Lime interview - Events & Activities
Sharon Kay the fabulous founder of London’s first burlesque school reveals all
Sharon Kay is the founder of London's first school of Burlesque, Burlesque Baby. Formed in 2005 and with 15 years expertise in the industry, Sharon has trained over 10,000 women in the art of tease; from 18-year-olds to women in their 60s, supermarket check out girls to lawyers; actors to supermodels, Dancing on Ice contestants to Royalty - all of these women share the same female desire - to feel like a goddess. Michelle Adabra caught up with the vivacious Sharon to pick up a few tips on the trend sweeping London.
How did you get into Burlesque and where does it originate from?
Well I’m originally from Australia, I started dancing when I was young and I learned different styles of dance. I worked in a burlesque club in Australia and I saw an advert for a job in a magazine, I went for it and got it, so it started from there really. I began to study Burlesque - the real American burlesque, the Las Vegas show girl’s style. Burlesque came from Britain originally and it was satirical and comedic but it’s more known for its American show girl striptease style as opposed to classic burlesque.
Lydia Thompson's British Blondes' US tour of 1868-1874 was America's first introduction to burlesque. Thompson and the theatrical form became very popular in the US and this is where the saucy striptease originated from, which was cheeky, comedic and saucy. Burlesque Baby takes inspiration from the Burlesque showgirls from the 30's to the 50s such as Gypsy Rose, Josephine Baker, Sally Rand, Tempest Storm and the popular pin up, Bettie Bage.
Tell me about Burlesque Baby?
I did a bit of choreography in Australia so when I first came to the UK I thought I’d like to teach women. I started Burlesque Baby in 2005 and at the time nobody else was doing it. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work at first but it grew and grew, women would tell me that they liked the style and that it made them feel glamorous especially because it caters to different kinds of women.
We have the burlesque academy, where we do the classic, 30s, 40s and 50s cheese cake, burlesque style and there are also opportunities for women to perform what they have learned in a show where they can bring friends and family. We do private lessons, hen nights and we also do a workshop for 40s inspired hair and makeup if you truly want to achieve the style – it’s the whole experience.
Why do you think women sign up for the classes?
I would say most of the women who take the classes have lost confidence in some way or another. We don’t strip, it’s very demure not like strip clubs. We teach you things like how to walk sexy; it’s very ladylike yet suggestive. Burlesque empowers women; embraces individual diversity and encourages women to feel beautiful at any age.
Have you taught anyone famous?
I have taught a lot of TV actors, I have taught Royalty and some princesses. I’ve even taught supermodels but I won’t give out any names.
Can you get fit from Burlesque?
The workshops are physical but it’s not like aerobics where you are sweating loads. It has benefits to it, for example there is a lot of stretching involved, also it teaches you how to have poise. We also do a lot of fanning which sounds crazy but one of the props we use quite a lot is a fan, after 20 minutes of waving a fan around -you will feel that in your arms! It’s more something you would do for enjoyment and confidence building.
If you would like to master the art of the strip and the tease and unleash your inner siren, London's most prestigious school of classic burlesque - Burlesque Baby has teamed up with LIME Magazine for an exclusive readership offer - giving each reader 15 per cent discount off all classes and workshops booked throughout March. Please check out www.burlesquebaby.com for full listings.
Lime’s Goddess Experience
Where is London would you recommend do you visit to feel like a goddess?
I would say Burlesque Baby first. I’m really into the whole vintage style so I like to treat myself to a real vintage makeover and photo shoot – they do them all over London now and you can go there and get a whole make over – think Dita Von Teese, it’s fabulous. The pictures are really beautiful and it’s something you can keep to remind you how fabulous you looked.
What’s your definition of a goddess?
A goddess knows that it’s not just the beauty on the outside that counts. They are confident, sassy and content within themselves. They know how to hold attention when they walk into a room.