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Plethora of Pasties

New Orleans Burlesque Fest Shakin'

Ladies and gentlemen— tighten your garters, New Orleans is about to get vintage. This weekend (9.17-9.20) marks the seventh annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival. Burlesque has long been a French Quarter tradition, but this yearly fest brings the theatrical show into the 21st century with workshops, shows, competitions and a whole lot of strip tease. 


“Burlesque is a theatrical show with dancers that incorporate elaborate costumes, mood lighting, props and other theatrics. It’s not like a stripper on a pole,” explained Rick Delaup, the fest’s producer. “It’s a throwback to the old style of strip tease from the 40s, 50s and 60s, but then a lot of performers do a more modern and edgy performance today. It’s updated.”


Delaup started the Burlesque Festival in 2009 after visiting similar festivals around the country. Since then, the festival has grown to become on of the biggest burlesque festivals in the world.


“Every year, all these great performers from all over the world come to New Orleans and party and put on shows,” Delaup said. “The festival is not just a local thing. It’s international.”


The weekend-long festival kicked-off yesterday with a formal meet and greet and continues today with a book signing and multiple burlesque workshops, including Pastie Pops with Hazel Honeysuckle and Belly Dance with Mad Shake Appeal instructed by Rasa Vitalia. The workshops are open to people of any skill level. 


This evening, though, is the festival’s main attraction— The Queen of Burlesque. Eight of the best burlesque performers, chosen by Delaup from thousands of entries, will compete for the 2015 title of “Queen of Burlesque.” A panel of celebrity judges will pick this year’s Queen, and last year’s Queen, Elle Dorado, will crown her new successor. 


Elle Dorado has only been performing burlesque for two years, but as a competitive figure skater for her whole life, burlesque came as an easy and fun progression. Since she began performing, she has looked at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival as a sort of mecca. 


“The New Orleans Burlesque Festival is really among the top two festivals in the world for burlesque, and it’s hosted in one of the most magical cities in the world. Competing and performing in it had always been a big goal for me,” she elaborated. “The festival attracts the best and brightest performers from around the world, so it’s a great place to meet new performers and showcase our fun new routines.”


Following tonight’s crowning at Harrah’s, the festival will meander over to House of Blues for the Queen’s Ball. Tomorrow (7.19) the vintage fun continues with four workshops and two different performances. 


The party doesn’t stop there, though. On Sunday, burlesque dancers will take over the Country Club for their Retro Pool Party followed by the tropical Closing Tiki Party at Felipe’s Taqueria.  


Elle Dorado says that the festival is truly a fun way to experience burlesque, as a performer or even just as a spectator. 


“The glamour is unparalleled. We have wonderful dancers who are really proficient in their field. We couldn’t have a more talented group of women here,” she detailed. “It’s a really wonderful celebration of femininity, embracing your body and enjoying performing for a group of people who appreciate vintage performance, costumes and everything that is burlesque.”

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