a kiss arse, so there.
Festival organisers treated this wet thing falling from the sky as if they had never encountered it before. Every single festival I have ever been to has laid down hay, gravel, bark chippings or steel sheets to ease walking, but inexplicably, they failed to do this.
The campsite in particular became a swamp, as did the main arena. I fell down several times, and as har har lol as it was the first and fifth time, wading through mud that deep is exhausting and also dangerous.
Word came that the park & ride had flooded, leaving vehicles submerged. Local farmers – apparently not “employed” as No.6 claimed, but voluntarily – used their tractors to drag cars out, many of which were later written off.
Did I mention that organisers inexplicably chose a flood plain as the location of the park & ride? In a statement, they claimed that ‘although showers were forecast, there were no advance or flood warnings…’ Did you not just use your noggins?
Unhappy campers even created a Facebook page to air their grievances.
By Saturday, I was cold, wet and on the verge of abandoning ship and swimming home. To make matters worse, Lucy made me watch the Kaiser Chiefs.
But then a guardian angel in the form of a family friend showed up with fancy woolly socks, wellies, AND waterproofs for me. But oh no, she did one better. She drove us to her mother’s house, where we showered and dried our clothes and I wore Nain’s dressing gown. I felt like a new woman!
Back at the festival I remembered that the world record for cracker-eating is two in one minute, and because we just happened to have access to crackers we attempted this record, and failed. Unfortunately there are no photos for your viewing pleasure, but here’s me blowing up Lucy’s mattress instead.
Wandering between the late-night tents alone, I met who I came to think of as my “festival boyfriend” during a Craig Charles Funk & Soul set. I asked whether he fancied a snog, and the rest is history.
Unfortunately, another criticism is that there were too many damn people, with an additional 5000 tickets reportedly sold. We became lodged at a key entry point between the main arena and Portmeirion village for 20 minutes. How much would a metal barrier to separate those going in and out have cost?! Meanwhile, the village itself was so rammed, we didn’t actually go inside any of the venues because it was such a faff.
The best area of the festival for me was the woods, with its various folk and dance oriented stages such as Audio Farm and Gottwood. Popular with the younger crowd, it was unfortunately closed at 8pm each night supposedly to stop people drowning in the lake and whatnot.
The woods are the best part of festivals – there’s nothing better than sitting under a tree with your new mate and sharing a bottle of straight vodka to minimise the need for toilet breaks – and I reckon closing before dark is a right mistake. If organisers invested in staff to keep everybody safe and lights to make the place snazzy, it’d be spectacular.
Wander through the woods long enough and you’ll access the cliffs. I’ve always thought Porthmadog was a bit of a dump but we spent a long time just taking in the views. In the forest we bumped into one of the London poshos from the taxi, high as a kite, who told the festival boyfriend that I was a wonderful woman who he should treasure forever.
The highlight of my weekend was watching Noel Gallagher with the boy, singing our hearts out to Half the World Away in the pouring rain. I’ve always been team Blur, but it was honestly a magical experience destined for the memory bank. Oh, and he was joined by Paul Weller.
As a boutique festival, I had expected portaloos to be of a decent standard. They were pink, to be fair, but the decent standards stopped there. These were amongst the worst toilets I’ve ever experienced. Cleaners weren’t hired, as is custom at many festivals. Or maybe they were, but it was only the glamper wankers privileged to hand sanitizer?
I actually ended up missing a lot of the acts I’d planned to see – Blossoms, Bastille, Dr. John Cooper Clarke and so on – because there didn’t appear to be any programs on sale. Download the app, everybody told me. But my phone is the kind that lasts 20 years with the enviable features of a flashlight and Snake.
As a result everybody needed their smartphones recharged after two hours, and No.6 had conveniently supplied an extortionately priced phone charging stall. Sly.
In their greed, over-selling and corner cutting, No.6 have lost credibility with many fans. Instead of spending all that money on a legion of shiny No.6-emblazoned 4x4s, organisers should maybe invest in a bale of hay and other luxuries for 2017.
They seem so concerned with reaching their ideal demographic through the “glamping” bollocks, they’ve forgotten that the majority of people who go to festivals are young, skint and just want a boogie. We don’t care about the Michelin-starred 7-course Dinner At Clough’s, or the fact that our tent comes with a doormat/sauna/personal stylist and has only ironically been named the Titanic.
