Things I’ve Learned at BurlyCon 2011 (Half-Time Edition)

For the past two days I’ve been attending BurlyCon 2011 in Seattle. BurlyCon is a non-performance burlesque invention, meaning that unlike most burlesque gatherings where the foocus is on stage performances, burlesque dancers gather here to take classes, socialize, and get feedback from their peers on troublesome routines.

Two days in and with two days left, I thought I’d share some quick observations.

1) In a culture that fetishizes youth, burlesque’s openness to older women provides powerful role models on aging gracefully or, as Jo Weldon put it, “DIS-gracefully”.

2) White people can still be horribly insensitive to performers of color. Fellow whiteys: urging a black performer to do a jungle girl act or a Josephine Baker act or anything else simply because she’s black is not ok. A routine should emerge from the totality of a dancer’s experience, not from the incidental fact of her skin color.

3) There is a higher percentage by linear foot of beautiful red hair in the Sea-Tac Doubletree right now than in any other population on Earth.

4) Well-intentioned feedback can be the greatest gift a performer can give another performer. It can also be terrifying. The peer review process here, where selected performers do their routine, then sit silently while a dozen or so peers comment, is almost perfect at emphasizing the gift and downplaying the terror.

5) I already knew this but it has come back to me in a million different ways the last two days: sexy is a state of mind, not of physical appearance.

That’s it for now – gotta focus on the next two days now!

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