The shuttle will leave at 6pm and then again at 7pm from the main hotel lobby. We will have representatives in the hotel lobby to greet you, check you off the sign-up list, and direct you to the shuttle. On the bus get into the party mood with giveaways and more from Velvet Swing and Buddy’s, including raffle tickets for a chance to win at Buddy’s glass shop! And once you reach your destination enjoy a 20% discount on Velvet Swing, Happy Apple, and Pearl20 products plus 10% off the rest of the store. Get more info on Velvet Swing HERE.
So how do you sign up? After visiting registration and picking up your badge, simply visit the BurlyShoppe table in the Emerald Foyer and put your name on the list! Each shuttle can only hold about 20 people, so sign up early to make sure you have a seat.
And these deals aren’t strictly for the Thursday field trip. Visit Buddy’s anytime from Wednesday to Sunday and let them know you’re a BurlyCon attendee for your discounts at their shop and on Velvet Swing! Get more info and directions to Buddy’s here.
Now for some fine print – the hotel is technically on Federal property, so make sure to obey all Federal laws while on-site at BurlyCon.
So this is your first time to Seattle? First thing’s first. The rumors are true and it does rain here a lot! If you want to try and fit in like a Seattle-ite leave your umbrella at home and pack a jacket with a hood instead. Seattle-ites don’t bother with the hassle of an umbrella because of how frequently the weather can change. This means having good shoes to wear too! But don’t forget your swimsuit, there is always time to get in the hot tub at the hotel no matter how chilly it may be outside!
Speaking of rain, make sure to bring your warm clothes! Sure, we’ll be toasty in the hotel (except when walking from the hotel to the convention space) but once you venture outside it’ll be chilly. Now would be a great time for you to dust off your rain boots and pack your gloves, scarves, hats, and layers. We also appreciate unique looks so don’t be afraid of strutting around town in your outrageous prints or bright colors!
Travel Around Seattle
And if you would like to strut downtown it’s easy to get there from the airport via the Light Rail which will set you back a few dollars each way. The Light Rail stop is directly across the street from the hotel, but make sure you know how late it’s running if you’re out at night. Some of the stops and points of interest along the rail line are:
International District/Chinatown Station
Some fun attractions at this stop: Seattle Pinball Museum, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, Hing Hay Park. Not to mention all of the AMAZING food that you can find in the International District plus a Dasio and the Uwajimaya.
Pioneer Square Station
Perfect for the history buff; you’ll find: Smith Tower, Underground Tour, Waterfall Garden Park, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park near this stop.
University Street Station
Like art? Then don’t miss the Seattle Art Museum – Currently there is an Andrew Wyeth exhibit.
This has some of the most iconic Seattle spots, including: Westlake Park, Pike Place Market, the infamously gross but intriguing Gum Wall, Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle waterfront, and the Great Wheel. Go for a boat ride around The Sound and enjoy a sunset if you have the time!
Get more info on the Light Rail HERE.
Eat like a Seattle-ite
If you’d like to try a few local favorites there are a couple of things that I recommend:
Salmon. While we are out of peak salmon season, Seattle is known for the different types of Salmon that you can find here; Chinook or King, Coho, or Sockeye. If you are looking to splurge try cedar plank salmon where the salmon is smoked on a cedar plank.
Geoduck clam – Ah, the geoduck. It’s a delightfully phallic looking clam that is found in Puget Sound. If you’re feeling brave give it a try while you are here!
Tarter sauce is our condiment of choice and it’s likelier that we’ll order tarter sauce to dip our fries into than anything else.
You’ll also find an amazing variety of Asian food. From Dim Sum to Pho. Korean, Chinese, Thai, or Japanese- the influence from these cultures are intertwined into the Seattle experience. The International District is one place to find a variety of these foods in one walkable area.
Seattle is especially friendly to vegetarians and vegans. Restaurants typically have options on the menu to accommodate different diets as well as restaurants dedicated to plant based diets.
Near the Hotel
The Famous Goodwill Glitter Sale!
The 34th annual Glitter Sale is happening during BurlyCon weekend. What is the Glitter Sale you asked? “On Saturday, November 11 and Sunday, November 12 Seattle Goodwill will host our annual Glitter Sale featuring all things sparkly, shiny and otherwise glamorous. We have designer, vintage, and unique one-of-a-kind clothing items and accessories for sale. Designer pieces include names such as Burberry, Prada, DVF, Kate Spade, Dooney & Bourke, Marc Jacobs, Betsy Johnson, Coach, Michael Kors and more. Racks will be restocked throughout the weekend.”
