Best of 2016: The making of a burlesque dancer

class photo

I’m standing on a darkened stage in fishnets and heels with a rainbow fish windsock strapped to my ass, thinking that in 3 minutes and 12 seconds this will all be over. It’s time to go big or go home.

The curtains part and the music breaks. From behind a wooden screen decoupaged with green glittering reeds and blue tulle, I wave a single elbow-length black glove stitched with spiky gold fins. The crowd goes, ooooh.

I can’t believe I’m actually doing this. After an intense six weeks of Burlesque 101 with Seattle’s Academy of Burlesque, I’m making my stripper debut as Cocoa La Swish, a fish diva emerging from the reeds of self-doubt into the shiny confidence of my own bedazzled body.

I bite the air and smile.

So you want to be a stripper…

Six weeks earlier, I’d walked into the first night of our class at Studio Blue, a dance space on Rainier Avenue. The room resembled every other dance studio I’d ever been to. It had a hardwood floor with a wall of mirrors and an adjacent wall of cubbies separated by a curtain of pink fringe. A metal rack draped with feather boas reminded me that though I’d taken dance classes before, this would be a different experience.


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Best of 2016: The making of a burlesque dancer