There’s something special about the 3rd Burlesque Extravaganza being held at Barnsley’s Trades Club. Many have guffawed the choice of venue, but fact is The Trades, along with the similar Polish Club are two of the better live music venues in town; both having a wonderful curtained stage, great sound, good ale, seating and standing area and nice staff. It might be arguable that there any other venues that offer all of this but what is true is that no other central venues are as open to offer a range of live metal, indie, pop, folk, blues and theatre as these are.
Event organiser, Danny La Blue says that she has had a couple of offers for the event to be held elsewhere, such as bars and restaurants and when she turns around and says she is sticking with The Trades, folk just don’t get it.
Having a Burlesque Extravaganza in The Trades is fitting. It has a kind of kitchen sink glamour to it. Think images of 1950’s housewives in floral a-lines and their seamed stockings – an image common now thanks to Cath Kidston and the re-emergence and popularity of cupcake baking and home crafts. Think those famous record sleeves by The Smiths; a band happy to juxtapose portraits of Elvis and James Dean with Elsie Tanner or Castleford’s Viv Nicholson who became famous over night after winning the equivalent of £3 million on the Pools back in 1961. Think the working class infatuation with Ziggy Stardust and 70’s glam rock.
The Trades is the only central venue fitting for a real burlesque show. The lounge is a grand unification of people all types tonight and a perfect blend of the working class and the glamorous; where the mundanity of everyday life is turned from chrysalis into butterfly and wear tattoos, beehives and baggy tights all sit comfortably under spotlights and red velvet drapes.
Around the edges of the lounge are a number of people selling their wares as fine artists specialising in oil paintings of 50’s pin-ups, vintage fashion retailers, handmade vintage inspired dress makers and fancy dress costumers. All fitting but that isn’t why we are really here. As the audience awaits titillation, event emcee Em Brulee starts proceeding with jokes about cheese and gynaecology and a couple of songs, mixing Nina Simone and Amy Winehouse. She goes down a storm and is the perfect host.
The first half of the show plays host to Glorian Gray, Bettina Spankenhaus, Evelyn Entice, Daisy Lane and Heid Bang Tidy. My highlights of that first half were definitely Daisy Lane’s bored house-wife, and Bettina Spankenhaus’ cowgirl with a thing for whips; all very funny and very sexy. And crowd went wild for first-half finale Glorian Gray’s trampoline titty-twister.
The interlude saw space for a magician whose tricks were really just old rope and a beginning of the second half that lagged slightly but a couple of acts in and the best was genuinely yet to come. The finale of Bettina Spankenhaus’ Phantom of the Opera was breathtaking, original and heartfelt – not to mention hot. To come up with acts as original as these, genuinely takes some talent. Burlesque is a lot more than grinding a chair in a leotard.
It seems that the real gem here by all accounts though is the statuesque Heidi Bang Tidy’s who’s Betty Page looks crossed with a real British Carry-On sense of humour gave her a real edge and her dirty lollipop lady routine had me in stitches.
In all, the show was an amazing triumph and probably worth a lot more that the £6 charged. The show is genuinely accessible to most and will appeal to many more of you and you’d think. I cannot wait for the fourth instalment that will be with us in October. Event organisers Danny La Blue and Ambellina Dreamer should be applauded for bringing to Barnsley a show such as this.