Pictures from the 2016 festival and, below, organiser and performer Kimberley Edmunds (Foxee Stole).
An even bigger and better weekend of fun and laughter is promised at the second annual North Wales Burlesque Festival to which cabaret artistes have now been added. And it is to take off over Friday 29th to Sunday 31st January.
The weekend of entertainment is all set to take place at the Imperial Hotel in Llandudno. It is £26.50 for the whole weekend which includes access to all shows, all workshops, the dealers’ hall, a museum and the film Gypsy on the Sunday night.
Friday will see the Rising Star/Seren yn Codi competition in which acts who are new to performing (less than two years) can enter. It is not just burlesque but is open to any type of act such as dancers, musicians, singers, magicians and sideshow acts. All are welcome. The semi-finals will start at 3pm and the finalists will compete at 7pm. The winner(s) will receive a place in the 2017 gala show.
That will be followed by the Sioe Pysgod a Sglodion (fish and chip show) which will feature acts who are Welsh or live in Wales. It will be hosted by Llandudno magician Jay Gatling and there are singers (including Welsh language), a hypnotist, comedy, belly dancing and burlesque striptease.
On Saturday there are workshops all day in beginners’ burlesque, vintage hair, contemporary dance, hooping, dance fitness, life drawing, fashion and the history of burlesque. The evening show stars some of the best names in burlesque and cabaret including jugglers, singers, musicians, striptease artists, sideshow performers and pole dancers. Following this there will be a jam session where people can play music and dance.
On Sunday two workshops will be led by world famous photographer Neil Kendall. He was responsible for all the images for one of Dita Von Teese’s tours and was recently voted Vintage Photographer of the year at the national Vintage Awards. Neil is leading one session for models and one for photographers.
After these there is a chance for everyone to put the workshops into practice at the Sunday shoot where they can take images which may be used for their portfolios. The event will be closed on Sunday evening with the ‘onesie wind down’ when Gypsy will be shown on the big screen, giving everyone a chance to relax.
Through the ages
When people think of burlesque they generally think of strippers. It conjures up images of seedy little venues, nipple tassels and poorly executed dance routines that have no purpose other than to drag out the amount of time it takes for the girl on stage to take her clothes off. It’s similar to the way magicians are stereotyped as being the guy in a tux and top hat producing doves and sawing a lady in half.
Burlesque hasn’t always been this way. Before the 1920s it was a thriving art form that was the alternative comedy of its day. These shows would satirise or ‘burlesque’ politicians, celebrities, the upper classes and royalty. They would be full of music, comedy and dancing but were definitely adult shows, often using sexual innuendo to deliver their messages but there were no strippers.
Stripping wasn’t added until the 1920s and the reason was that the old burlesque circuit had started to crumble and theatre owners needed a cheap way to get bums on seats. At the time strippers would work backrooms of pubs for tips alone and so were quite happy to take their act in to an actual theatre. Of course, their male audiences followed but burlesque is an art form that men and women should be able to enjoy together.
For this reason, the North Wales Burlesque Festival concentrates on variety including acts such as jugglers, magicians, belly dancers, pole dancers, musicians, comedians, sideshow performers and acrobats. Unlike most burlesque shows, the focus is not on the performers who are removing their clothes. There will be something for everyone.
The North Wales Burlesque Festival started in 2015 and was organised by Kimberley Edmunds (Foxee Stole) and Russel Erwood (Erwyd – yes, Erwyd the Jester). In 2016, the festival will have built on the previous success and looks to be well worth attending.
To check out exactly what will be happening and when as well, who will be appearing and to book tickets, visit the festival’s website at www.northwalesburlesque.com