Waterford is a small city. So small in fact that when my friends come to visit they question whether it is a city at all. I am not saying this to be mean about my new adopted home but rather to emphasis the point I am about to make.
Waterford is not a place where you think you will be able to find what is still considered in Ireland as weird and wonderful rather than mainstream. But find it I did. Recently I attended a Burlesque show in the Central Arts Hall on the quay.
Storybooks & Stockings is a Burlesque cabaret show created by the Waterford burlesque duo Xhale. The show consists of an electric mix of dance, theatre and music and has a certain circus vibe. Headlined by Xhale and supported by an array of local special guests, this spectacular show surprised me.
Burlesque dancing is still something of a taboo on the Emerald Isle with many still having a slight embarrassed attitude to the traditional dance. Probably the most famous place to see this genre of dance is the Moulin Rouge. The Red Windmill, Waterford is not but I was impressed with the standard of dance and fun that the performers brought to the stage.
It was more of a modern version of the traditional shows that I have seen in Paris. Burlesque was originally popular in the 1830s to 1890s, experiencing something of a rebirth in the 1920s and increased in popularity again from the 1990s. Most of you will be familiar with the gorgeous Dita Von Teese but she is just one of the powerful personalities that are storming the way for this genre of entertainment.
This particular show costs €18 and was created and directed by Xhale made up of Bonnie Boux (Sinead Could)and Vixen Serenity (Natasha Everitt). It contained modern story lines including a nod the popular Game of Thrones and also held a strong feminist theme even challenging the fact that God was a man. It is the perfect girls (or boys) night out (it’s also a BYOB event) and I would highly recommend it. I for one can’t wait for the next show.
Many thing Burlesque is a way for men to look at almost naked women without being seen as sleazy characters at a strip joint. But that is not what it is about. It is a work of art that empowers the performers (traditionally women but not necessarily so) and pushes the boundaries of society.
I am delighted to find that Waterford has a such an open and inclusive culture that I was not expecting. It just goes to show that once you start to explore even the smallest of towns that you can find weird and wonderful things to brighten your day.