The word “burlesque,” for some, might bring to mind raunchy, old-timey dance shows where exploited women would strip down to almost nothing in dank theatres full of ogling men.
At the Sunshine Coast’s Boudoir Rouge Burlesque, the word means something different altogether.
“It’s really about people taking back their voices and taking back their stories,” Boudoir Rouge’s Analyn Brook said in an interview. “We’re not being oppressed by men. We’re here to empower ourselves. I don’t go, and none of our dancers go on that stage for men. Most of the people that come to our burlesque shows are other women.”
Brook, whose stage name is Eileen Wright, co-owns Boudoir Rouge with Rachel Holliday, known onstage as Dallas Glittertush. They are holding an open house on the evening of Friday, Sept. 10 and through the day on Sept. 11 at the Kinsmen Hall at Dougall Park in Gibsons. All genders, all varieties of gender identification, and all aged 18-plus are invited.
“We’re offering free classes so that people who don’t know what to expect from burlesque can come and sample it,” said Brook, adding that COVID-19 protocols will be followed. “People can dance, or they can watch. Whether they want to join so that they can end up being burlesque dancers on stage or whether they want to just take dance classes and confidence classes with us, that’s great.”
Confidence-building has been crucial for Brook, who lost her right leg to bone cancer when she was 14, then underwent a double mastectomy 20 years later.
The stage-name Eileen Wright is a play on the fact that when standing with her prosthetic leg on, “I lean right,” she said with a laugh.
That’s the kind of humour and spirit that Boudoir Rouge seems to thrive on.
‘Honour my body’
“My first time on stage was one year after my double mastectomy,” said Brook. “Part of the reason was to celebrate and honour my body as it is. It is beautiful, and it is sexy, and it is fun. And I can do these things without fitting into the typical mainstream agenda.
“We always say that our empowerment may not be your empowerment, and that’s OK.”
A stage show is tentatively scheduled at Roberts Creek Hall for March 2022.
You can learn more about Boudoir Rouge Burlesque on its Facebook pages.
The Sept. 10 open house starts at 6:30 p.m.