I fell into the world of burlesque kind of by accident. A few years ago I started attending a pole dance studio that also taught burlesque. Well actually it was the other way around. A burlesque teacher who dabbled in pole-fit. It was here that I learned about the glitter filled world of burlesque and places where dancers who didn’t look like mainstream dancers went to shine.
I made friends with women who were destined to be these kinds of dancers. Carving their way into the world to shine their own light in their own way. It was through them that I attended some shows and was fascinated by this world of feathers, silk fans, and nipple tassels. Modern burlesque is a reflection of American Burlesque of the late 1800’s. But there are many twists and turns. Every performer has their own personal style and signature way of performing. In 2020 I was excited to attend one of the first incarnations of “Shreklesque”. Put simply this was a Shrek themed show featuring some burlesque performers that I knew and others that I had seen and heard of. Not all were burlesque performers. Some were drag queens and some were “boylesque” performers; Males that danced in burlesque style and costumes but did not present as female.
At the time Brisbane was just emerging from the first panicked Covid – 19 lockdown. We were nervous about gathering in large groups but we were excited to purchase our tickets and head to a small theatre that was used predominantly for community theatre events to support this little group of performers trying to keep their art alive. Fast forward two years and I was just as excited to see the show again after two years of development and in a bigger, more professional venue.
I was not disappointed. I was treated to dance, drag queens, weird parodies of Shrek characters and a mound of green pubic hair among other things. All of the performers pushed gender norms in some way. Men dressed as women. Women performing as male characters from the movie although not disguising their femininity. A gingerbread man that was more sexual than any baked good should be. The “normal” standard for body shape was either parodied in the form of fake six packs or completely ignored in the form of larger than life performers.
None of this made the performances less. In fact it made for a richer, more diverse show. Everyone on that stage was just living their best life. Audience members did not judge anyone be it performers or each other. You want to wear a lime green outfit and bright purple hair? Go you! The show’s creator Trigger Happy has danced for most of his life. An injury prevented him from making it into the mainstream world of broadway but it doesn’t stop him from kicking high and dropping into the splits in a way no man feels comfortable watching.
There are those people in the world that would not be able to see past his size to appreciate his athleticism. People who think athletic = skinny. There are people who think that larger, less pert breasts have no place in public viewing. They are wrong. Humans come in all shapes and sizes. And some of us are born to entertain no matter what shape or size we are.
Lily checked the address for the third time. Yes, she was in the right place. It all seemed so surreal. The address Jenna had given her was in an industrial estate. The only thing that confirmed she was in the right place was a small sign in the window of one of the buildings. A classic silhouette of a woman striking a pose on a pole and the name “Scoundrels Dance Studio” A line of cars were parked in the surrounding area filling the carparking spaces of Motor Mechanics, Air-conditioning sales and other assorted businesses who, like most places, were closed on Saturday night.
The sliding door to the building opened and some women came out with robes over what Lily had to assume were their performance costumes. They seemed unconcerned about their unusual dress and stood around the entrance vaping. Other people arrived and made their way through the sliding door. Some of them seemed hesitant and unsure, the way Lily felt. It gave her comfort to know she was not the only one feeling awkward. Taking a deep breath she sent a quick text to Jenna before making her way across the street.
Jenna greeted her at the door, dressed in tiny shorts and a large t-shirt. Her make up was unlike anything Lily had ever seen. She seemed so exotic it was almost impossible to recognise her.
“Come in!” Jenna hugged Lily. Her eyes were glittering with excitement. Lily’s fears were slowly being replaced by awe at the environment she found herself in. It was like a strange mix of strip club combined with dance school recital. Student performers, like Jenna, made up and dressed in robes or oversized shirts like Jenna escorted their supporters to seats. Lily was surprised at the variety of supporters, boyfriends, mothers, sisters, friends young and old, it was an eclectic mix.
The show itself passed by in a blur of sparkly costumes female strength and athleticism. Lily was astounded by the way Jenna seemed to effortlessly hoist herself around and still look sexy at the same time. In between performances on the poles other women displayed their burlesque skills. Lily thought that burlesque was something that belonged in the speakeasies of the wild west or in some exotic bar in Europe. She never expected to encounter it in an industrial building in the inner suburbs of Brisbane.
