Studio L’Amour Burlesque
When I told my boyfriend’s buddy that I was going to start burlesque dance lessons, he called said boyfriend a lucky bastard, and expressed the sudden feeling he had to punch him in the face. I think what our friend was missing here is that if you have to take classes to be sexy, you might be in for a train wreck. I was expecting the ultimate tragedy in anticipation of the class, but ended up walking away with an extra pep in my step.
I signed up for classes at Studio L’Amour, a wonderfully decadent, fabulously tiny dance studio in the West Loop. The studio is run by Chicago’s own Michelle L’Amour, a burlesque goddess known all over the country. She was named Miss Exotic World in 2005, and in response to pleas from her fans, she opened her instructional studio in June of 2008.
The website advertises the obvious bachelorette bookings, but don’t be fooled: Studio L’Amour is the real deal. The sitting room is a comfy cluster of velvety arm chairs and a seductive sofa. The walls of the rehearsal space are lined with headshots autographed by other world-famous burlesque performers. Record jackets and framed portraits pay homage to the heyday of burlesque and remind you that sexy doesn’t have to be plastic, after all. The women in the photos, students in my class, and the instructors are of all shapes and sizes. On the first night of my class, our teacher even harped on us for not letting our butts “jiggle” enough. Burlesque is definitely about flaunting what you’ve got, and recognizing that all women have something. And ladies, we should be dancing and jiggling that something without fear or shame.
Ever the history nerd, I was excited to take burlesque classes in a city that put one of the most famous burlesque routines on the map. At the 1933 World’s Fair, Sally Rand debuted the fan dance, and was arrested four times in a single day at the fair, for perceived public nudity. Sally also debuted the Bubble Dance, another famous burlesque routine with staying power, in which the dancer maneuvers behind and around a giant opaque ball, almost giving you a glimpse of the goods.
My basic class was not so adventurous, but we did cover the fundamentals of the form, such as the different walks, the bumps and grinds, and the “shimmy.” Studio L’Amour offers Basic, Beginner/Intermediate, Intermediate/Advanced, as well as a Ballet for Burlesque course. The classes build on one another, and the Basic class I attended was essential. Burlesque is not like any other dance form. It’s about isolating muscles you didn’t know you had, making this physical feat appear effortless and sexy, and camping it up to boot. Burlesque is about fun, sexy fun, and the theatrical element makes you forget your fears.
Visit Studio L’Amour’s website for class pricing and information. Even if you don’t wind up the next Dita von Teese of our generation, you will have the time of your life, get an incredible workout, and gain ultimate power over your boyfriend’s comrades. And, most importantly, you will learn that every body, every single body on earth, is sexy, and you might be surprised by the way you can make it move. Get thee to Studio L’Amour.