Written by Pirabalini
I was a virgin to the Burlesque scene and I will forever be grateful that Bad Company Burlesque chose to pop my cherry. I had the pleasure of attending one of their shows at the The Morrissey Pub.
An incredibly intimate, rich gothic-glamouresque atmosphere, strung with heavy chandeliers and strewn with scarlet furnishings. Incredibly sensual setting.
And maybe, just maybe if you close your eyes you’ll be honoured with a vision of none other than the queen of burlesque Dita Von Teese walking towards you.
It’s one of those venues that remains unfazed by what Vancouver’s real estate is demanding to conform to – I applaud that The Morrissey Pub hasn’t swayed from their romantic distinctiveness.
As the performers waltzed in front of me – I was starstruck. I blushed and I thank-gawd for my cinnamon skin cover-up. Immensely shy of where my eyes would stop for the reason I did not want to offend anyone. Half of these performers, correction, all of these performers were in very minimal, fantastical attire that is fitted to them to a tee.
Numbed with awe, envy and inspiration, I sat there focusing very hard from dropping my jaw. The confidence that these womxn portrayed left me astounded.
The hostess happened to be Miss Kiss that night. She communicated the ground rules that were to honour both the performers and the audience – Consent is everything.
I remembered an instance where there was a gentleman who was celebrating his birthday – naturally we all wanted to serenade him with a birthday song.
Miss Kiss stopped us assertively and asked if the gentleman wanted to be serenaded.
“No” he replied.
And that was that.
There were so many ‘consents’ exchanged throughout the evening, I have never felt so safe in an environment that is considered to be a bit taboo for the mainstream audience.
Once the environment was set, I was just in awe. This wasn’t amateur hour, everything was mastered like synchronized swimmers performing at the Olympics. If there was a hiccup, we all thought it was part of the show. It was smooth. The performers connected with us and made us feel comfortable.I honestly wondered, “why weren’t the tickets weren’t pricier?” because it was that good.
It’s easy to be curious and be enamoured with the Burlesque scene. There were so many questions and luckily Layna Emerald (they/them), one of Bad Company Burlesque’s producer, were able to attend to them.
How does one get involved with Burlesque?
“Some of us have professional dance background but not all. It’s not required,” assures Layna.
“Burlesque is so open ended regarding styles and you don’t have to be an expert of any kind of discipline. “
“There are studios Vancouver Burlesque Co. that can guide you in your burlesque journey though.”
“If someone is interested in trying burlesque, and they don’t see themselves being represented on stage they are welcome to have a dialogue with us. There has been a lot more awarenesses brought to the kind of diversity you would see in a show. A lot of the communities have been examining on how things are run and the burlesque scene is definitely very proactive in having these types of conversations,” says Layna.
Bad Company Burlesque is recognized for presenting burlesque in a different style – a term known as Roving. Roving is type of performance where it is more immersive – the performers are much more engaged with the audience. Normally, burlesque is presented on a stage and the audience is seated. Roving burlesque is not so common in this city.
Stepping outside the rules are we? Is that why the word Bad in Bad Company Burlesque was selected?
“Ohhhhh, maybeee,” they answer playfully.
“We also make sure that our audience gets home at a reasonable time. Bad Company Burlesque’s vibe provides a party-fun time but we are very conscious that our fans are coming from different parts of Vancouver and they have families to go to,” they add. “You can be still bad and get home at a reasonable hour.”
Bad never felt so GOood
“We are mostly a volunteer-based company however we make sure the performers are paid. Our top priorities are paying the performers and contributing a portion of ticket sales to Indigenous led organizations.
If we make enough, we’ll put it towards the next show and then once all is settled, the producers gets a small cut, it’s not very much,” they laugh.
Wow, that is unheard of in the creative field – getting paid first. That’s some values that aligns with Bad Company Burlesque.
“Bad Company Burlesque wants to set an example that performers get paid a fair rate. It’s not ok anymore to be underpaying anyone. Our hope is that we can do more shows and we become more popular so that we can pay our performers more.”
I melted. I’m getting this very Robin Hood-esque chills down my spine.
Bad Company Burlesque came up with the idea of Bad Bucks. They look like Monopoly dollar bills and are basically tips you buy in advance in a case you don’t have cash on hand.
“Bad bucks gets shared evenly amongst the performers. Sometimes there are acts that are more sensual and not so high in energy, still formidable, but these sensual acts tends to get a little less in tips. However if the performer gets a $5 dollar bill, it is theirs only,” Layna patiently explains.
“This is a new chapter for us. We’re all very excited about our new baby.
We’re still going to bring the ‘fun-party’ vibe and all the producers are going to perform. Come say hi!” Layna adds gleefully.
Walking away from the burlesque scene, I have nothing but respect for these performers. Their hard work and how they fiercely, never stray away from their core value’s integrity. It’s quite nice to see companies ‘walk the walk’ (pun intended).
Check out their upcoming shows @badcompanyburlesque or show some love by supporting them with a follow.