Another thing she didn’t expect was her fascination with the women performing. They were all regular women. Some were young, some, astoundingly, were well into their 50’s but most were like Lily, somewhere in the middle of their life journey. Their bodies told the stories of their lives, stretch marks from pregnancies, scars from surgeries, curves from enjoying dinner with friends, tattoos, pericings and smiles. Smiles of women who had found their tribe, women who were learning to love themselves exactly how and what they were.
But the thing that filled Lily’s senses was the boobs. So many different sizes and shapes, covered with elaborate bras, crop tops and sometimes pasties. They all jiggled and bounced and enticed. Never in her life had Lily seen so many breasts in the flesh. She suddenly realised that she loved them and a need to explore them took over. She thought back to the lesbian porn she had enjoyed. Was she becoming a lesbian?
Later she found herself in a bar with Jenna drinking shots. Jenna sat opposite her dressed in a tiny black dress. Lily found herself gazing at her friend’s breasts that seemed to be in danger of spilling out. Jenna didn’t seem to care. Lily had the very strong impression that, on one level, Jenna wanted to expose herself. She seemed to enjoy the attention she was attracting.
The same song that Jenna had performed her dance to earlier came on. Jenna grabbed Lily’s hand and led her on to the dance floor.
“I love this song so much,”
The alcohol she had consumed burned in Lily’s veins. Normally she would have shied away from this place, those drinks and dancing with a woman like Jenna, but tonight she couldn’t stop looking at her. Jenna pulled her close and wrapped her arms around Lily.
“Let’s give those boys something to look at,” she spoke into Lily’s ear above the music.
The feeling of Jenna’s body against hers and the scent of her jolted Lily straight in the groin. Hesitantly she wrapped her arms around Jenna pressing herself against the other woman. Jenna was already taller than Lily, but her shoes lifted her another six inches. Lily found herself staring almost straight at the breasts that had fascinated her since the first day they had met. In the dim light of the club she wasn’t sure but it seemed as if she could see Jenna’s nipples through the fabric of her dress. With a jolt she realised that Jenna wasn’t wearing a bra. The only thing between Jenna’s breast and Lily’s face was a thin piece of fabric.
Lily’s cunt throbbed. The music drove her to move rhythmically in time with Jenna. Before she realised Jenna’s hands were on her butt.
“You are so fucking hot,” Jenna’s voice penetrated her thoughts, “I really want to kiss that beautiful mouth,”
Lily didn’t give herself time to think, she simply tilted her head upwards to look into Jenna’s eyes. At that moment there was nothing else in her mind except the desire she could see burning in the other woman’s eyes.
The kiss was everything Lily’ had fantasised about and at the same time nothing like she expected. The softness and the gentle way they met struck a chord deep inside her. Lily tilted her hips harder against Jenna’s leg and she lifted her hands to twist her fingers into Jenna’s hair. She pressed her lips harder against the other woman opening her mouth to let Jenna’s tongue tentatively explore her mouth.
It seemed as if her cunt was on fire. Instead of satisfying her, kissing Jenna had only awakened a deep need for more. Lily desperately wanted to tear the dress away and touch Jenna’s body. She wanted to taste all of her and feel all of her nakedness. With a shock she realised that she wanted more than to explore breasts. She wanted to look at Jenna’s pussy and taste the sweet salt of her. She became aware of Jenna’s hand on her butt gripping her, pushing her against her leg. Like a child riding a pony, Lily ground down enjoying the stimulation. Jenna’s hand slid over Lily’s hips and pulled her dress up. Her fingers slid inside the leg of her panties.
Like a wanton slut Lily moved her leg to allow Jenna’s fingers to slide inside and stroke her pussy. Looking up she saw a strange glint in her friend’s eye.
“Someone is a little excited,” Jenna smiled. Her finger continued to stroke. Lily felt as if her legs were about to give way.