Attending Your First Burlesque Show: What to Expect

In last week’s blog, we offered inspiration for your attire for those of you who are new to attending burlesque shows. This week we decided to follow up on a similar theme, by taking a look at what to expect when attending your first show as an audience member.
It’s worth noting that due to the worldwide rise of burlesque over the last few years, there are many different kinds of shows out there. From seated ‘dinner and a show’ affairs to shows that merge with club nights, to small, local pub shows, to massive festivals hosting performers from all over the world and much more. Thus, not every show is the same, so we will be making some generalisations here.

Arrive in Plenty of Time
Let’s set the scene to begin with. Most shows open their doors between 30 minutes to an hour before the show begins. This gives the audience time to arrive, mingle, find their seats if it’s a seated event, get drinks and get comfortable before the stage action begins. It’s generally a good idea to get in before the show starts if you can; obviously this varies depending on the venue and set-up (you might be lucky and be able to sneak in unnoticed at the back if you’re late) but nobody wants to be that person trying to enter quietly and having to push through (especially if your seats are in the front row) once the show has begun.

The Host with the Most

As a general rule, burlesque shows are hosted by a compère or host. These fabulously engaging, multi-talented individuals are tasked with the enormous job of basically being the glue that holds the show together. They create a rapport with the audience, they introduce the acts and if they’re good, they weave a seamless magic that flows through the show making everything gel just right. If they have additional skills (for example, many hosts are also singers) then they’ll often drop in a performance or two of their own between the other acts. Without the host, you’d be looking at a series of disjointed, seemingly random performances with nothing to tie them all together, so the role of the compère is crucial.

What’s In a Show?
Burlesque shows are often split into two or three sections, with intervals between to allow the audience to top up their refreshments and powder their noses and whatnot. Each section will be comprised of a number of acts; if it’s a cabaret or variety show (as opposed to strictly burlesque) then, as well as striptease acts, you might see magicians, comedians, circus acts and more.

And so we conclude this week’s blog, we hope it’s been informative! In our next blog we’ll be taking a look at audience etiquette at a burlesque show, with some handy hints on do’s and don’ts when going to see a show. In the meantime, if you missed our previous blog and you’re looking for some ideas for what to wear when you’re going to see a show, check it out here:
ABC How To: Dress For a Burlesque Show.