You know what this column hasn’t had yet? A glossary of burlesque terms.

burlesque
Say whaaaaat?

The amount of times I’ve had a meeting with a potential booker and, upon checking they want as much nudity as I can manage, have not understood what I mean by “full reveal” or “tassels”. I can only gather from this that we need a little education about some keywords used on the scene. Here’s the basics:

Full reveal

Stripping down to tassels that just cover the nipple area (normally from a corset or bra).

Merkin

Technically defined as a pubic wig. But in the world of cabaret, merkins are covered in glitter, crystals and all sorts of pretty decorations. More like a little ladygarden shield than anything – a much nicer thought! 

Nipple Tassel

Patches of material that cover the nipple with a tassel hanging from them. Get twirling girls!

Pasties

Not the pastry! These are just like tassels but without the tassel. They often feature cute designs or are designed in a fun shape.

Bump’n’Grind

A dance move involve a sharp push of the hips in one direction, then the other, then circling them to the music. A super sexy classic burlesque move.

Revue

Light theatrical entertainment consisting of a series of short sketches, songs, and dances, typically dealing satirically with topical issues.

Aerial act

Whole routines or parts of routines performed in mid air, often using hoops and trapezes. This bridges into the circus aspect of cabaret and burlesque shows.

Shimmy

Another classic dance move involving a sexy shake of the shoulders and, naturally, the boobs.

Stage Kitten

The glamorous assistant working at burlesque shows to collect clothes and set up props for each each.

Neo-burlesque

The revival and updating of the traditional burlesque. It’s still based on the traditional art, but encompasses a wider range of performance styles. Neo-burlesque acts can be anything from classic striptease to modern dance to theatrical mini-dramas to comedic mayhem.

Got any other terms you want to know about? Let me know!

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