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A History of Burlesque

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The world “burlesque” comes from the word “burlesco”, which means comedy in Italian. Burlesque shows began as comedic performances that imitated and mocked popular artists and authors of the time, it wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that burlesque performances began featuring stripteases.

The addition of stripteases to burlesque performances created a provocative allure that fascinated many Americans. Lydia Thompson and her British burlesque group became New York’s biggest “can’t miss” event in the late 1860s when they came to America with acts that featured daring and scandalous content. These women challenged cultural taboos with their risqué costumes, all female casts, and clever social satire performances.

In a time period where the roles of men and women were distinctly different, burlesque was a new form of expression that challenged these roles and pushed social boundaries. The seductive performances were unlike any other of the time, making them exciting and intriguing.

The enactment of prohibition in the 1940s ultimately led to the decline of burlesque in America. The regulation of alcohol led to the shutdown of bars and nightclubs, leaving burlesque shows without an audience and out of luck. By the 1970s burlesque had become virtually nonexistent.

Burlesque made its comeback in America during the 1990s with the formation of the neo-burlesque movement. Modern burlesque shows have become very popular and have evolved into diverse theatrical performances. The acts have kept their comedic aspect but may range anywhere from a striptease to a modern dance performance.

Burlesque performers now have their talent nationally recognized each year with the Miss Exotic World Pageant, where top burlesque honors are awarded to a single performer. The winner of the pageant earns themselves spot in the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.

Now that you’re an expert on the history of burlesque, are you ready to meet LA’s hottest burlesque group? The Lalas will be making an appearance July 22nd-23rd at the Swinomish Casino and Lodge! The Lalas have created a special unseen performance just for us, featuring comedy, classic rock, and even risqué Seattle Seahawks outfits.

Don’t miss out on your chance to see this exclusive performance, get your tickets now!