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A History of Burlesque

Posted by Holly Anderson on February 11 2014.

History of BurlesqueThe history of Burlesque is fascinating; it’s a “a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects”. The word derives from the Italian burlesco, which itself derives from the Italian burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery.

The history of Burlesque makes for interesting reading as it has a rich and varied past. Burlesque overlaps in meaning with caricature, parody and travesty, and, in its theatrical sense, with extravaganza, as presented during the Victorian era. Apparently “Burlesque” has been used in English in this literary and theatrical sense since the late 17th century. It has been applied retrospectively to works of Chaucer and Shakespeare and to the Graeco-Roman classics. Who would have thought this kind of performance art would still be a hit in the twenty first century, so much so that it’s one of the most popular hen party activities!

A History of Burlesque – 20th Century

A later use of the term, particularly in the United States, refers to performances in a variety show format. These were popular from the 1860s to the 1940s, often in cabarets and clubs, as well as theatres, and featured bawdy comedy and female striptease. Some Hollywood films attempted to recreate the spirit of these performances from the 1930s to the 1960s. There has been a resurgence of interest in this format since the 1990s.

A Polestars burlesque hen party is sexy, classy and a little bit cheeky; great for women of all ages, shapes and sizes. You will learn showgirl moves with the use of the feathered fans provided and you’ll be a burlesque queen by the end. If your whole group dresses up in corsets, fishnet stockings and heels you’ll all look and feel the part. You’ll also have some great photos by the end of the party. Check out our Pinterest board for a bit of burlesque inspiration!

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