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Risks Of Dating In Rome

Aug 8, 2008
You've got to seem windswept and interesting. At the same time you've got to maintain eye contact and speak up, fall on the right side of the confidence / arrogance cusp, and not - I repeat not - sweat or mention either vulvas or ball sacks. It's a lot to think about really, especially in the early days of a new romance.

One way of circumnavigating the pit of early date clangers is to avoid conversation. Cinema and theatre are obvious contenders in the "let someone else do the entertaining" sphere. Or you could go to a gig, or the opera. But there's something else, something mildly daring but potentially good fun: Burlesque.

Burlesque is the art of tassel-twirling, theatrical shows, often involving striptease routines. Brought to the mainstream via Dita Von Teese in her signature over-sized martini glass, the neo-burlesque scene may be small but it's popular with everyone from Marilyn Manson to Janet Jackson (Janet Jackson is one of the many celebrities to have been spotted at burlesque events in recent years). Rome's burlesque scene hinges on monthly events at the Micca Club (Via Pietro Micca 7a), which follows in the footsteps of the vanguard clubs of London, Berlin, and New York.

Burlesque can actually be a participatory event, and audience involvement is often invited. Normally the audience is donned in suitable but non-compulsory attire for the occasion: Everything from corsets, stockings, and feathers to pasties (nipple covers). It's an opportunity to dust off that special something at the back of your closet - but only if you want to (you know you do).

Academic viewpoints have tried to distance burlesque from stripping, but staging femininity including the female body is very much a part of burlesque. In many ways Dita Von Teese may be the exception in her profession, and the work of burlesque is not a quick road to glamorous lifestyles and riches for the majority of burlesque performers. There's also the variety of performance to consider, with some artists and acts leaning more toward fetish.

But because of its penchant for comedy, glamour, and excess, burlesque is popular with both the sexes. It's the balance between taboo-breaking entertainment and dazzling sights and sounds that makes it such a winner, and it's easy to get hooked. It's arguably the type and mix of audience that sets burlesque apart from more sleazy stripping scenarios: It's a different audience-performer relationship.

In uptight societies burlesque is subversive. In most modern societies it's liberating: Nothing is airbrushed, and naked people look like real naked people, equipped with wrong bits wobbling. At the very least, locating the burlesque circuit together will be a bit of an icebreaker.

The Micca Club holds an annual burlesque festival, which in March 2008 ran from March 27 - March 30. The Micca Club is closed during the month of August.
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