In short, Goodwill hordes the good stuff during the year and over 1 weekend they sell everything that has been donated that they deem super shiny. If you’d like to try your luck at the Glitter Sale here is what you need to know and how to get there:
9:00a.m. – 6:00p.m.
Saturday, November 11 & Sunday, November 12
16 minutes by car
50-60 minutes via public transportation:
From the airport take the light rail to the International District stop
Once you exit the tunnel you’ll be on 5th Ave S
Head South bound towards Uwajimaya
You’ll pass S King St, S Weller St, S Lane St
On South Dearborn St take a left and walk eastbound to 13 Ave S
Take a left on 13th Ave S
Walk 1 block to S Lane St and take a right
The Goodwill will be on your left.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of course and by no means an extensive list of things to explore in Seattle. However, it should help you get started and welcome to the Emerald City!
Think of BurlyCon as burlesque’s summer camp! It’s a weekend off from show mode, so wear what makes you comfortable. We do offer the chance to dress up for our themed special events (see below). Leave space in your suitcase for a few glamorous items, and be aware that your yoga pants will probably see the light of day far more than your beaded evening gowns.
What to Pack
– Comfortable clothing – think yoga pants, jeans & t-shirts, whatever you wear normally off stage!
– Comfortable shoes. Sandals and flip flops are fine inside but remember it does get wet and cold when you’re walking between buildings outside.
– Warmer layers: hat, jacket, and an umbrella or raincoat. Seattle in November is going to be cold and rainy! The convention hall(bulk of classes/events) and main hotel building(hotel rooms & hospitality) are connected by a covered, but open, walkway so you will not be indoors at all times. And if you plan on exploring Seattle you’ll definitely want some rain protection.
– Dancewear (leggings, legwarmers, tank tops, etc)
– Character shoes/practice dance heels
– Swimsuit (pool and hot tub at the hotel)!
– A robe (to wear over revealing outfits in public hotel spaces)
– Water bottle
– Your favorite snacks
– A crafting or costume project you want advice on
– Fans/Boas/Gloves/Stockings (if you are taking a class with those things)
– Pasties (if you want to learn to twirl)
– Hair accessories (if you are taking a hair class)
– Wig (if you are taking a wig class)
– Make-up (for make-up classes and events)
– Notebook and pen (or technological equivalent)
– Camera (or smartphone) so you can #BurlyConX all over Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
And of course double check your planned classes to make sure you have everything you may need for them. If you haven’t already started planning which classes you want to attend go visit our class schedule and start planning!
Networking & Buying!
– Business Cards or Flyers for you and/or your troupe or show. Now is the time to network!
– CASH for the Vending Area – you will want everything! Many vendors also accept CC and there is an ATM on-site, however cash is always reliable and easier to budget.
Particulars for the Special Events
Bring your favorite vintage Hollywood outfit for this annual mix & mingle time!
Friday Night: Class Photo!
The Class of 2017 BurlyCon photo will be taken *right before the dance* – So come dressed for the Disco Ball Gala!
-But don’t forget a pair of comfy shoes to switch out.
Saturday Night: BURLESQUE STORY-TELLING – The X-Rated version
-Bed time casual (lingerie or flannel it’s up to you, but remember a robe to stay warm and cover!)
Get all the details on the events on this page.
We hope this list helps you plan and prepare. And of course if you have any other tips feel free to share them with us on social media whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook! Thank you to the entire Media Team and everyone that has helped us put together this list in the past!
Who are you: Kiki Mustang & Lola Love
BurlyCon Job Title: Kiki: Caucus and Panels Coordinator, Lola: Director of Programming
How long have you volunteered for BurlyCon? Kiki: Two years, this is my first year as
Caucus and Panels Coordinator. Lola: 5 years
Location: Kiki: Seattle, WA, USA, Lola: Honolulu, HI
What is the difference between a panel and a caucus?
KM: My understanding is that a panel has a few experts on a topic discuss said topic to an
audience, sharing their insights and expertise. There should be a moderator to help keep time,
ensure everyone on the panel gets a chance to speak, and generally guide the conversation so
that it stays relevant and interesting. Sometimes the audience an ask questions or participate in
some way, although this is not required (that I can think of).
