How to have a burlesque party
by Josephine Middleton
An exhibitionist with a fetish for feathers? Have a burlesque party on the cheap. Glamorously decadent burlesque costumes and lifestyle needn't cost a string of pearls...
Burlesque originated as a form of elaborate comedy theatre, often highly satirical and with a very middle class audience. It was only in the last century that the genre began to broaden its appeal - a penchant for double entendres and a fondness for outlandish female drag contributing to its risqué reputation. It wasn't until the 1930s though that striptease became a staple part of burlesque shows and it was this overtly sexual element that sealed its fate, with a social crackdown on burlesque in the 30s leading to its steady decline.
The vibrant colours, seductive burlesque costumes and elaborate sets often associated with this art form have led to a recent resurgence in its popularity and no serious party girl is now complete without some kind of corset/feather costume combo. Going for broke? There already? Have burlesque fun, whatever your budget.
The beauty of burlesque as a party theme is that you can do as little or as much as you like. Less outlandish guests can get away with wearing something black and a feather in their hair, whilst for the more flamboyant party goer the possibilities are endless. Burlesque costumes can be put together very simply on a budget - less really is more, after all - and a visit to your local haberdashery should provide you with miles of net and a selection of feathers at a very reasonable price. Gather up a metre of black netting, pin it to your pants and hey presto! - you have a bustle.
Eco friendly divorcees may like to consider recycling bits of their wedding dress. Attach some strategic black lace to your wedding bodice and there is no need to wait for your wedding night for all the fun. Indeed, you can dye your wedding dress and become an absinthe-guzzling lady in red. If you have got some cash to splash, the costume is the place to spend it. How much more decadent can you get than having your very own bespoke corset made to fit?
Burlesque costumes online:
Do be careful with your invitations though, as burlesque can be a daunting dress code for some. Many people find parties anxious occasions at the best of times so being required to show up in what amounts to your underwear could easily be enough to keep some guests at home in their thermal pyjamas. Make it clear that nipple tassels are optional and design your invite to be as inclusive as possible.
Drinks to serve at a burlesque party
No burlesque party would be complete without a selection of delicious and highly potent cocktails. Organised paupers should plan their cocktail menu in advance and assign ingredients to each guest, ideally the ones you know well and whose attendance you are sure of. It might be a bit much to have 'bring a bottle of exotic spirits' on your invitations. Lashings of cheap vodka, rum and gin will usually ensure a party goes with a swing. To continue the burlesque theme, make your cocktail menu up with the aptly-named Orange Striptease, Black Feather and Pink Stripper. Or how about whipping up a batch of Strip and Go Naked Punch? If you're feeling a touch anti-prohibition, serve your burlesque cocktails in fine tea cups and mix them all up in the bath. We don't recommend you make illicit moonshine.
Mixing your own cocktails is fun, but if you would rather spend your time can-canning and can afford to buy in some help, you could rent yourself an almost naked cocktail waiter from Butlers in the Buff? It'll take the pressure off your hostess duties and makes a great ice breaker...
If music be the food of love, or perhaps lust in this case. A sexy soundtrack is absolutely key to any good party, especially so in the case of burlesque, when you are looking to encourage as much dirty dancing as possible. Of course back in my youth a perfect party playlist meant hours recording your favourite songs onto tapes, but fortunately we now live in a much less embarrassing era and you can create seamless music mixes at the touch of a button. Obviously you will want to include some classics like 'The Stripper' but luckily you'll find that musically, all the hard work musically has been done for you. Simply download yourself a couple of burlesque music compilations and you will be all set. Do mix it up towards the end of the evening with some party classics - everyone loves to dance to a bit of Dolly Parton at the end of a night. (Or is that just me?)
And for those of you with lucrative careers in corset making who can afford to look further than i-tunes for their entertainment how about hiring a burlesque dancer or two? Or even better, book burlesque dance lessons for the evening, put the costumes to good use and you and your friends can learn how to become striptease starlets.
Burlesque decorations and lighting
It is very simple to turn even the dingiest of party venues into a gorgeous bursleque grotto and, as with most parties, lighting is critical. One cheap and easy first step is to change all the clear light bulbs for red ones, which you can usually pick up in any DIY store or even supermarket. Red bulbs give out a sultry, sexy glow and are dim enough to draw attention away from your thighs. Candles and tea lights make a good accompaniment, but can also be a fire hazard in a room so festooned with feathers.
Make your own cute tealight holders from empty glass jars - simply glue a length of coloured net around the middle of the jar, overlaid with a narrower length of black lace et voila! Finish with red tealights for extra glam.
Then it is back to the haberdashery for more trimmings. Cheap lengths of netting are ideal for creating a colourful backdrop. If you are having your party at home you can staple netting up across bookcases, cupboards and alcoves - create a glamourous burlesque boudoir and hide all your junk at the same time! If you can afford to spend a bit more than £2.50 on lighting, strings of fairy lights and sheets of net lights can be added over the top. Finish off with a generous sprinkling of feathers, feather boas and anything else vaguely vampish that you can lay your hands on.
So your invites have been sent, the naked waiters are standing by ready to serve a selection of strip-themed cocktails and your kitchen looks like the set of Moulin Rouge. All that remains then is to squeeze yourself into your outfit and let rip. All that corsetry does, of course, havie the added benefit of eliminating the need to provide party snacks...
See more Japanese, Vintage/Burlesque & Gothic DIY Style
Electric blue burlesque corset from elysiumcorsets.co.uk
Red light bulbs will bring the burlesque spielkellar atmosphere to your party
You don't have to under-dress to infuse yourself with burlesque. Think sleek and groomed, red lips, fascinators, feathers, jet jewels and black netting.
Take thyself to the haberdashers, buy flesh-coloured net and sequins, and become a burlesque mermaid. Not for a party, though. Just because it's wednesday.