I thought it was about time I visit New Orleans. This is where my grandparents met decades ago and I’ve always said, “if it wasn’t for that town, I wouldn’t be here.” It was the 5th Annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival and what a perfect excuse to go visit. I drove down with one of my male students and we stayed in the Cornstalk Hotel, a boutique hotel in the French Quarter, and oh my, what a place! After exploring New Orleans, I couldn’t think of another place I would have wanted to stay. Anyway, after we got scrubbed up at the hotel we strutted over to Harrah’s Casino to see the Men’s Burlesque show, “Strut.” I was excited because I had two front row tickets and didn’t need my binoculars. I had forgotten to bring them anyway. Overall, the acts were humorous. What was disappointing was the low attendance. Seems like there were only 50 or 60 in attendance in the very large casino theatre.
The next morning, we took a workshop from one off the male performers, Ray Gunn. When I told him that I was a studio owner in Charlotte and was also a pole dancer, he asked me if I allowed males to take from me. All I had to do was point to Andrew, my student. Ray got up to shake my hand. As a male pole and burlesque performer, he recognized the struggle that men have in a very female dominated art form of both pole and burlesque. He said that so many studios would not let him in or he knew others who were shunned away. I told him that everyone is welcome in my studio. In fact, it’s my goal to have just as many male students as I do female.
Next show: The House of Blues to see The Bad Girls of Burlesque. Women from all over the world performed solo acts and portrayed some sort of bad character. Honestly, I had expected more visceral or shocking performances considering the title of the show. However, I thought all of the performances were quite tame. Of course, it was almost a sold out show and I had wished the people there had also seen the men’s show.
The highlight of the trip was happening upon a pole at Saints and Sinners, Channing Tatum’s bar on Bourbon street. Look at me name dropping.. oops. So, we ended up there a couple of nights and got on the pole, wowed the patrons, and taught person after person how to pole dance. People would walk into the room where the pole was and stand pressed against the walls and watch us. I’ve been teaching exotic dance for a long time and what I constantly observe is people not giving themselves permission to try it out. The curiosity is there, but many remain pressed against the walls as my student and I pleaded to get them on the pole.
One lady, in particular, gave it a shot. She lit up. Towards the end of the night, her husband told me that he had not see her that happy in a while and wanted to know where to buy a pole for her. He also said what I do is liberating and it helps liberate people – teaching exotic dance, that is. It’s almost as though he knew my business motto : “Liberate Your Radiant Perfection.”
New Orleans was amazing and I plan on going back next year to take more workshops and see more shows. Hopefully all shows, especially the men’s show, will be sold out!