As if trying to walk down Hollywood Blvd on a Friday night wasn’t surreal enough – what with the street performers, costumed impersonators, tourists, and merchants vying for your attention – I found myself in yet another unlikely place.
The entrance to the building I was looking for was actually a small unassuming door that led to a long hallway followed by several stairways. I had begun to think that I had walked into the back door of some random club, and at any minute was about to be escorted out by angry security guards.
I reached a landing in what looked like a television show murder-scene location, poked my head around the corner, and decided I must be somewhere in the vicinity of the right place. After a brief moment, I noticed classrooms full of dancers, and a blonde standing in the hallway. “Are you here for Burlesque,” she asked? Yes, yes I was apparently. And once again I had to wonder how the hell my brain led me to choose this of all things.
More students arrived, and waited with us in the hallway. I was relieved to see a few that didn’t look like dancers. They were loud and boisterous and were making fun of whatever dance class was next door to the room we were waiting for. For some reason it involved an excessive amount of twerking. I suddenly felt rather ancient.
Once our room was finally ready, we all filed in, put down our things, and got ready to dance.
During the warmup, I have to admit I was rather pleased that I could keep up. Mostly because the warmup was easy and involved a lot of stretching. Even though I was initially apprehensive, the dance-room environment soon felt familiar, comfortable even. Even though it’s been at least 20 years since I’ve taken a dance class, and a few more than that since I was semi-serious, I suppose some things never leave you entirely.
But then it was time to learn some moves. We practiced our various “sexy” walks and poses in alternating groups, during which were were highly encouraged to catcall the other women while they were strutting it. I also learned I’m not a naturally seductive “poser”, which I guess means I’m going to have to practice staring at myself in a mirror more often. It’s hard being me.
We then started in on some actual choreography. I felt wicked ridiculous at first, but since it was a room full of other women doing the same ridiculous stuff, and lots of people were laughing and just going with it, I kind of got over myself pretty quickly. The class was intended as a fun, but short introduction to contemporary burlesque, so there was no pressure to be particularly good. Which was great for me, being that there definitely were a number of skinny, 20-something dancers who could royally kick my butt at all the routines. But honestly, everyone was too concerned with their own selves to care what anyone else was doing anyway.
We then all grabbed some chairs from the hallway to use in our final choreographed number. It involved one long satin glove, a lot of head rolls, excessive hip motions, and a nonstop stream of Lady Marmalade. I was happy that I was more or less able to keep up, although some of the moves were not even remotely natural for me. Also, I was starting to get a little dizzy from all the hair flipping.
So, I have to admit, this was a lot more fun than I was expecting. Yes, I basically learned a stripper dance. And yes, I question as to whether I’ve been demoted from the feminist club for participating. But, hey. I can’t say it wasn’t an experience. And if the stock market crashes, I’m apparently prepared for a totally new career.
(Dear feminists, please don’t kick me out. I was only kidding!)