It’s unfortunate that the weather put such a damper on the weekend, but I still had an amazing time. The festival boyfriend is now my real-life boyfriend!
Because of the location, and the hope that organisers have well and truly learned their lesson, I would definitely recommend Festival Number 6. Let’s just hope that next year it falls on that one day a year when summer occurs in Wales, eh?
Last weekend me and my pal Jonny went to Green Man festival in the Brecon Beacons, the ticket for which I’d bought purely to see Warpaint (again).
We didn’t leave Liverpool until around 8pm on Thursday, when I was already drunk as a skunk. I puked twice on the way down and it tasted exactly like the BBQ Pringles I’d just eaten. And we almost killed fox.
Despite kipping in the car and pitching on the Friday morning, we still ended up 20 seconds from the festival site. We were woken from our power naps by the unfortunately named Deep Throat Choir.
The first thing we noticed was the kids. Kids, everywhere. Oh God, we thought. The clientele appeared to be made up of old hippies, young hippies, and hippies with kids.
A medium sized festival, it is known for being one of the cleanest and most peaceful in the UK. The festival places a large emphasis on recycling, so every attendee paid £1 for a plastic cup with their first drink purchase and carried it around for the weekend.
Wandering about the grounds, I found the Fairylove stall I’ve raved about in a previous post. By day two I’d caved and bought this amazing rainbow bra. You’ll never wear it again, you say? Already have around Liverpool 🙂
Because they cost £30 – £5 less than I’d originally thought – I figured I could afford to finish the look off with some £60 wings. Here’s Jonny modelling them, along with his new wizard hat and pants which I glimpsed a silhouette of his bollocks through:
There were lots of lamas. I’m not sure why.
The festival grounds provided plenty of nooks and crannies to get up to no good, and we found this LED cube whilst exploring.
Toilets are always a festival talking point, but these were the best I’ve ever experienced. Not sure if that’s down to cleaners or half the festival being made up of mums. We salute you!
It also rained a lot, but what would a Welsh festival be without rain? Pointless, that’s what.
The biggest crowd of the weekend seemed to be for Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. I wasn’t familiar with them, apart from that song off the advert, but I had so much fun. Such a great live band!
Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon were on in the Walled Garden, comprising of unusual covers and mash ups. Charlotte Church! Sequins!! Operatic Happy Together!!! So much fun and not even in an ironic way.
My Maths teacher gave our whole class Radio Lux singles when I was 13 because his son was a member, and it’s still under my bed many years later. I caught both of Meilyr’s sets, one of which was the worst kept secret and Green Man and went on until 3am.
Not only is Meilyr a pleasure to listen to, he’s a wonderful entertainer. He’s bashful and smiley and makes polo necks work. He first addresses the audience in Welsh instead of pandering the the non-19%. Here’s a clip of him on the Mountain Stage. Wela’i chi yn Lerpwl mis Hydref!
Considering I literally came to Green Man to see Warpaint, I was disappointed. Although they were phenomenal live, as always, their performances are wearing thin. If I just wanted phenomenal music I would listen to it on Spotify. But the point of live music, for me, is the performance. I never thought I was bothered about audience interaction, but Warpaint bummed me out to the point that I became quite bored. Not one smile, too much pouting. Bah!
Green Man hosts the Chai Wallahs, the largest independent music venue touring the UK festival circuit. Giving insight into the UK’s alternative and underground music scene, we spent a good deal of time here. It’s a place you can dance like a lunatic or perch on the floor and rest your muddy feet.
On the last night we observed a group of teens, all of whom looked no older than 16 but more likely 14. One girl had scribbled ‘look into my eyes’ on her t-shirt, cutting out eye holes where to expose boobage. We were disturbed.
Anyway. Highlights included Will Varley, who had a lot to say for himself. My favourite lyric was ‘If you know where you are when you wake up, something’s wrong,’
Rews, meanwhile, were are an alternative all-girl rock band from Dublin. Great to see girls rocking AND smiling!
The last act of the weekend were Belle & Sebastian. I was reluctant to watch because they’ve never done it for me, but Jonny was adamant that they’re an amazing live band. And what a show it was. Great visuals, great performers, great stage presence. I didn’t stop dancing.
Fans were invited onstage, to the point a stage manager appeared and scolded the band. Cue mutters of “Hillsborough” from the audience.
The end of the night was marked by the ritual burning of the Green Man, which everybody had tagged with wishes during weekend (Jonny wished it could be Christmas every day. I wished for ‘peace, love and lemons,’ obv). I was bursting with a wee and nobody joined us for the national anthem – mainly because we only knew the first couple of lines – but it was a magical moment. Top fireworks, too.
Plan A was a convent in Lancashire, which had been knocked down by the time we got there and replaced with fancy houses that stood empty because nobody could afford them.
Plan B was St Joseph’s seminary down the road. Opened in 1883, its grounds boast a large greenhouse, cemetery and gorgeous lake.
The building itself is riddled with cameras and alarms, and we staked it out for a long time.
There appeared to only be one security guard…
We crept up on him. Notice how he’s no longer in his chair. He’d somehow managed to creep up on us – literally about 25 ft away – without even spotting us. Amazing.
Eventually we just risked it and walking right past the cameras. Still nothing. All previous entries had been boarded up. It’s such a stunning building and we were desperate to get inside, but my climbing skills weren’t up to scratch. Here’s a report from someone who did make it in.
From then on, we were on the lookout for some TOADS (Temporary, Obsolete, Abandoned and Derelict Spaces).
We found an abandoned cottage near the car and went to investigate. The view was phenomenal and I got the obligatory corn field shot.
I even saw my first swede field! A swede, growing out of the ground! Day = made.
We scrambled across the overgrown garden to have a gander through the windows. What we saw was mostly furnished, which is my favourite kind of discovery. At first we wondered whether it was actually abandoned. Maybe someone just really hated gardening? No photos exist of the back garden, but the brambles were taller than us.
An adorable old lady came to greet us, excited at the porspect of someone finally moving in. She explained how many people had stopped to ask about the cottage over the years, which had once been owned by an old man with a “strange son” who died approximately 20 years ago.
On our way to an abandoned garden centre or Camelot we passed an abandoned mansion. Searching for a parking place, we were distracted by a high-walled bridge, and on peeking over the edge on our tippy-toas because we’re both short stuff, spotted an abandoned mill.
Upon further inspection it appeared impossible to reach, so we embarked on a mission to find an alternative route.
After half an hour’s clambering through plants taller than us and plenty of brambles (just for a change), as well as completing other obstacles, we were there. The mill looked beautiful alongside the river.
Although the door was wide open, our guards were up in case we encountered squatters. A poster suggested the place had been out of action for around a decade.
There was roll upon roll of herbal supplement stickers unravelling all over the floor, leading us to gather that the place had most recently been used as a factory.
We’re pretty sure we were the first people to rediscover this place. Although some buildings had suffered the general deterioration that occurs with lack of central heating and whatnot, there was no vandalism or graffiti and even the copper pipes remained intact. Exploring always gives me the heebie jeebies, so it was easier to relax knowing there was no security or anyone else here.
We found a pair of overalls and a cute woolly jumper on our travels…
Then we found a dead pigeon.
Although it was a brilliant find, despite the brambles, trying to find a way in is often the best part. Not so much out though. What I learned: it’s really scary climbing over a spiky fence that is alarmingly close to your vagina.
Back at the car it was getting dark, but we decided to quickly check out the abandoned mansion which we’d all but forgotten about. Unfortunately the phone had died we didn’t get photos.
On a huge plot of land, there was a winding driveway with an overgrown garden which was probably gorgeous way back when. The home’s architecture gave the place an Addams Family vibe.
Inside was little disappointing, having suffered extensive fire damage and vandalism. Most of the floors had collapsed.
However, some period features remained including arched windows, stone pillars and a carved staircase. What made the visit worthwhile, though, was a huge antique fireplace adorned with a carving depicting a ship at sea. Such a tragedy that only a cartoon enjoying a biffter was there to appreciate it full time.
Burlesque & Bubbly is your tasteful alternative to the conventional hen party, all powder pink and rosé champagne to match your lipstick. Rather than just getting trashed, it’s an opportunity to learn flirty techniques, shake your tail feathers and become a strong empowered woman who don’t need no man (unless you’re the bride to be – don’t dump him on my account).