When I think of Caucus, I think of people coming together around a common experience or
framework that they use to walk through the world. There’s mingling and sharing…a bit of
structured activities and a bit of free time. A moderator or two is very helpful to break the ice,
bring people together, and encourage whatever conversations can be empowering, insightful,
and meaningful to that particular group. There is less 'audience' like in a panel.
LL: A caucus is set up so that folks gather to meet and mingle based on a common experience.
It is loosely structured and created so that it provides a space for mingling, discussion, and
connecting with the group. In a caucus everyone is participating and everyone has opportunity
to create dialogue.
Panels are more structured and have a panel of speakers the team considers experts in the
topic. It is led by a moderator who guides the conversation by asking questions, keeping folks
on track and sometimes accepting questions from the audience.
We also hold Round tables which like panels, are led by a moderator. The difference is there is
not a panel and everyone is included in the discussion. The moderator keeps the conversation
focused much like panels.
Why is it important to offer these at BurlyCon?
KM: It helps build community.
LL: We often select panels, caucuses and round tables based on what we see happening in our
community. Panels are a great way to take conversations we see happening online and give
folks a chance to discuss them in person. We also choose topics based on proposals. We know
the community is in need of a conversation when we receive multiple proposals for the same
panel which often happens. I’d say the goal of these is to promote dialogue, build community
and to educate.
How are the panelists chosen?
LL: A combination of proposals submitted, moderators selecting folks and the programming
team selecting folks. We always try to have diversity in our panels so we are getting multiple
KM: The panel moderator gives me a list of people they would like to solicit to be on the panel. I
contact them, ask if they are willing and available, answer any questions they may have, then
either thank them for their time if they decline, or put them in touch with the moderator(s) if they
How are the caucus’ chosen?
LL: Many are suggested through our proposal application process. There are some that we
include every year because we think they are important (Newbie, 12 Step, POC, etc)
I see in my program that there is an Open caucus. What is that?
KM: Not sure, but I sure do want to snag one for Latinx Gente!!!
LL: The Programming team realizes we can’t think of everything so we created Open Caucuses
so that folks can self organize and have a space to meet that is private.
How do I sign-up to hold a caucus?
LL: Sign up at the registration desk. It is pretty easy! Just organize your group and then sign up.
We will add the caucus to our evening newsletter if we get the info in time.
How do I let attendees know about my caucus?
KM: Great question. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use all platforms available to you!
LL: We encourage you to use Social Media. We have a BurlyCon Facebook group. If you plan
ahead we can add the caucus to the newsletter and possibly the app (EventXD) but we need to
know the day ahead.
Anything else you’d like us to know about panels and caucuses?
KM: From what I can tell from my newbie shoes, the BurlyCon programming team and BurlyCon
directors put in a metric ton of thought, care, attention, intention, strategy and hours into
curating the right balance of caucuses, panels, classes, breaks, events, and everything else that
is ‘happening’ at any given moment of the Con (within the logistic/reality constraints). There
aren’t enough hours in the day to hold every caucus or panel or class, and it’s inevitable that
you will have to choose between many exciting possible events to attend at any given moment.
Please fill out those class evaluations and let us all know what you think and what you need and
what you appreciate! It does get noticed and considered! It really does help fuel the Con!
LL: We create these for YOU. We hope you will attend and then give us feedback on what you
liked and what you think we can do to improve. The programming team works year around and
our main goal is to create a space where people learn, connect and grow. Your feedback is
important so that we can create programming that you want. 🙂
We collaborated with the amazingly talented Mexican artist Lady Love to bring you a collectors item like none other.
Because this is our 10th year celebrating burlesque, Legends, and the history & art of our craft we wanted to do something special for all of you. Lady Love graciously reached out to us wanting to work together and now we give you this spectacular piece commemorating our home of Seattle, our Guests of Honor, and of course- the ladies that inspire our art every day.
We’re also excited to announce part of the proceeds will benefit UNICEF,an international organization that works to keep kids safe, healthy, and thriving. They have a 3/4 star rating on Charity Navigator and almost $0.90 of every dollar donated goes to helping the children. UNICEF has done fantastic work in Mexico during these recent natural disasters and Lady Love has chosen them as her charity of choice.
