For the second year in a row, the Ottawa Burlesque Festival has four days of workshops, events and shows to attend. They had a sold-out launch last year, and promise to build on that precedent. Rhapsody Blue, one of the festivals organizers, shared some highlights that the audience can expect. “The Festival’s headliners include living legend Judith Stein, Jo Weldon of the New York School of Burlesque, Montreal’s renowned BonBon Bombay and Toronto burlesque trailblazer Coco Framboise,” Blue says. They’ll be joined by a selection of local and international talent from all over the world to bring the people of Ottawa the finest performance around.
The talent for the main event is obviously the biggest drawing factor, but right behind it is the lascivious and decadent look into the world of burlesque. The seductive nature of the performers is bound to make you sweat a little under your collar, but just in case it fails to warm your blood, they’ve added special evening events. “There are workshops covering pinup hair-styling, clowning, fan-dancing and more.” Blue says, “There are also the workshops, which are a great opportunity for those interested in the art of burlesque to delve a little deeper, meet some artists, and pick up a few skills.” There is also the chance to meet Burlesque legend Judith Stein, who launched her career in burlesque in the 70’s after answering a help wanted ad for topless go-go girls that read ‘no experience necessary.’
Local burlesque entertainers will be featured at official dinners held by a variety of Ottawa’s hottest locations. On Friday September 18, the Official Festival Dinner is hosted by Kinki Lounge Kitchen, from 7pm to 9pm before the Friday After Dark show at The Gladstone Theatre. Ottawa Burlesque Festival Ticket Holders receive a 2-for-1 deal on their choice of appetizers and have their choice of ‘Showgirl Cocktail’ drink specials for $6. Saturday September 19 at Share Freehouse from 4:30-6:30pm hosts a pre-show followed by a post-show from 10pm-12:30.
While she recommends all of the programming, Blue points out that the Friday show at the Gladstone Theatre and Saturday Gala will have the highest concentration of burlesque fans and visiting artists. “Festivals typically comprise a melange of local and visiting talent, and the Ottawa Burlesque Festival is no exception.” Blue says, “We have artists visiting from all over Canada, as well as artists visiting from as far away as New Zealand.”
“The burlesque community worldwide is enormous, vibrant and robust.” Blue says, “In Ottawa, despite there being a very large number of performers and regular shows to attend, the burlesque scene remains just shy of attaining mainstream status. There are those who have been attending local burlesque shows for nearly a decade, but every week I meet people who are discovering burlesque for the first time. It is our hope that the festival will help welcome more Ottawa art-lovers into our glittery world.”
Apt613 has 2 pairs of tickets for the performance on Saturday, September 19 at the Bronson Centre. To enter, send an email with the subject header ‘Burlesque Fest’ to firstname.lastname@example.org. Contest closes at noon on Wednesday, September 16. Two winners will be selected by random draw.