Burlesque & Bubbly

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).

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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._DSC9721 copyThe 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).

cerdiau.jpgThe 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.

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Rachael and our gorgeous Aussie bride Barbie Von Possum who definitely should have been named Kylie Down Under.

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?

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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.

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received_10156532930965374It’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.

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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.

kairiEasy 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).

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Photography by Mina Bihi

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Have Yourself a Saucy Little Christmas

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.

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Photo by Helen Basil

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.

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Check out those nipple tassels on our new mascot, Fererro Rochelle! Photo by Justine Zoe.