The Gala Spectacular: Despite one more night – a kind of after-party version of the well-established Sunday Soiree – to round off the Berlin Burlesque Week 2016, Saturday night’s Burlesque Gala Spectacular was the high point, the final riotous celebration, of a whole week of burlesque events spread throughout Berlin.
A mad, glitter-strewn, riotous rampage of swinging hips, pouting and painted mouths
With the Week opening the previous Saturday night with The Big Tickle comedy burlesque show followed by the Burlesque Week opening party, both at Ballhaus Berlin in Mitte, it was a mad, glitter-strewn, riotous rampage of swinging hips, pouting and painted mouths.
Of cast-away corsets, of seductively slipped off stockings, of elbow-length gloves being peeled off glove by agonizing glove, of champagne bottles shaken and sprayed over all-but-naked bodies (as well as the cheering VIP tables up front); of wildly twirling tassels, of stunning costumes, of erotic dances with virtual swans, multi-coloured bubbles dancing on silken butterfly wings, of raw and rampant nakedness and such a general all-consuming, all-enveloping sheer lust for life, we were all left panting and exhausted by the sweat-drenched end of it all. Woo.
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No-holds-barred, high-energy and downright sexy take on some good old school burlesque
Despite the extremely high quality of showwomanship throughout the week, on Saturday night they turned that one more notch up: Every performer was stunning. And each act ratcheted it up just that little bit more. With an amazing line-up of local and international burlesque talent, highlights included the internationally reigning Queen of Burlesque, voted as such by the international Burlesque Hall of Fame for 2015, Trixie Little; but also Viola Vixen, the Australian beauty, back in riveting form after having given birth to her first child not that many months ago – not only blowing people away onstage but also having been a central part of organising the Week.
Banbury Cross was also spot on form with her Marlilynesque good looks and her no-holds-barred, high-energy and downright sexy take on some good old school burlesque.
Overwhelmingly about taking back the female form from the 20th Century world of male-controlled, sleazy pseudo-eroticism
But everyone was great, and I say that with absolute sincerity. It was a brilliant night, everyone – audience and performers alike – in love with the whole splashy, unashamedly rip-roaring world of modern-day burlesque.
And it was the crowning glory for a wonderful week of an art form that has transcended its roots to become an oddly 21st Century form of feminism – burlesque seems overwhelmingly to be about taking back the female form from the 20th Century world of male-controlled, sleazy pseudo-eroticism – that titillated while taking away, all the while irrevocably cheapening female erotic beauty.
A wild celebration of their own beauty and sexuality
Could burlesque represent the fourth wave of feminism? The fact that the majority of the audience at the Gala Spectacular was female, and they were whistling and hollering the loudest of all, is proof that the ladies (and the couple of men) stripping on stage were doing it as a wild celebration of their own beauty and sexuality, determinedly reclaiming their bodies from society and the mainstream media’s dictates on what makes up sexy.
Or it was just a big bunch of people not giving a flying fuck and having one helluva good time, naked or clothed, drunk on life or booze or both. Here’s looking forward to BBW 2017!
Article by Noel Maurice, photos by Mia Morris
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.