Hosted by professional dancer/nutcase Rachael Mellor and based in Fonseca’s at the heart of Liverpool’s gay town on Stanley St, it’s apt that her sessions should be sign posted with rainbows.
Guests are encouraged to dress up in all their Ann Summers finery (not the crotchless pants) and will inevitably flap about tightening corsets (‘TIGHTER!!!’) and applying more of just about everything. It felt a bit like the girly sleepover I never had because nobody wanted to be my mate, and many bosoms were squeezed in admiration.The event is tucked away in a cosy curtained basement away from prying eyes. After being greeted with a glass of fizz the hens prepare a special sentimental keepsake for the bride. Then it’s on to an activity to devise your own sassy burlesque persona involving the name of a first pet (mine was a cat called Ben so it didn’t really work).
The dance lesson involves learning five key burlesque techniques which are incorporated into a routine in which the bride takes centre stage. The song comes from the film Burlesque and the routine is simple, but champagne makes most people tipsy so they won’t notice you being rubbish anyway.
Afterwards hens receive three glasses of wine each, and the opportunity to play with Rachael’s box of props so Facebook can see just how fit you can be and why on earth didn’t they see it before?
I’d never been to a hen party before and literally lower my voice to utter the word ‘penis’, so the thought of willy straws, willy piñatas and probably an actual well-oiled willy had me a bit scared. However, this was a lovely alternative to the traditional last night as a free woman.
It’s a safe environment to explore your sexuality away from the prying eyes of strange men, except for barman Niall who’s a bit strange in that he wasn’t paying any of us attention. Gobshite.
It also isn’t strictly for hen parties. Finally turning 18 or 80? Just want to get together with the girls? Divorce finalised? It’s all good – various styles and themes are adaptable to your shindig.
Regular readers already know my take on burlesque; it’s not about what flesh you’re flashing, but what you aren’t. It’s about expressing another side to your personality through narrative and costume, and propping other women up with admiration and encouragement. It’s about being proud to expose your vulnerabilities.
Rachael also runs weekly Jazz-Esque classes which fuse jazz routines and burlesque techniques. She’s a boss teacher and I’ve grown to consider her a close pal. She recognises that it’s all in good fun; we aren’t trained dancers and some of us aren’t comfortable getting our knockers out (as you can tell, I am!). Beginners classes start in March.
Easy going and an all-round good egg, Rachael is supportive even when you’re rubbish and always has a massive grin. I know we’re biased, but Burlesque & Bubbly is a genuinely great event. There’s no penis paraphernalia in sight, and you might even learn a few moves to impress potential roosters. You’re guaranteed a clucking good time (sorry).
Little less than a year ago I joined a Jazz-burlesque group (find Rachael Mellor Dance on social media if you’re interested!) Most of us had never danced on stage before, and as our performance dates drew nearer, we were drawn together by our insecurities – about back fat, about forgetting the routine, about whether we looked ridiculous in hot pants, about camel toes… But someone would always buoy you back up with reassurances that you definitely had ZERO back fat.
I’m a very jealous person and don’t like mixing friends and relationships. I wouldn’t even let the boy I was dating come to those performances because the thought of other more attractive girls prancing about in underwear made me insecure.
Now, that boy is my boyfriend and the other day I invited him to watch a burlesque show and support my friend Mandy, the hottie with pink hair. We sat right beneath the stage. I was vaguely jealous and uncomfortable, but for the first time, I wasn’t letting it rule my life. And I was proud to know my beautiful pal.
Joining is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve never had a group of girlfriends, or even a female best mate. I was always comfortable around boys but wary of girls because they can be so damn catty. This past year has taught me what it really means to be a woman; that your self worth shouldn’t be dictated by how many boys find you fit.
When I leave the room after being with these girls, I trust them not to speak badly about me. And I don’t speak badly about them, because I have nothing bad to say. They’ve made me trust other girls again, and I love every single one.
Joining is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve never had a group of girlfriends, or even a female best mate. I was always comfortable around boys but wary of girls because they can be so damn catty. This past year has taught me what it really means to be a woman; that your self worth shouldn’t be dictated by how many boys find you fit.
When I leave the room after being with these girls, I trust them not to speak badly about me. And I don’t speak badly about them, because I have nothing bad to say. They’ve made me trustother girls again, and I love every single one.