Who wouldn’t like to be a burlesque dancer, a beautiful temptress and goddess-like stripteuse. But would you have the talent? QueensOfVintage.com editor Lena did a four-week beginners class to see if she could be the new Dita von Teese.

I admit I’m ever so slightly nervous as I sit down in a basement room of a posh London hotel awaiting my first ever burlesque lesson. There are around ten other women here, some of whom are sipping cocktails from the hotel bar. I make a mental note to have some alcohol next time to take the edge off .

The lesson kicks off with everyone introducing themselves and stating their reasons for signing up for burlesque. Most are just curious, some love the vintage glamour of it and one lady explains it’s on her list of things to do before she hits 40. Everyone is lovely, and, most importantly, completely normal.

Katja, our teacher, sets out the lesson plan. In the first week we’ll learn the basics of burlesque: how to walk, pout, pose and strut our stuff in style. Week number two will be all about the strip and how to peal off for your audience. In week three we will learn a military routine (two words: riding crop), and week four will be all about nipple tassels. Nipple tassels? I somewhat panic at the thought of having to stand in front of all these strangers in little else than my knickers…

Burlesque is all about the art of striptease. As Katja points out, “Even though the tease is more important than the strip, it does help to know how to remove your clothing and look glamorous at the same time. ”


It’s also all about celebrating femininity and the female form. Burlesque dancers enhance their shape with corsets and suspender belts, they are unashamedly proud of their bodies. This again is something I’m struggling with, with all my body issues I mostly dress like a shapeless blob. Only in the last few years I’ve gradually started to realize that it could, possibly, be quite ok to have boobs and hips.

Back to the lesson: we start off by warming up and stretching and then move straight into learning different walks and facial expressions. It feels a little silly to pout like Bettie Boop or emulate the puzzled look of Twenties silent film starlets, but we soon get into it and everyone’s having a giggle.

The day finishes with a floor routine. Think fanning your legs, seductively pointing up and down your knee and plenty of winking.
pict0467A week later the focus is on the striptease. “Never hide your curves”, Katja reminds us, “no matter what size or shape you may be. Be proud of your body and don’t be afraid to show it off! This is one of the most important rules of burlesque dancing.”

Then we talk through different items of clothing, tops, blouses, skirts and bras and how to take them off most seductively. Today’s routine is a lap/chair dance ‘for our partners’ as Katja tells us with a wink. I’m cheating slightly by wearing two bras on top of each other so I don’t have to bear it all as I take the top one off. I’m getting there though. After the lesson, as I walk to the bus stop, I feel two feet taller and walk with a special bounce in my step.

Week three and it’s time for the military routine. Some of my fellow students have donned Forties uniform jackets and military caps to get into the mood of things. This week’s routine is all tongue-in-cheek as we march around, mock salute our audience and seductively dance waving our riding crops.

pict0464It’s the final week and the dreaded nipple tassel routine. Everyone meets up a bit earlier to have a few cocktails before class and to do our showgirl inspired make-up and hair. Sequins, corsets and fishnet tights are out in force. As we gradually learn the routine to Mariliyn Monroe’s ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, I suddenly start feeling like a proper stripteuse. Taking off my bra and twirling the nipple tassels at the grand finale  (it’s amazing what one can do with ones boobs!) is a whole less scary than I’d thought, and we all do the routine from start to finish three times cause it’s just so much fun.

I might not be the next Dita but the attitude behind burlesque – be glamorous and be proud of what you’ve got – is something I will take to heart. I’ve found my few hours as a professional peeler empowering, a celebration of my femininity and anything but seedy. Watch out world, bullet bras and suspender belts will be on the daily menu for me from now on.

To book a four week burlesque course with Polestars click here. Courses are available in all the major UK cities and the beginners course costs £100, with 4×2 hour classes.

3 Responses

  1. Dawn

    I was the lady with the list of things to do after becoming 40! It was an amazing course and I thoroughly recomend anyone who has got into a rut to do it. I have quite tight hamstrings and burlesque requires quite a lot of flexibility but I have managed to adapt some of the moves and it’s great to have the chance to dress up and have a laugh with the girls!
    Nikki Bocker sur le feu French translation (Knickers on fire!)