The Top 5 Reasons Why Being a Burlesque Performer Rocks

A couple of weeks ago, we did a blog about the dedication and passion it takes to forge a successful career in the 21st century world of burlesque. As we discussed, it’s very hard work, long hours and lots of highs and lows. But doesn’t that make you wonder… Why do performers do it? What are the rewards and do they outweigh the cons? What exactly is it about burlesque that inspires the passion that makes people dedicate their lives to all things glittery and tassely?
We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 reasons we love being burlesque performers.

1. Artistic freedom
As we have said many times before and we’ll say it again; burlesque offers an artistic freedom unlike any other form of dance or theatre. Every single thing that goes into an act, every aspect, comes from you; the initial concept, music, costume, theme, style and so much more. Creating a burlesque act is a multi-stage journey of ideas, development and inspiration which gives immense satisfaction as an artiste. Finally presenting that act to a live audience is just a part of the process and is not even necessarily the end result. Many performers will hone specific acts as they perform them, changing parts that don’t work and adapting the piece and delivery style to suit different audiences.

2. Being your own boss
Working to your own schedule, working on things that have an interest for you and generally building your life and career around something you are passionate about; there’s nothing quite like it. Being a self-employed burlesque performer, you’ll quickly find that it takes more than just stage presence & good costuming. You’ll find yourself multi-tasking in various roles including: designer, social media marketing, administrator, accountant etc, so be prepared not only to be your own boss, but to do all the other work that comes along with being a performer.

3. Travel opportunities

ABC teacher Daiquiri in Barcelona, 2009.
ABC teacher Daiquiri in Barcelona, 2009.

Not one to expect from the get-go, however if you manage to build a successful career in burlesque, you’ll find it can take you places you’d never imagined you might go. I (Daiquiri Dusk) have performed in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Barcelona, Munich, Milan, Amsterdam and more, including Romania – certainly not somewhere I might otherwise have ever visited.

Whether you’re entering the international burlesque festivals (side-note: some of these pay a small fee, others you must fund your trip entirely yourself) or if you are asked to perform for another event or promoter for a fee, burlesque could take you places beyond your wildest dreams. Obviously, we should point out that you need to be extra-careful when booking international shows; be aware of visa / work laws in different countries and make sure you check out the promoter / venue that’s booking you, via online reviews, speaking to other performers who’ve worked with them and so on, especially if you are travelling abroad alone.

Daiquiri performing at the New York Burlesque Festival, 2009. Copyright Don Spiro.
Daiquiri performing at the New York Burlesque Festival, 2009. Copyright Don Spiro.

4. Friends
Some of my best friends are performers. Most of them I might not have met if it weren’t for burlesque so while it may cut into your social life, burlesque has the potential to bring some amazing people into your life. Plus, you have the bonus of going to ‘work’ (doing shows) with your mates. Win!

5. Getting to play fancy dress for a job
Yup. It’s a major draw (for me anyway). I love my burlesque wardrobe; I loved creating each piece in it and I love getting to wear them all. But sometimes I forget how different the burlesque performer’s life is from ‘Jane Normal’. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the whirlwind world of burlesque and I’m only reminded when I step outside my circle of performer friends. I realise just how lucky I am to have such an exciting life / career that makes me happy.

So there we have it; hard work and dedication are a must, but if you manage to create yourself a successful career in the world of burlesque, it can be a very rewarding choice.