Flossie Cheeks Will Rule The World!!!

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Well, it’s been a couple of weeks now and I’ve only just got round to writing about my amazing experience.  That’s very bad of me but, anyway, here it is now – so read on…..

Sometime last year, October I think, someone I knew from burlesque classes told me she was organising a burlesque evening to raise money for the local stroke unit.  She had had a stroke herself ten years ago, at the very young age of 24 and she wanted to give back something to the people and the unit that had been so good to her.  I didn’t know Anna that well at that time, I had helped out with lifts sometimes to and from class but that was about it but I wanted to help her.  It sounded like a colossal feat she was trying to pull off, with no experience of putting anything like this on before.  Neither had I but I wanted to help so I offered.  I thought maybe she would need help with phone calls, or fundraising or on the night, I don’t know really.  What I was not expecting was for her to ask me to perform a dance with her on the night!!!

And so began the adventure…..

Anna had a brilliant idea for a routine that involved her being in a wheelchair and being persuaded to get up and dance by her nurse, a sort of ‘healing’ process if you will.  I was to be the naughty nurse.  Yup, I thought. I can do that. He he.

Together we planned the costumes – Anna making the dresses with the help of a dressmaker friend (on account of her only having the use of one arm!) and me sewing all the fiddly bits on and making our bras and the rest of it.  I had to learn how to insert foam cups inside the dresses to keep them up, I made a nurses apron and covered our bras in sparkle and satin.  I sewed glittery things and I attached tassels to knickers.  It was great!  It felt like all my evenings were spent either sewing or practising our dance.

We choreographed the dance ourselves and had such a laugh along the way, coming up with ideas and rehearsing hard.  We booked  a studio and we filmed ourselves dancing.  We texted constantly, we watched clips of burlesque performers on YouTube.

As time went on it got more stressful for Anna who was negotiating with people, organising the event, from liaising with the venue and compere, sorting out the sounds, finding someone to do the table decorations, getting raffle prizes, selling tickets and generally being thrown in at the deep end.  Harder for her than some with the added problems her stroke had left her with.  Me, I just kept sewing and making Anna laugh.  That seemed to be my job, not a bad one I thought.

And then it was the evening of the event.  We had everything planned to the last detail.  Anna wanted it to be a surprise.  The rest of the evening was full of professional acts, all amazing and gorgeous or funny and quirky but all professional. Anna and I were to come on right at the end with an introduction from Sadie, the compere.  Nobody was to know, except a few who needed to be in on it.

And so we did it.



We performed to 200 people.



And it was AMAZING.  The support from everyone was fantastic, and we felt like stars.  I don’t think either of us were under any illusions that we were Dita but that was never the plan.  We were two amateurs, with various physical limitations between us, performing a comedy burlesque routine and we pulled it off!

Along the way, I learned to make costumes and that it isn’t so easy to make something that can be whipped off just at the right moment, particularly when one of you only has the use of one arm, I learned to put into practice all the tips and skills i have found out from the various classes and workshops I’ve attended as part of the Burlesque Jems, and I found out a bit about putting on an event.  Most of all though….I found a new friend.  Anna and I hit it off from day one and we had such fun and so many laughs doing this.  I don’t suppose we would have become such friends if it wasn’t for this and it really was one of the best parts of it all for me.  Anna is an inspiration.  She is strong and determined and she doesn’t let her disabilities hold her back. Those of you who know me, know I have a positive attitude to life and Anna is one of those people too.


Obviously, we want to do it all again now so…..


And for those of you who haven’t seen us, here is the link:



First ever CABARET NIGHT!!!!

