Get into the groove
Burlesque classes at a local bar do more than loosen one’s hips
It’s Saturday afternoon at Midtown’s Press Club, bright light is dancing through thick, cubed-window walls. The floor’s still a little sticky from the previous night’s spilled drinks. And a group of seemingly average women gather round the bar, hugging, recounting crazy stories of the night before.
The women, however, aren’t at The Press for Bloody Marys: During the next hour, the bar would be unusually void of men and transform into a Sizzling Sirens Burlesque Experience dance studio.
Confession: I’m not much of a dancer. In fact, my experience is limited to locking my apartment door and dancing in pajamas to Madonna’s “Into the Groove.” Even then, I laugh at myself. I’m definitely not one of those women with swivel hips. My hips don’t even move much, actually.
Rae Destefano, a Sizzling Sirens dancer, emcee and instructor, enters the bar wearing a jacket and sweatpants. She sets up her iPod station, then peels off her pants to reveal colorful booty shorts, fishnet stockings and suede boots. A couple more women, including Sizzling Sirens director Jessica Swanson, also are wearing sexy gear. I’m wearing black yoga pants, Nike Shox and a green T-Shirt with “What the duck” printed in bright yellow lettering.
I definitely lose points in the sexy-attire category.
No matter. Destefano turns on the music and we warm up with hip circles, pelvic thrusts and squats. No, this isn’t your average Jazzercise routine; Sizzling Sirens burlesque is quite different—even compared to typical burlesque. It’s a nonstrip style that incorporates jazz, ballet and modern-dance techniques, and the group’s Saturday classes focus on honing technical dance skills, such as the jazz walk, pirouette and passé. But they also teach classic burlesque moves, like the silhouette and shoulder roll.
It’s fun and sensual.
Later that evening, in front of the long mirror in my bedroom, I work on my jazz walk and booty swivel. And I can’t stop laughing. But the groove stays with me, and I find myself practicing them while cooking dinner.
The next day, I decide to dress a little sexier for Sunday’s class. I style my hair and dab on a little red lipstick. I stick with yoga pants, but opt for a fitted black sweater.
It’s 1 p.m., and I’m sore from the workout the day before. Thirteen women and three instructors are at the club today, which will focus on learning a full burlesque routine over 10 weeks of classes. I discover that most of the women have professional jobs, and some have children, but for one hour we listen to the sultry beats of Peggy Lee’s “Fever,” swivel our hips, practice coy flirtation and partake in dance-offs.
Blush-red faces from the beginning of class are now confident and sexy.
And my hips finally unlock, a bit, and my self-consciousness melts. When I stand in front of the mirror to practice the routine later on, I don’t laugh.