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…..
WATCH THIS SPACE!!!
And for those of you who haven’t seen us, here is the link: