Shimmy and Shake.

There seems to be a Burlesque movement sweeping across Chicago these days.  From classes to festivals and improv, I can’t pick up a newspaper without hearing about Burlesque.  And I’m NOT complaining, Burlesque is hot hot hot right now!

Being sort of a research nerd, I wanted to find out exactly how Burlesque got to Chicago.  I was shocked to find out the at earliest Chicago Burlesque performance dates back to the Worlds Columbian Exposition in 1893, when a dancer known as ‘Little Egypt’ performed the “hootchie-kooch.”   Then in 1933, the great fan-dancer Sally Rand performed at the Century of Progress World Fair and was arrested four times in one day for alleged indecent exposure.

Today’s Burlesque performances are a tribute to the early days when Burlesque was more theatrical entertainment with colorful costumes, comedy skits, chorus lines and the occasional striptease.  Here are some featured classes, shows and improv taking place in Chicago.

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If you’re looking to take a class for fitness or fun, check out  Red Hot Annie’s Basic Burlesque.   Classes take  place every Monday from 8:30-9:30p at De Maira Dance Studio (4705 W. Lawrence Ave.)  There you can learn the art of the bump and grind, shimmys and shakes and truly release your inner dive.


The Windy City Burlesque Fest 2011 is being held March 17-19 at the Greenhouse Theatre (2257 N. Lincoln.)  Featuring local, national and international performers with a “mission to celebrate the present, honor the past and showcase the future of Burlesque performance.”  Tickets are $20 per show or $100 for a festival pass.  On March 17 @9pm, they’re hosting an Opening Night party at Hydrate (3458 N. Halsted.)

Belmont Burlesque Revue presents a new show each month at the Playground Theatre (3209 N. Halsted.)  We’re talking old school burlesque performances.  They’re also co-sponsors of the Windy City Burlesque Fest.  Tickets are $10. The next new show will be on April 23rd.

Every Wednesday in March, the Debonair Social Club (1575 N. Milwaukee) presents ‘No Tell Motel’ featuring various local burlesque performers. 


Gorilla Tango Theatre is featuring two Burlesque parodies right now.  Boobs and Goombas: A Super Mario Burlesque and Gleeks and Freaks: A Glee Burlesque Musical.  Both shows are Rated R.  18 and older only please.  Be sure to check their website for dates and times.

With all these options, there is no reason to not check out some Chicago Burlesque shows.  Who knows you might even find a new hobby!

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