A Survival Guide to Burlesque Elitism

Last week I wrote about my experience of stepping out from beyond the burlesque “community”, feeling like an outsider and elitism in the industry. I was blown away by the response I had with messages from all over the world sent to me, from people telling me their stories that they had experienced and how my blog connected with them. The one thing I did not do in my blog, was offer a solution. Honestly I don’t think there is. In any creative industry, possibly every industry full stop, elitism is going to exist, and as a few suggested, it comes and goes in circles too. Despite that, I thought this week I could provide you with maybe a survival guide on the subject, for those days when you feel you can’t take it anymore and you want to quit.

1. Only you can be responsible for your reaction and not others actions.
I said it last week…. You cant help how people act but you can choose how to react. Try to keep a cool head, and don’t go losing it in public over it. Take measure of your response before you give it (if you feel you have to that is). Try and look beyond the tone that may exist and ask yourself if there is actually some learning in what is being said? Even if someone else conducts themselves unprofessionally, rudely or superiorly, it doesn’t mean you have to conduct yourselves like that in response. Choose how you want to react.

2. A lady only bitches behind closed doors
We all bitch and moan and at times, gossip. Don’t deny it. If you do deny it, you’re full of shit in my books. We all have our frustrations and we all need to vent at times, no matter how illogical, unfounded or unreasonable we are being (or not as it may be at times). That is the nature of the world we live in. However, as suggested, bitch in private and be VERY SELECTIVE about who you are bitching to. Pick someone who you are absolutely close with and is considered a lifelong friend. Don’t make the mistake I have in the past in trusting people who maybe aren’t going to have your back in the long term with your emotional venting. You wouldn’t want them using it as gossip fodder in the future. Also take a look at why you are venting. Its important for our own self development and understanding why we are feeling that way also we can teach ourselves how to avoid it in the future or give ourselves better coping mechanisms. Finally, do it in private. Common spaces are not great for having a whine-fest. Especially back stage! I wholeheartedly encourage a whine with wine though 😊

3. Remove yourself
If it’s getting to you that much, then try and remove yourself from the situation or the elements that are driving you mad. It may be just stepping away from social media for a few days. Or it may be what I did and removed myself from groups and people (both on social media and in reality) to save yourself an ongoing headache. I have also seen people remove themselves from burlesque entirely as a result of others behaviours, particular bullying. It saddens me that it has, and may again, come to that for others. But if you do feel that you just can’t stand it anymore, then you need to resolve within yourself your passion for your art and decide if it is truly others that is driving you to quit. If it is, there are other ways other than quitting outright (See point 1).

4. Do you and just keep on swimming
What more needs to be said? Don’t give up on who you are because other people are fuckwits. Quietly keep working away at your projects and what you do best. Your focus should be on you. Let spite motivate you if you have to. Show them what you’re really made of.

5. It takes a village
Pull those who support you tighter, feed off their energy if you must until yours is fully restored. Sometimes their light and love can be shared to pull you back to your fighting glorious self. Bitch to them, be inspired by them, do something non-burlesque related with them.

6. There is more to life than the “community”
I know it’s a horrible thing to say, but there is more to life than burlesque and the fantasy land of social media we live in. Find yourself something you love outside of burlesque, particular if this is your full-time job, you need to have another release. Do the things that make you happy, spend time with the people that make you happy. Burlesque will always be there, you can come back to it after all.

I love burlesque. I love the people in it, I love how involved I am with it and I love how much I have contributed to NZ Burlesque. But you can only really hate something if you truly love it, and I admit I have hated it. Loathed it. Loathed the people, loathed the contribution that feels like obligation and loathed having to drag myself out and make myself pretty again. But I wouldn’t be me without it either. Not anymore. It has motivated me, it inspires me, it has helped me discover myself; the people amazing me continuously with what they do not only in burlesque but in the real world too. Even though I won’t go back to the groups that I left last week it doesn’t mean I’m any less a part of burlesque either. I won’t let the behaviours of a few rip me from my passion and my business.

Thank you to everyone who reached out last week. You are all incredible, and I’m proud of you for sticking it out and pushing through your difficulties.

I hope that this survival guide will help you fight through your bad days, when you feel that the “community” is against you, for when you feel like an outsider and for when you need to reminding yourself that you are just as strong on your own.

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