These posters will measure 16×12 and will be ready to frame as soon as you’re ready. We’re only printing a limited number and they will sell out- so order yours today!
Want to know more about Lady Love? Check out her website and all the other awesome things she’s created.
What’s UNICEF all about? Glad you asked! It’s always good to research where your money is going and you can learn more about them(and how they operate) at their Charity Navigator page.
Whether this is your first BurlyCon or you need a refresher from last year we are pleased to bring you our New to BurlyCon blog series where we give advice to help our first time attendees have a great experience! Our first blog focused on how to dive into the class schedule as well as some tips for preparing for a weekend of burlesque classes. In this blog we’ll go over a few important spaces at the convention designed to help our attendees relax or rejuvenate.
Your plane has landed, you’ve collected your luggage and have successfully checked- in at the hotel(which is just across the street from the airport, so convenient!). Now what? Registration for the convention opens on Thursday from 10:30a.m. – 7:00p.m. If you don’t arrive on Thursday don’t worry. The registration desk with be in the same place all weekend. Check the schedule to see what hours the registration desk is open for the day you arrive. The information is located in the BurlyCon class schedule.
You’ll need to pick up your badge in order to access the convention. The registration desk is located just across from the elevators on the top floor of the convention center. A not so well kept secret about registration: Did you know that on the last day of BurlyCon, Sunday, November 12th from noon-1:00p.m. you can buy your ticket to BurlyCon 2018? That’s right, the cheapest ticket available for BurlyCon 2018 is sold on the last day of the convention and will be $125 cash or credit. After 1:00p.m. the ticket jumps to $175 so don’t miss your opportunity to grab your BurlyCon 2018 tickets for $125.
Need a snack in between classes? BurlyCon X has a Hospitality Room where you will find snacks and drinks to help you get through the weekend. This year Hospitality will be offering the usual array of snacks for all kinds of diets as well as PB&J Bar (including gluten free bread and nut free options). Coffee and Tea will be available all day to keep you recharged.
In addition to the free snacks offered at Hospitality you will also find The Honor Bar: which has heartier snacks for you to refuel if you missed lunch. You’ll find a place to donate money to help offset the cost of these items. We will also offer The Share Table: Did you bring something fun from your hometown and want to share it? Pack a few too many bags of pretzels? Bring them in and share with your fellow burlesquers!* *Please note we can only accept shelf-stable snacks!
In the evenings the Hospitality Room transforms into BurlyBar! If you’re looking for a cheap drink or a place to socialize before the events look no further than the BurlyBar. The BurlyBar bartenders will be serving up specialty cocktails as well as wine, beer, and mixed drinks, so bring your cash and credit and stop on by!
Be sure to check your schedule for the open hours of both Hospitality and the Burly Bar. And be aware that Hospitality will be closed on Friday from 11:45 am–1:15 pm for the Opening Ceremonies and briefly for the Group Photo on Friday evening. If you have questions there is always a volunteer in the Hospitality room to help answer any questions. How to get to the Hospitality Room: The Hospitality Room is located in the St. Helen’s Suite which is found on the 3rd floor of the main hotel building(sitting over the Elliot rooms on the 1st floor).
If you’re looking for a place to find a little peace and quiet look no further than the Library. The library offers a large assortment of burlesque books, papers, and poster presentations. This year you will be able to learn more about the Pastie Project at their book signing event as well as view curated artworks and discussion pieces on Performers of Color.
On the other end of the spectrum is our much more lively Vendor Fair! Home to well over 20 vendors this is the place to be if you need a new sparkly anything! Rhinestoned bras, pasties for days, and enough glitter to be seen from the moon. The Vendor Fair is located in the main convention area and will be open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday but not open on Sunday. And while you’re getting a snack at Hospitality in the main hotel side check out Melissa Flynn’s Sweet Shoppe, located right next door! She’s got you covered for the finest vintage threads. Make sure to check out your program for all the details on times and more.
That is a wrap for this week’s New to BurlyCon blog focusing on hospitality at the convention. Keep checking back for more blogs to learn the ropes of BurlyCon and we’ll see you soon in November!
Thanks to Vixen Valentine and the Media Team for this blog series!
First Time at BurlyCon?
