Friday, August 26, 2011

And My T-Shirt Says: I Went to a Burlesque Show and All I Got Was a Slap in the Face

My first (and only) trip to a strip club was about 9 or 10 years ago with three guys I knew through work. It wasn't some upscale club on Sunset Boulevard, or even a well-known diamond in a rough part of town. It was next door to a bowling alley in east Pasadena.

My judgment was high that night. I scowled at all the hungry-eyed lurkers, bristled at the strippers who came by our table, rolled my eyes at my companions. I was overcome by a mixture of disgust and pity, and I left declaring that I would never again watch a girl in a thong working it for money.

Until last night.

My girlfriend C emailed me a week or two ago and asked if I had any interest in going to see a burlesque show with her. Fairly certain that a show like that wouldn't be the same as straight up pole-spinning, I happily accepted her invitation.

So last night we ventured to Harvelle's in Santa Monica to see the dance troupe Harlow Gold. Six girls pretty much take over the entire space—dancing on the bar, running laps up and down the length of the floor, jumping on tables and hanging from straps attached to the walls and ceiling.

I found the differences between this show and the strip club staggering. First of all, the girls were real. No triple-F-cup stripper boob jobs. No tummy tucks. There were dimples and sagging—and the ladies all still looked sexy as all get out. Second, there were some thong-type items, but mostly fun lingerie,  tassels, fishnets, thigh highs and bustiers. The costumery all felt very Moulin Rouge, as did the heavy lashes and red lipstick.

What I found most impressive was the dance skill and choreography. Each number presented a different sort of story (like a military one, flight attendants one, and pin-up girls/bathing beauties)—making the actual performing more of the focus than the exposed body parts. I was genuinely impressed by their interaction and theatrics on stage. And yes, the swinging from bars along the ceiling and maneuvering from straps attached to the wall elicited the same sort of wonder for me as watching Cirque du Soleil.

What I didn't like so much was getting smacked in the face by the saucy blonde when she did her solo.

C and I were sitting at the end of the bar closest to the stage, and the girls' little staircase up the bar was right next to us. As saucy blonde sauntered up it, she stopped and grabbed C by the hair, pulling her face close like a dominatrix. I nearly took a high heel to the head as she swung around the horizontal pole above me. And then toward the end of her number, she ran past all of us at the bar with her arm out, whacking each of us upside the head. Took me right back to this incident.

I suppose she was just showing the audience who was boss. My cheek did sting through the entire next song, though.

Despite the small streak of violent behavior, I would definitely return to Harvelle's to see the show again. Or another burlesque show. Maybe like this Star Wars one. Strip club, though? Not so much.


  1. I love Harvelle's! So fun! The first time that I went there and it was Burlesque was accidental... I thought it was Jazz :) Turns out it was Jazz and Burlesque, but I thought they were great! I didn't get slapped in the face though or have anyone grab me. Too funny!

  2. I love burlesque. I wish I had the balls to take a class and perform. But I would not like being slapped. NO WAY.

  3. A friend of mine dances burlesque, and I went to TX to see her first show. It was awesome. She did a reverse striptease, and it was so sensual and well done.

    Burlesque is not stripping, and I wish people would get that.

  4. Reminds me of a story I heard about our brother one time...

  5. Alysha - You must have picked the Nice Show to go to! Wish we'd have gone to that one!

    Sizzle - I bet a burlesque class would be totally fun. Except that I can't dance and that seems like a critical skill... But it'd be fun to watch everyone else learn the moves!

    HunnerWoof - You're so right: It's not stripping. It's totally different and way more entertaining.

    Sister - And I'm sure it won't be the last slap story we hear from him!

  6. After being slapped, I'd probably sit there with a fake smile holding back tears. Then I'd wonder about pain and sex and how they are linked and I'd wonder about the dancer's childhood. Sometimes I think too much.


Well, whatdya think?