Dehydrated: Burlesque is a risqué business

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In the hope of becoming sexier and developing upon my wily feminine charms, I signed up to the university burlesque class.

Usually, dance classes are my idea of hell – with groups of lithe blonde women shaking their hips and pouting. They’re the havens of the naturally sexy and confident, scowling at me because I’m apparently not feminine enough to physically pop my hip because I basically have a penis.
I tried to tell myself this wouldn’t be like the time I tried pole-dancing at undergrad, where I was the only person in the class who had to take a physical run up before being able to lift myself onto the pole.

I convinced myself burlesque would be different. This would be filled with like-minded girls who were also bur-curious, with a desire to instil themselves with confidence as we’re all taught just exactly how to be sexy.

‘So the aim of this session isn’t me teaching you how to be sexy,’ the instructor said as I arrived. ‘The most important thing is that you’re comfortable. Only you know what makes you feel sexy.’

I could have cried. I need to be directed on how and when to shimmy at people to be sexy. That was the fucking point.

Still, I’d paid £2.20, so I decided to throw myself into it. Maybe I’d be the next Dita von Teese. I imagined emerging from a giant cocktail glass, sopping wet. Maybe I’d be a natural.
The instructor handed out stockings. As I pulled mine over my legs, I immediately heard a rip and saw a ladder crawling up inside of my fleshy thigh. Maybe not.

I refused to be deterred. None of us were going to be particularly knockout on the first try and the instructor surely wasn’t going to ask us to whip on a few tassles and crack out a tit, circa 2012 Tulsa.

So with my ripped stockings and a misguided sense of excitement, I threw myself into our little routine, which I personally thought was a little basic, actually; one shimmy, taking gloves off one finger at a time, seductively draping the glove behind my neck and leaning against the chair, using my big toe to pull the stocking off. And then shimmying a bit more. Or something.

Pulling my clothes off is my favourite activity; there’s nothing better than after a long day than taking off your bra and lounging around in your pants, eating an entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s and watching Orange is the New Black. However, even when I’m taking off my clothes hoping to be sexy, I never considered a ‘right’ way to do it. Apparently there’s more to flinging your top off than making sure it doesn’t land in the bin. You need to make shapes with swan-like grace, arching your back to a C-shape and pointing your fingers and toes.

The real low point came when I thought I was doing well. I stretched left leg behind my back, waggling my arse before triumphantly pulling off my stocking and whirling it around my head, before the burn of a pulled muscle crippled me. Whilst everyone danced upon their chairs, becoming the seductive and alluring beings I hoped to be, I curled up onto mine, wishing I was elsewhere. I decided I had no inner swan, longing to break out of me, but rather resigned myself to my outer hippo, and played with my ever growing rip in my stockings.

Much like my genuine virginity, losing my burlesque virginity was painful, awkward and embarrassing, yet I find myself eager to do it again. Much like sex, maybe burlesque is something I’ll get the hang of…eventually. Unlike sex, at least I’ll be having scheduled lessons once a week.

Words by Kim Bond 

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