So this is your first time at BurlyCon? Welcome! This is quite an exciting first BurlyCon to attend as we are celebrating our big X. Yup, ten years of burlesque education shenanigans and we are pulling out all the stops in order to make this an extra special event. To help prepare our newcomers for their first convention we’ll be writing a series of tips to help you have a great experience at BurlyCon.
Classes. This is why we’re all here right? BurlyCon is the only convention dedicated to the education of burlesque and there are 4 days jammed pack with classes from a wide range of burlesque educators!
Plan your schedule! Look over the class list and think about what classes you want to take. To help you stay organized BurlyCon is using the Events XD app so you can download and personalize your own BurlyCon class schedule! For more information regarding the classes go here: http://burlycon.org/classes/
Helpful tips: Look at the classes that you want to take and think about what you will need to be prepared for each class. Are you going to a lecture? Grab your pen and paper or note taking tool. Are you taking a movement class? Be sure not to forget your movement clothing so that you can really get into the swing of things. Presenters will list recommendations for their class and I suggest going over that list to make sure that you don’t forget something.
My personal do not forget list includes: practice high heels, knee pads, a few pairs of movement clothing, water bottle, pen/paper. If you’re a veteran of BurlyCon you probably have your favorites. When you’re new it can seem overwhelming but don’t panic! Remember the basics- water bottle, clothes to move in, practice heels, and a way to take notes. This should get you through most classes.
Preparing for the class. When I see a class that I’m really excited about I try to write down 1 thing that I would like to take away from the class. From a burlesque educator standpoint I like to know what about my class has inspired someone to take it. In this way I can structure the class to hit the topics that are important to the students. As a student I’ve found that for me this helps to ground me in the work and mentally prepare me for each class because I walk into each class with a different goal. As the classes are 1 or 1.5 hours (unless you’ve signed up for an intensive class but we’ll get to that in a moment) it can all start to become a blur by the end of the weekend so this little bit of prep helps me remember each class.
After the class be sure to take a moment and write down the technique or answer for the 1 thing that you wanted to take away and keep it in a secured notebook. Pro-tip: Loose paper is just that: loose. A bound notebook will help keep your notes together.
Evaluation forms are also provided at each class or you can ask for one in the Ops Room. These forms let BurlyCon know what you liked, disliked, and any suggestions you would have for the instructor. They’re able to get feedback on what students loved as well as areas they could improve. These are immensely helpful to both the teach and BurlyCon. Remember to fill these out after each class, otherwise BurlyCon doesn’t know what you’d like to see next year, and we want to provide programming that you love!
Intensive Class Program: This year BurlyCon has introduced the Intensives Program. These workshops are multi-hour, in-depth explorations of various topics with the expert instructors you love. Each intensive will only cost $15 and this fee is non-refundable. These classes will be limited in size allowing every student time with the instructor and the ability to really dig into the topic at hand. We suggest only taking two classes at most- these are long workshops and you don’t want to miss out on all the other exciting events at BurlyCon!
The workshops offered are:
Ultimate Self Confidence! Total Tool Kit Intensive with World Famous *BOB*
Flexibility Fitness Intensive (Intermediate Level) with Kristina Nekyia
The Elements: Act Development Intensive with Ray Gunn
Production Management Intensive with Baby Doe
To sign-up or for more information you can go here: http://burlycon.org/connect/
Our Living Legend Guests of Honor are also teaching at BurlyCon. This is a great way to interact and learn from those that helped pave the way for our great art form. Dee Milo will be teaching The Allure of Panel Skirts on Saturday. This class will be a combination of discussion and practice surrounding the classic garment, including Dee showing off some of her own costumes. On Sunday morning you can get even more in depth with the panel skirt by taking Toni Elling’s hit class Parade, Pose, and Peel. Be ready to shimmy and shake as this class is all movement while you learn from the Legend herself.
Of course these are just a few tips to help you prepare for BurlyCon X. If you have a specific question go to the BurlyCon Facebook page and ask your question. It will be a great way to connect with attendees. If you’re a veteran of BurlyCon post your suggestions and let others know what works for you! We can’t wait to see you in Seattle and hope this has helped you prepare.
(Thank you to our Blog Contribute Vixen Valentine!)
BurlyCon is proud to announce Dee Milo as our second Guest of Honor and Living Legend for BurlyCon X.