Last Saturday night approximately fifty women, all shapes and sizes and ranging in age from early twenties to mid sixties, took to the stage to perform in the first ever Burlesque Jems student showcase, at the Triangle Club in Chelmsford, Essex.
The event was organised to raise funds for Chelmsford Women’s Aid but it was also an opportunity for the women who attend the four classes across Hertfordshire and Essex to perform together for the first time.
The evening was expertly compered by the lovely Sonia Cakebread and the dancing kicked off with a wonderful solo performance by Jem Ayres, or ‘Mama Burlesque’ as she is known to her ladies.  Following on from this, there were performances from each of the different classes as well as from the strip club, who meet once a month, and some of the ladies who attended a weekend residential earlier in the year.  A duet was performed by Faye Wade and Lindsey Barrell Dixon and there was a wonderfully entertaining solo by Jo Lawrence.
Each performance was very different to the last. The opening number was Good Girl, a feel good dance that some of the women had only learned the previous week, in a special one-off workshop.  This was followed by Harlow’s Lola, which changed the mood to sultry and sexy.  Candyman, performed by Bishops Stortford, was sassy and fun and Big Spender, by the Ware ladies, was bold and brassy.   The Chelmsford ladies performed Wanna Make Love to You with their usual confidence and the residential class had the audience spellbound with a powerful performance of Feeling Good. Some ladies just performed one number, others were in almost every one, depending on how many classes they are involved with.
As a performer myself last night, I thought the evening was spectacular. I have got to know women from all the classes over the nine months I have been attending my local class, some just online via the Facebook page but others by going along to support various performances at local events.  Saturday night was the first time we had all been together and the atmosphere was amazing.
Women who never dreamed they would be on stage dancing in front of an audience (me included!), were strutting their stuff with confidence and shimmying as if they were professional dancers.  Everyone supported each other with hugs and kisses and words of encouragement and congratulations.  It was a beautiful sight, all these women, dressed in their corsets and bustles, sparkles and feathers, both on stage and off, mingling with the audience and dancing to the disco in between performances.  The emphasis was not on technique, it was all about fun.  And fun it was!
The Burlesque Jems is a unique community of women, brought together by Jem over the last year or so and held together by each other. Most of the women have never performed before and many have felt uncomfortable about their bodies for all sorts of reasons. Burlesque Jems enables women to confront their demons and to overcome their inhibitions to allow them to feel confident and self assured.  Some women attend just because they love the whole vibe that goes with burlesque but, whatever the motivation to come, everyone loves our burlesque community!
The evening was a resounding success and raised over £900 for Women’s Aid, selling 130 tickets in all.  However, as well as the success of the show as a fundraising event, the evening was hailed as a major achievement for the organiser, Jem Ayres.  Little over a year ago, Jem started the first burlesque class in Chelmsford.  Shortly after, the second class in Bishops Stortford started running, followed by a class in Harlow and one in Ware.  There has been a very successful Glamourpuss residential weekend, with another planned next year, and regular boudoir photo shoots and vintage hair and make up sessions, as well as nipple tassel workshops.
Last night’s cabaret was the first of what will hopefully become an annual event. I certainly hope so!
For more information or if you want to get involved contact Jem on 07903 188 404 or jemayres@yahoo.co.uk
I think the expression on my face says it all!!! Such fun!

Why you should learn how to shimmy….continued!

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Last night I went to the flat of one of the ladies who goes to the same class as me. As there was no class this week a few of us decided to get together for a practise. Along with myself, there was my daughter and one other lady. Age range, 29-50+.

Our practise session went well, it helps to go over some of the more difficult moves with others and we all felt quite pleased with ourselves.

In between practising, we chatted.

We all agreed that we have to be ‘selective’ with whom we share our burlesque. All of us know people who are a little bit ‘surprised’ that we do this dancing. Why is this?

Burlesque is associated with something rather seedy, it seems. Nice girls don’t do burlesque! However, our classes are full of lovely ladies! They are certainly not seedy or hookers!

Burlesque in its true form is art.  Yes, the dances can be seductive and a bit naughty but there is nothing distasteful about Burlesque.  It is glamorous and it is sexy.  It isn’t degrading or shameful.

Our classes are fun, they are uplifting and they help women to feel good about themselves, in all sorts of ways. Many of the women who join the class have had terrible experiences and have low self-esteem or lack self-confidence. Burlesque empowers these women by helping them to make positive life changes through their new-found confidence. I, for one, have seen women blossom as the classes have progressed.

How is this seedy? Or something to hide?

Those people who find it distasteful either don’t know what burlesque is or they have very narrow views.

I, for one, am proud to be part of it and I know my class mates are too. We aren’t call girls, or strippers and we aren’t degrading women.

We are a group of women who love to dance.

In frillies.

Got a problem with that?

Why you should learn how to shimmy…….


At the beginning of this year, I started burlesque dance classes.  I wanted some form of exercise that didn’t involve a treadmill or hours of torture on the cross trainer.  I happened, by chance, to see a new class being advertised locally – burlesque!  I was intrigued!  I already loved the whole burlesque thing and owned a couple of corsets but I had never thought of dancing.  I’m not a dancer, I never have been…but I signed up for the taster session anyway.  

It was fun!!!  And although I was under no illusions that I looked like a professional dancer, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Over the year, I’ve continued the classes, only having to miss one course because of my surgery.  I hated not being there, I missed my weekly ‘fix’.

Just recently, I took a big step and attended a tassel twirling workshop.  Yes, I got my breasties out!  With tassels, obviously!  After a two-hour intensive workshop, I am proud to say I can twirl ’em to the right, twirl ’em to the left AND twirl ’em in different directions at the same time!!! Amazing!!!  Even more amazing for me as my surgery was breast surgery, the final operation after years and years of surgery.  My boobs are, quite frankly, a MESS!!  I felt quite apprehensive about ‘getting them out’ even if it was just with a bunch of women…but I needn’t have worried.  The class was fun, relaxed and exhilarating all at the same time.

That weekend, I truly understood burlesque, I think.

I’ve now signed up to do a second class every week and in October I’m going to be performing in our first ever CABARET!!!!!!

My fellow ladies are all such lovely women and our tutor, Jem, is more than just our tutor….she’s the ‘leader’ of the wonderful burlesque community that she has created.

I still look ridiculous when I dance.  My various problems mean I just can’t do some of the moves like others can.  But, when I dance, in my head….I’m gorgeous.

And THAT’S what it’s all about.