how to break into the burlesque scene as a newbie

monique aislabie

So you have performed your first Burlesque act on stage which has given you the appetite for more more more!  But you’re asking yourself – “where do I go from here?”.  I have put together some tips about what you can do in order to get your foot in the door and break into the Burlesque scene.  Here we go….


♥.  Having a lot of Burlesque acts in your portfolio doesn’t necessarily make you more professional.  In the beginning you should aim to have three top quality acts.  When you apply to an event or festival they will usually want to have a choice of at least two or three acts.


♥.  Even if you have performed your act already try to keep improving it, constantly re-work your costumes adding more to them when you have the money.  Practice your acts at home to stay motivated and focused.  KEEP VIDEOING yourself every time, so you can see what parts need improving.


♥.  Until you are ready to apply to established events you can look for places to perform within your friends circles at birthday parties and even your local little bar.  The Burlesque scene is built on a DIY attitude, if you can’t find an event that will book you then make one for yourself!  Try to create little jobs for yourself which will give you a deadline to keep you focused.


♥.  When you have two or three strong acts in your portfolio you will need GOOD quality videos of them! Producers don’t hire acts that they haven’t seen, and the more professional your video is, the better it makes you look.  This is a bit of a “what comes first the chicken or the egg” situation because you haven’t got those nice big stages yet to get the video you need.  Again you need to be creative with working out these kinds of little bumps in the road – hire a theatre with some other newbies, perform at a cabaret night for free, or hire a beautiful dance studio etc.


♥.  Don’t be afraid of rejection, it’s all part of being a performer.  Even professionals sometimes get rejected when applying to Festivals and shows.  You have to learn not to take it personally, pick yourself up and focus on the next application.  Don’t give up!


♥.  Take more Burlesque classes.  There is ALWAYS something new to learn.  Workshops are a good way of keeping motivated and staying in touch with other people in the scene.  For example, my Level 3 Workshop is about working on stories and concepts for new acts, I would love to see you there!


♥.  Work on your photo portfolio.  Search for photographers who will photograph you.  Photo shoots are an excellent way to practice body posture, face expression, and your hair & makeup styling.  Professional photographs are an essential part of building your image and profile.


♥.  Get on your computer and research the “who’s-who of the scene” – Berlin – Germany – then worldwide!  Use your detective skills to find out who are the producers of events and festivals, and who does what – where – and how.  Learn about our history of Burlesque and check out the high rollers, Legends and Queens at the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.  Doing your research and knowing the basics goes a long way.  For it is a sign to the people who are currently in the industry that you respect the many years of hard work that has gone into building the scene you are wanting to be a part of.  Another important topic to research is – Cultural Appropriation within the Burlesque scene.  This is a BIG topic in our scene at the moment and it’s important that you take the time to understand what Cultural Appropriation means and how to avoid making these mistakes.


♥.  It’s nearly impossible to get booked if you are only another profile on Facebook (there are so many these days!).  Don’t sit at home on the computer waiting for jobs to come to you.  You have to get out there and meet the people you want to work with and get involved in the scene.  Volunteer at shows as much as you can, offer to stage kitten, distribute flyers, or work on the door, bake a cake and bring it backstage!  You can learn a lot of valuable skills while doing these jobs and make useful contacts.  Volunteering to help can be the most effective way to get your foot in the door.


♥.  Don’t just stay within your group of friends that you graduated with, socialize with the other newbies in the scene!  You can all help each other in different ways.  The more people you know, the more contacts you have, the more you will increase your chances of job opportunities in the future.  After years of experience I have learned that it is the performers who are the friendliest and easiest to work with that get the most bookings.  Stay positive and friendly.  And lastly avoid listening to trivial gossip about other performers or producers, try to make your own experiences with people then decide for yourself!


♥.  Attend as many shows as you can.  Learn from watching live performances, think about what you like and don’t like.  Take other Burlesque newbies with you so you can discuss and talk about the acts.


♥.  Don’t be shy, go and introduce yourself to the performers and host after a show.  Give them a nice compliment about the things you enjoyed in their acts, ask them a question, take a photo with them and then tag using your Burlesque page.  Again don’t be invisible, get yourself noticed!


♥.  Another important offstage job requirement of a Burlesque performer is costume making.  You should try to always have a crafting project on the go.  Developing your crafting and sewing skills is an extremely valuable asset to your showgirl career.  When your not working on your stage costumes you can make things to wear when you go to a show or party e.g. hats, hair pieces, decorating shoes, handbags, taking apart second hand clothing putting them back together and adding to them.  This will not only help your sewing and crafting skills it will also give you that unique edge to stand out in a crowd and show everyone who you are as a performer on and off stage.


♥.  Hair, Makeup and off stage styling is a big part of a Burlesque performers job.  If your not good it, then this is the perfect time to teach yourself!  Do your own styling practice at home.  Research hair and makeup tutorials on youtube and experiment with different styles that you can use on and off stage.  Post pictures on social media about your tips, findings and styling stories.  Other newbies and your friends/fans on social media will be interested in seeing your development, it’s a good way to get likes and traffic to your page.


♥.  I’m not going to lie to you… it is not easy to get started in this industry.  It takes A LOT of determination, hard work, and dedication, you have to be extremely passionate about what you’re doing.  Those few who manage to get through these first difficult steps and go on to succeed are then ready for what it takes to survive in this world of show-biz.  It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either.  You CAN do it and still have huge amounts of fun along the way!  Good luck babes!


– Lady Lou ♥