Dee Milo, “The Venus of Dance”, got her start in burlesque in 1949 in New Orleans and became a headliner performing nationally and internationally. She is known for her signature act “Sentimental Journey” where she undresses and then redresses in the routine. During her career Dee Milo toured with the USO; performed in Japan and Mexico; and appeared at the top theaters in Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver.
In 1964 Dee Milo moved to Salt Lake City and at the urging of her family quite burlesque and burned her burlesque memorabilia. However, years later a box was found in the attic that had Dee Milo’s red sequin mermaid gown. This same dress would later be worn on stage when she came out of retirement in 1995 and performed at Miss Exotic World after speaking with Dixie Evans. Since then Dee Milo has performed at Tease-O-Rama, the Burlesque Hall of Fame’s Titans of Tease, and burlesque festivals & events around the country.
You have three chances to learn from Dee Milo at BurlyCon. On Thursday, November 9 at 1:45-3:15p.m. and on Saturday, November 11 from 10:15-11:45a.m. there is My Life with Dee Milo– where she will talk about her life as a burlesque performer, share some of her fondest memories, and discuss what she’s up to now.
On Saturday, November 11 from 4:30-5:00p.m. the Venus of Dance will be teaching Allure of Vintage Panels and Skirts where she’ll discuss the charms and intricacies of the vintage panel skirt.
We are so excited to bring this unique opportunity to you for our 10th Anniversary BurlyCon Bash! Make sure you’ve registered and booked your hotel room so you don’t miss this amazing woman and burlesque Legend. Then make sure your friends have registered too!
Peer Review Lottery Applications are now live and will be accepted until August 15th. There are 10 spots available at this years Peer Review event, where peer review participants will receive feedback from a panel of experienced performers and other professionals. Want in on the action? Apply HERE!
To help us learn a little more about Peer Reviews, we’ve caught up with Fosse Jack the Peer Review Coordinator to get a little more insider information about the event!
Name: Fosse Jack
Official Job Title: Peer Review Coordinator; Programming Committee
How long have you been the Peer Review Coordinator?
This will be my third year as the Peer Review Coordinator, and fifth working with BurlyCon.
What do you love about being the Peer Review Coordinator?
Having participated in peer reviews in the past, I understand that they can be pretty intimidating. The stakes feel higher when you are performing for peers, than when doing so for strangers. You feel vulnerable, because… well you care what your peers think. Actually asking for their opinions of you work? Well, that is pretty scary. I love that as the Peer Review Coordinator I get to set the stage for people taking artistic risks. I get to bring together the elements that provide a safer place for artists to step out of their comfort zones and be vulnerable. I love that my work can set the tone for a constructive experience. Witnessing the “Ah-ha!” moments of inspiration evoked by a well-articulated critique is the most rewarding aspect of this role.
What makes the Peer Review event special?
As an Education Organization and Event, BurlyCon plays a crucial role in the development of Burlesque as an art form and as a discipline. As a hallmark experience of the BurlyCon Weekend, Peer Reviews set the example for artistic critique all over the greater Burlesque Community. It helps provide the tools that others can use to strengthen, and challenge each other in their artistic endeavors. By participating in Peer Reviews, performers may gain valuable perspective by listening to a wide range of their Peers. This perspective can allow them to see their strengths in a new light, identify those areas in which they can improve, and come away with a more complex understanding of the piece they present.
Every artistic presentation is a risk. Peer Reviews provide an arena in which those risks can be managed, and by doing so the event allows participants the chance to make discoveries, and mistakes. Together these may promote growth and development.
How do you decide on which person you’ll ask to assist with the event as a Moderator or as one of the experienced burlesque professionals?
My goal is to select individuals who will be models of professionalism in critique. Generally I look for individuals who can combine experience and a trained eye, with a teacher’s tone. I try to provide Panelists with as wide a range of styles, and strengths as possible. Varied perspective is important. I do want all of our Moderators and our Panelists to really WANT our participants to succeed. Encouraging success may come in the form of “tough love” and I want critiques to be honest, but I also want them to be delivered with respect, and understanding. If I don’t know the potential Panelists, personally, I will seek the advice of others in the community. The BuryCon Committee has individuals from all over the country and world, and the advice of my peers has been invaluable.
What is your favorite memory from a Peer Review event?
