Burlesque Bash Offers Holiday Fun — for Grownups!

Burlesque Bash Offers Holiday Fun — for Grownups!

Burlesque Dancer Lady AnnaBelle performs at The Burly Soirée (Photo by Striking Designs)

THIS SUNDAY, DEC. 17, Houston’s premiere and perhaps most unique burlesque troupe The Divine Darlings presents a special Ho Ho Holiday edition of The Burly Soirée at 8th Wonder Distillery.


The evening will feature comedic, over-the-top performances by Divine Darlings dancers Foxy Tocin, Ivy Divine, and Sin Pellegrina, headliner Peter Pecker, and special guests Devilish Damia and the hunky Flip Oliver. Leading the Darlings is the illustrious Lady AnnaBelle, a.k.a. Taylor Ann, founder of the troupe and Houston Divine Studio, where adults can learn the foundations of classic burlesque, including shimmies, bump and grind, glove peels, and boa play, as well as formal technique and dance fundamentals. The studio, which also offers yoga and meditation classes, prides itself on being a safe and inviting space, and beginners are always welcome.

Lauren L., who performs with The Divine Darlings as Holly GoSpankMe (Somewhere, Audrey Hepburn is smiling!), can attest to that welcomeness and the transformative power burlesque has had on her life. Lauren’s first experience with burlesque was seeing a performance by Houston’s The Moonlight Dolls, and it was love at first sight. The women onstage exuded confidence and a sense of empowerment, qualities that she was desperately in need of at the time. “I was at such a low point in terms of how I felt about myself,” says Lauren, who has a lifetime of experiences with sexual assault and trauma. “It seemed unattainable for me to ever get to that level. But I immediately thought, ‘Oh, man. I want that!’” Lauren attended her first Divine Studio burlesque class with Taylor last year and soon found herself performing with the troupe. “It very much felt like a taking back of my own power,” says Lauren, who onstage has donned a cotton candy wig and tassels and poured champagne over her body; transformed from Little Red Riding Hood into the Big Bad Wolf; and strutted her stuff a giant, walking vagina. (We’ll leave that one to your imagination.)

Humor, if you haven’t figured it out already, is a key element of burlesque. The fact that laughing is so closely tied to healthy breathing is not lost on Ann, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at a very young age and found yoga, breathwork, and meditation key to managing her mental health. “If I were not dancing, I might not be here,” says Taylor, who opened Houston Divine Studio in 2018 to teach adult women how to feel good about themselves. “She pours her heart and soul into taking care of these people and making sure they can express themselves and feel comfortable, regardless of experience or size,” says Lauren. Both she and Ann agree there is less stigma in our current cultural moment regarding the importance of mental health. “The more we talk about it, the more we realize we’re not alone,” says Lauren.

Multiple vendors will be at The Burly Soirée selling handcrafted items and “burlesque and beyond” accessories. Attendees can bring in food from nearby restaurants and food trucks, and 8th Wonder offers handcrafted cocktails made from an in-house line of liquors and “high quality” treats from their Cannabis Corner.

Unlike most burlesque shows, a Divine Darlings performance is fun and interactive, with dancers making eye contact with the audience, typically made up of couples and groups of friends, and even inviting them onstage to partake in some sexy silliness. Expect plenty of skin, and plenty of smiles. Lewd or inappropriate behavior from a Divine Darlings crowd is very rare.

“Our audience feels very much like our friends,” says Lauren.

Holly GoSpankMe (photo by Showgirl Studios)

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