On June 10, Shamelessly Hot is hosting one of their infamous Salons; this time bringing three performers from Nashville, TN. Freya West and I played phone tag across time zones until we got a chance to talk. Even on the phone her body positivity rang out from her passion for Burlesque to the pride of kitsch in Nashville’s Parthenon. The June Salon and subsequent Burlesque Bootcamp is something you won’t want to miss.
Shamelessly Hot has hosted Burlesque dancers before but every city has a different flavor. Freya brings pageantry to Southern Burlesque. “Chicago / Midwest Burlesque is dance heavy while LA burlesque is more music video inspired”, but in the south “it’s all about the swagger, the luxuriousness… pulling off your elbow length gloves dripping in pearls” likening it to the luxuriousness of the silver screen. Freya started her burlesque career in Chicago, “the attitude is totally different there than being in the bible belt.” Burlesque might make you clutch your pearls but Freya insists that “even if you’re pretty straight-laced, you have nothing to lose… if you unbutton just a little you can find a whole new sexuality.” Friday’s burlesque allows you to unbutton without losing your whole shirt.
This definitely isn’t your average Friday night out. “We lost the joy of adult entertainment. Not everything has to be family friend. When you go out to a bar, you don’t take your kids.” Burlesque is putting the fun and funny back in sexuality. “I have an act where I’m dressed as a tub of Pimento cheese.” Did you ever think a tub of Pimento cheese could be sexy? “It’s surprising (and) pokes fun at this idea of what is sexy. You don’t have to have duck lips and stick your butt out (to be sexy).”
Burlesque as an industry promotes body positivity, celebrating a wide range of bodies. Freya’s troupe celebrates plus-size women, performers of color, and all the shapes and sizes in between. “Whatever we’re fed as women about how we’re supposed to look or be, Burlesque gives you ten more flavors.”
Back home in Nashville, Freya West runs Delinquent Debutantes– a burlesque school dedicated to teaching the art of burlesque and self-love. Friday’s performance features Shan de Leers and Kitana Louise who are both graduates of Delinquent Debutante. Delinquent Debutante is Freya’s response to the multitudes of women who asked “how do I get involved?” Lucky for you, they’re bringing a class to Columbia.
Saturday Freya and her fellow performers are hosting a Burlesque Bootcamp at Frame of Mind, the art of eyewear. No experience necessary. No dance experience required. “It’s super level one stuff. Basic basic movement.” While they’re specific movements to burlesque, Freya swears you can use them in your everyday life. “The pinup pose is perfect for the Instagram selfie. Even if you never get on stage, it’s fun. It’s a fun workout. Besides, Shimmying is way more fun than sit-ups.”
“We’re the only workout class where jiggle is a good thing. Everyone can learn to jiggle in a way that’s’ fun. I think it’s fun to have bits that jiggle and wiggle.” Freya frequently hears feedback from women about learning to love their bodies, “I never liked my butt before I came to class” etc. Freya’s classes are a chance to open up and appreciate the things your body can do. “You go to class where you have to love those things about yourself and maybe (when you leave) you’re a little bit kinder to yourself.”
If you can’t make it on Saturday, or want a taste of burlesque before you walk into class, Delinquent Debutantes’ YouTube channel has a series of
Teasetorials demonstrating how to shimmy, strut, showgirl walk and more.
Freya spouts wisdom about self-love and body positivity like a fountain of love. I asked her for one piece of advice for every woman thinking about attending her performance or class, one piece of wisdom to impart: “Your body is valid and you have worth as a sexual and sensual being without having to lose weight or tone up or change anything about yourself.”
“You can be so much more powerful in every aspect of your life if you weren’t hung up on your image. How much more limitless could you be if you weren’t focused on this imperfection?”
Going forward this weekend, embrace your limitlessness. And maybe sign up for that Burlesque Bootcamp.