I have seen so many amazing moments these past couple of years, but my favorite moments aren’t the ones that happen during the events. My favorite moments are seeing people who have participated, risked, and learned, and in doing so have taken their art to amazing places. This past year at BHoF I got to see Kitty Von Quim bring an act to the stage that I first saw her perform at Peer Reviews. I got to see the confidence she had in her act and know that part of that had come from the risk she had taken at BurlyCon.
How has the Peer Review event changed over the last 10 years?
As BurlyCon has grown, so has the Peer Review format. What began as an intimate gathering of close knit individuals, grew to encompass more presentations, more peers from a wider range of places, bigger spaces, and WAY more feedback. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to help build a fresh structure for an event that had grown a just little unruly. We have up’d our game in regard to production values, and developed a more uniform format for the feedback. Thanks to these participants can both feel confident in presenting on a stage meant for performance, and receive feedback in a structured way. The biggest development that I have noticed over the past few years, however, is in the community. Our community has a developing interest in positive critique, and a growing investment in the art form. We’re raising the stakes, and we’re learning how to both challenge and support one another. It is my hope that BurlyCon’s Peer Reviews have played a part in this ongoing development.
What advice would you give to attendees who are thinking about applying for the Peer Review Lottery?
Peer Reviews are risky. It’s scary to get up on that stage and perform for your peers, but it is even scarier to sit down afterwards and just… listen to what others have to say. Sometimes we get way too much feedback, and we can get overwhelmed. If you want to get the most out of your Peer Review experience, come knowing what you want, and be prepared to hear what you might not know you need. Know that we love, and we want you to succeed!
I’m The English Muffin, and I’m the co-founder of Frostease Burlesque in Anchorage, Alaska. Last year at Burlycon, I presented my “Eat It” act for Peer Review. What was originally concepted as a throwaway act for a seven deadly sins show had grown, in my head, to a signature piece of commentary on diet culture, body shaming versus body positivity, and my own relationships with food and body image. As I reconceived the act in my head, I made a deal with myself – if I got a Peer Review slot, I’d put in the work and try to get it to the place I saw in my imagination. When I opened my acceptance letter, I am pretty sure I whispered “fuck,” quietly to myself and started panicking. I’m here to talk about what happened after I said “fuck,” and why you should definitely submit an act for the tenth anniversary of Burlycon this November.
What is Peer Review?
Peer Review has been touted as one of the most valuable things Burlycon has to offer. You have a chance to bring an act to hundreds of your peers, for thoughtful feedback. You can be a glittery veteran or a fresh-faced new dancer, you can bring an act in the development stages or something to refine for a festival. Peer Review is a fair stage, with equal opportunities.
Slots are awarded on a lottery system. Once you’ve been selected to present, you’re also given a chance to state your preference on which night you’d like to perform. As Burlycon approaches, you’ll be provided with a call time, a tentative lineup, and the names of the volunteers working on the night you present.
Peer Review Audience Attendees are given index cards to record their feedback. No anonymous feedback is accepted. Cards are collected twice, halfway through the presentations and again at the end, for distribution to the presenters at the end of the convention. Feedback is filtered before it reaches the performer. Only feedback that is constructive in nature is allowed. For example, you’ll never receive a card that says “You suck at twirling.” You might, however, receive one that says “Your shimmy twirl is not successful, try a different method to get them spinning.”
But that sounds terrifying!
Yes, it is, but let’s talk about the ways you can prepare.
Rehearse, because it will make you a better performer.
The point of Peer Review is to workshop fine details on an act that’s mostly complete, rather than to crowdsource a concept from its infancy. Put in the work ahead of time and you’ll have more detailed, helpful feedback at the end of your presentation.
The process of preparing act for my peers put a level of urgency on the creative process. I held myself to a higher standard, knowing I would be performing for others in the industry. Halfway through the process, I realized that every single act I create from here on out has to be held to that standard. Every audience deserves my very best.. I work harder on my acts now, conceptualize them earlier and take more time to bring my concept to life
Research, because it will prepare you, mentally.
Peer review is conducted Thursday and Saturday. As a performer, you can request a certain night to perform. I weighed the options pretty heavily but settled on Saturday. I considered what time I arrived in Seattle, would I have jet lag? Did I want a few days to settle in or did I just want to get it over with as soon as possible? Weigh all your options but if you just can’t choose, it’s ok, Fosse Jack will find the best place for you. For me, the choice of panelist played a huge part.
