Burlesque & Bubbly is your tasteful alternative to the conventional hen party, all powder pink and rosé champagne to match your lipstick. Rather than just getting trashed, it’s an opportunity to learn flirty techniques, shake your tail feathers and become a strong empowered woman who don’t need no man (unless you’re the bride to be – don’t dump him on our account).
Hosted by professional dancer/nutcase Rachael Mellor and based in Fonseca’s at the heart of gay town on Stanley St, it’s apt that her sessions should be sign posted with a rainbow.
Guests are encouraged to dress up in all their Ann Summers finery (not the crotchless pants) and will inevitably flap about tightening corsets (‘TIGHTER!!!’) and applying more of just about everything. It felt a bit like the girly sleepover we never had because nobody wanted to be our mate, and many bosoms were squeezed in admiration.
The event is tucked away in a cosy curtained basement away from prying eyes. After being greeted with a glass of fizz the hens prepare a special sentimental keepsake for the bride. Then it’s on to an activity to devise your own sassy burlesque persona involving the name of a first pet (ours was a cat called Ben so it didn’t really work).
The dance lesson involves learning five key burlesque techniques which are incorporated into a routine in which the bride takes centre stage. The song comes from the film Burlesque and the routine is simple, but champagne makes most people tipsy so they won’t notice you being crap anyway.
Afterwards hens receive three glasses of wine each, and the opportunity to play with Rachael’s box of props so Facebook can see just how fit you can be and why on earth didn’t they see it before?
We’d never been to a hen party before and literally lower our voice when uttering the word ‘penis’, so the thought of willy straws, willy piñatas and probably an actual well-oiled willy had us a bit scared.
However, it’s a lovely alternative to the traditional hen do. Burlesque & Bubbly provides a safe environment to explore your sexuality away from the prying eyes of strange men, except for barman Niall who’s a bit strange in that he wasn’t paying us any attention. Gobshite.
It also isn’t strictly for hen parties. Finally turning 18 or 80? Just want to get together with the girls? Divorce finalised? It’s all good – various styles and themes are adaptable to your shindig.
Regular readers already know our take on burlesque; it’s not about what flesh you’re flashing, but what you aren’t. It’s about expressing another side to your personality through narrative and costume, and propping other women up with admiration and encouragement. It’s about being proud to expose your vulnerabilities.
Rachael also runs weekly Jazz-Esque classes which fuse jazz routines and burlesque techniques. She’s a boss teacher and we’ve grown to consider her a close pal. She recognises that it’s all in good fun; that we aren’t all trained dancers and some people aren’t comfortable getting their knockers out (although we personally do it given any opportunity). Beginners classes start in March.
Easy going and an all-round good egg, Rachael is supportive even when you’re rubbish and always has a massive grin. We know we’re biased, but Burlesque & Bubbly is a genuinely lovely event. There’s no penis paraphernalia in sight, and you might even learn a few moves to impress potential roosters. You’re guaranteed a clucking good time (sorry).
Photography by Mina Bihi