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The word ‘burlesque’ conjures all kinds of images in one’s mind, ranging from the grand tradition of French cabaret with its corsets, feathers, tassles, and never-ending lines of Can-can dancers … 

To 1930s smoky American back-room bars with a woman in a red dress seductively positioned on top of a grand piano. Prior to the 18th Century, the term ‘burlesque’ described humorous theatrical entertainment involving satire and parody. It appears to have evolved from the Italian ‘Comedia dell’arte’ of the 16th Century (as a derivative of the Italian ‘burla’, meaning joke).

In America, the term became synonymous with Vaudeville style variety shows, with the emphasis firmly on striptease. The golden age of burlesque arrived in the 1920s and continued until after the Second World War. Elaborately dressed performers gave elaborate performances against elaborate sets, delivering a risqué mix of suggestive dance, songs, magic and striptease. It was OTT, before anyone even knew what that meant. The public loved it and packed theatres to the rafters. Burlesque artists such as Gypsy Rose Lee and Sally Rand were celebrities of their time.

Burlesque slowly died out as new performers attempted ever more over-the-top routines, and it wasn’t long before the tease had disappeared completely from the strip!

Since the early 1990s, however, burlesque has enjoyed a mini revival, prompted by artists such as Dita von Teese and Immodesty Blaize. Clubs with magical names like The Tassel, Wam Bam Club and Boom Boom recaptured the wit and the glamour lost since the Golden Age.

Put simply, burlesque is sexy, it is indulgent, and The Armidale Club is bringing it to you on Saturday 28 July 2012.

An evening of burlesque and musical entertainment, Ooh La La promises to heat up even the coldest Armidale winter night, featuring special guest Miss Burlesque Australia 2012, Briana Bluebell, a ballet dancing, booty shaking, fan twirling Burlesque Artiste! Invited to perform at the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas in May 2012, Briana has become one of Sydney’s favourite and well-known performers, and now she is coming to a Club near you.

With a background in ballet, Jazz and modern contemporary dance, her presence onstage is captivating and classic with a sexy twist. Having grown a vast repertoire over the last four years, her shows are of epic proportion, with all production aspects covered down to the tiniest sequined detail! With her porcelain skin, chocolate coloured locks and burning blue eyes, Briana will take you on a journey you will not forget.

Briana will perform a variety of acts throughout the night and will be supported by local burlesque trio, Ivy Bleu, performing a burlesque-inspired dance routine choreographed by Armidale’s own powerhouse of colour and movement, Melissa Killen.

The evening’s entertainment will commence with brand new trad Jazz group, The Set ‘em Up Joes, who have at their heart the musical talents of Emily Stocker (most recently recognised for her role as Agatha Makin in the Armidale Drama and Musical Society’s production of The Hatpin) and Chris Purcell.

Maracuja will then set the night on fire with their red-blooded Brazilian Bossa Nova beats. A lyrical fusion of Samba and Jazz, Bossa Nova acquired a large following in the 1960s, and it remains a vital part of the standard Jazz repertoire.

To see the night out, we have the well-loved Rockabilly band The BopCatz headlining the event. The BopCatz are Carol Elder (potent vocals, who also starred in The Hatpin as Harriet Piper), Steve Thorneycroft (archival guitars), Sarah Thorneycroft (humming bass) and Steve Harris (righteous drums), and they have been speaking with Elvis, Carlos and the Bandidos, The Shadows, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, The Stray Cats and Imelda May, and are bringing the wild word of Hip Bop song to a room near you. Combining many years’ experience as performing musicians, The BopCatz respect tradition but also prize innovation, channelling the spirit of the originals and pioneers, but also seeking out the new flavours and forms – a dash of swamp gothic, mudcountry blues and voodoo groove.

Patrons are expected to come in costume, taking inspiration from such films as Cabaret, Chicago, Moulin Rouge and of course, Burlesque. Tickets will include two free drink vouchers, and canapés will be served throughout the night. Early birds are able to purchase tickets online from www.armidaleclub.com – from Legal Minds in the Beardy Street Mall or from Black Dot Music on Dangar Street. Ticket prices are $50 for adults or $30 for students and pensioners (student/concession cards must be available on request). While tickets will be available on the door, a surcharge will apply, so The Armidale Club recommends getting in early to secure your spot at Armidale’s hottest event for 2012.

The month of July at The Armidale Club will have a distinctly French flavour, as we celebrate Bastille Day on Saturday 14 July 2012 before Ooh La La, so be sure to check for details on our website or Facebook page.
This story was published in issue 62 of New England Focus

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