My panelists were Coco Lectric, Tigger!, and Jacqueline Boxx. I’d met Jacqueline before, and fallen in love with her performance style at the previous year’s Peer Review and I had taken classes from Coco at Burlycon, but I’d never had any interaction with Tigger! I made sure to attend at least one of his classes before my presentation so I had some familiarity with everyone in the front row.
Burlycon is a very intense experience, and adding the stress of putting together a presentation can be very overwhelming. The day I presented, I allowed myself to skip two class periods in the afternoon. I ate a full dinner and drank lots of water. I took a nap. I didn’t drink caffeine after noon. I didn’t drink any alcohol (until I was done). I spent as much time as I could relaxing and preparing slowly, so I didn’t feel overwrought by the time I had to go to the ballroom.
I did all this self care and research because I carried this level of high anxiety with me. When I sent in my application to present, I immediately started spiraling outward. What if no one likes my act? What if all my feedback is horrible? What if the panelists are mean? What if everything goes wrong and I can never show my face at Burlycon again? Knowing myself and caring for myself by doing research beforehand and taking care of my mental and physical health gave me the ability to cope with the process, this is especially poignant if you are a performer with anxiety. I don’t really remember too many details about my actual time on stage. I remember smiling a lot, and I remember thinking that there was SO much food to keep track of in my costume, but I also remember having SO MUCH fun. All the previous stress and anxiety melted away when I heard the first laughter from the audience.
Reach out, because it will help you form connections.
After my name was drawn to present, I reached out to several performers I knew who had done Peer Review in the past. I asked them for advice, about the experience, and what to expect. Knowing some of these things in advance was extremely helpful to me, as it made the whole thing less shadowy and unknown.
You want to stack that audience with people who will cheer for you. I made sure to tell everyone I knew that I was presenting an act at Saturday’s Peer Review. Tell everyone you can that you’re doing a peer review and ask them to come. Not only will you have people in your corner, it will help your other presenters by giving more opportunities for thoughtful feedback. Producers will have a chance to see what you can do, and decide they love you for it. There is always a possibility that someone will scribble “contact me please” on your feedback and you’ll book a trip across the country to perform for a brand new city.
You’ll form a bond with your fellow presenters because you’re all terrified for the same reason. It’s something so unique that you won’t even feel it with other people who have done Peer Review on other nights, or in other years. It’s a very intimate.
Reflect on your feedback, it will help you know yourself.
You’ll receive a lot of feedback which is great but also scary. Read the feedback in a way that makes sense to you. Iva Handfull told me that she had her feedback read aloud to her, and only the cards that had something for her to work on. By skipping the strictly positive ones, she could focus on the feedback that would help her polish the act. Jacqueline Boxx reminded me that the feedback was all helpful, even if when I disagreed with what it said. I waited until I was home, in pajamas and on my couch with a glass of wine to read my feedback, and it was awesome. Everyone was kind in their critique, many good points were raised and I immediately incorporated them into the act as you can see it today. Other points were dismissed because they don’t suit my vision.
Feedback will give you obvious answers, over half of my feedback cards had the exact same advice on it – meaning it was pretty clear what audiences wanted to see more of. In the original “Eat It,” I enter the stage wearing the oldest, saddest fleece bathrobe I have in my possession. For Burlycon, I upgraded that to a satin robe trimmed in boa feathers, to add a little glamor to the act. I received consistent feedback that a rattier robe would have been more impactful and signaled a larger transformation from the starting character attitude to how she ends. Do the act that you want to do, not the act that you think the audience at Burlycon is expecting or wanting to see, your instincts are almost always right and you should trust them. Feedback will also tell you what your strengths are, and what part of your body is the absolute cutest (it’s my ass, btw).
You’ll feel good that you did it.
The act of putting yourself up on the Peer Review stage is a statement that you’re here to be taken seriously as a performer. It shifts your focus from whatever stage you call home and forces you to see yourself on a much bigger scale. It’s not easy to bare your soul as well as your ass in front of people you look up to, but when you do it and you hear them cheering for you, you’ll never look at yourself the same way. I feel more confident in my abilities and I feel very strongly when I say it was the best thing I could have done for myself at Burlycon last year.
So submit an act for Peer Review. It’ll be fun. And I’ll be there to tell you your ass is cute.