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So my cheesecakes and sweethearts, cherries and sailors, now you can come out of your polka-dot closets and feathers-lined boudoirs, put your polished pumps on and gel that fringe, and rush-rush-rush quickly out – witness the rise of burlesque (best known through Marilyn Manson´s ex, stunning Dita Von Teese) – it has reached Helsinki at last! This was long due – we needed it: something fresh, elegant, feminine, but playful, naughty-flirty, stylish and excessively creative.
Helsinki Burlesque Festival premiered in Winter 2008 and is to become an annual event from now on. And it came not without a friend – a month later Helsinki introduced Hula Boutique, the elegant opening of which was on 29.2. with drinks and snacks served cozily in a beautifully decorated store very near the Kamppi metro station. Honey to my heart and a strict diet to my wallet was this opening, I have to say, but oh, how grateful I am to this new beginning and how inspired I am for all the forthcoming goodies! In fact every day should be a dress-up´n´tease day – if I had to sum up the impression from those three days. So for 31.1.-2.2. have at least three different outfits prepared and do not neglect what the flyer says: do come overdressed!
As any self-respecting festival, Helsinki Burlesque is a 3-day event with the actual festival part on the last day, celebrated very stylishly at Ravintola Kaisaniemi, where later in the year Tuska will spread its harsh metal forces. Meanwhile, in the peace and quietness of a dark Winter night, Burlesque set some very good karma in that park.
The festival took off on January´s last day at club Dubrovnik. Party meets art: after having reserved a seat (a necessary pre-condition), the guests were gathered to enjoy a night of smoking (allowed indoors – yes!), drinking (yes-yes-yes!) and drawing! Dr Sketchy´s Anti-Art school hosted diverse artists and models, among which is a known ´blonde bubble of champagne´ – Ms Sugar Kane! All in a very warm and yet classy atmosphere where ´art school met classic cabaret´ – how does that sound? The entry fee is rather low (€10) if you think what you´re getting in return. A lovely arranged evening and one party outfit you can cross off your list, 2 more to go.
The first evening was a modest warmup and it´s only getting better: burlesque workshop by the Knicker Kittens! It´s perfect – a sexy celebration of curvy girls learning the art of ´peel´n´tease´ from other sexy curvy girls. Lovely is the word – like James Dean´s childhood collection of magazine cut-outs came to live and set to play together! The workshop lasts whole 3 hours, packed with everything a good girl needs to know about this wonderful art. I can imagine not many men would be there to learn, but oh, how many would die to be there and see the girlies heavily engaged in the learning process: discussing different outfits (feathers, garters, corsets, lace, stockings, gloves, tassels), to what music (slow or more upbeat) and how exactly is it to be done. Basically a girly party of what to wear and how to take it off: all in the style of genuine vintage glamour!
If those classes were in my school´s rooster, I´d study until the doctorate! So lovelies, don´t be shy – be a good student and indulge yourself in the miracle of learning. Each workshop concentrated on what the participants most wanted, so a very interactive and personal experience in every sense. Once again, reservations are necessary and tickets to be purchased in advance (€50). Countdown of outfits by now: 2 at least, or more, depending on how often you got undressed during the workshop.
Saturday night was THE night. Very strict dress code at the doors of Ravintola Kaisaniemi and soon the restaurant was a wilderness of imagination of any adolescent boy of the 50s, although I´m sure age and number don´t matter here: which man would not want to be among beautiful ladies in tight dresses with splits and frills, garter-belts, stockings with back seams, high-heels, curls and pouty berry lips?! Delicious! And when all this moves around on high-heels and dances and flirts and drinks, I can only wonder what an idiot Marilyn Manson must be for leaving his amazing wife for a flat, bone-like new girlfriend?!
The night was with performances by Miss Sugar Kane of England, by auburn tease Miss Anne Thropy of France, by the Amazing Knicker Kittens Burlesque Revue of Sweden and Finland´s own Ms Olivia Rouge. The “sinful sounds” of the night were served by the king of burlesque (lucky man to be one of the few male members there actually are!) DJ Chaz Royale along with unique kings of trash rock´n´roll The Skreppers and Atomic Blast, with their irresistible “wavy surf tunes”. And there were competitions for “The Best Dressed” with lovely prizes of exquisite and exclusive designer shoes.
I´ve lost count of outfits… Remember Christina Aguilera in her most loved ´Candyman´ video: it´s like that, only even more colorful, juicier, tipsier and with ten times more dancing acts, outfits and pretty people. Indescribable simply, but with all my experience of themed parties I visited in Finland, this one is by far the brightest, literally – as I already marked it in red for winter 2009 and figuratively, as such gathering of beautiful people with style, taste and creativity really encourages me for what the future for the Finnish (fetish?) scene holds. One lesson learnt solidly for sure: Marilyn Manson is an idiot.
Stalker.cd cordially thanks Ms Kiki Hawaiji and Ms Betty Blakcheart for assisting our journalists at this event!
Marina Sidyakina, transl. Kathleen Gransalke, photos: TK, Pekka Saarinen