Feathers, sequins and hand sanitiser – Club Burlesque blessed us with a show that was safe and sexy at a time when we needed it most. Hidden within the De Parel Spiegeltent at Woodside Pleasure Garden was a Burlesque group that gripped the audience and delivered laugh upon laugh, despite the dulled energy in the room.

Stepping foot in the tent was a peculiar experience – it was quiet, far quieter than any Fringe Show I had been to prior. The audience was masked up, socially distanced and filled 30% of the seats – a devastating scene for a sold out show. Initially, it felt like our laughs and cheers did not do the show justice – our small crowd seemed hesitant to cause a ruckus.

However, The Sugar Duchess, hostess, performer, comedic and singer, shook as wide awake and refused to let us give 50%. The Sugar Duchess’s ability to banter with the crowd and inspire us to be saucy, naughty and loud was remarkable – she transported us from a nervous tent to a sensual and roaring underground Burlesque show. 

The acts introduced by The Sugar Duchess were incredibly talented and delighted us with their own take on Burlesque, from the traditional art of tease to dancing and even aerial work. Many of the acts performed to the strong and stunning vocals of Misty Falls, which amplified the underground ambience in the tent. 

I was thrilled to watch some more traditional Burlesque performances by Lolly Moon, Penelope Pop and Bettie Bombshell. They delivered everything that I crave from the art of tease, celebrating the female form in all its glory. 

But, Club Burlesque also switched it up with two duos – Peaches and Cream, and Promenade a Deux – both of which commanded the stage with ease. Perhaps most exciting for me was the aerial Drag King, Brendan Knight, who reimagined the image of Freddie Mercury like no other. 

There were fleeting moments that felt a little unpolished, like when they were transitioning between acts. However, The Sugar Duchess and the acts themselves did well to pull us back in whenever the crowd seemed distracted. 

Club Burlesque provided me with the escape I so desperately needed. It reminded me what it means to be human, to be female and to celebrate sensuality – something that seems easy to forget in this pandemic-ridden world. Club Burlesque was a sure sign of the good things to come with Fringe’s two week encore, and I can’t wait to see what else Tease Industries brings us in the future. 

Feature image credit: Fringe World Club Burlesque