Burlesque won't make you fit but it's a good way to escape your comfort zone, discovers Gill South.
The business journalist in me finds it highly amusing that my burlesque class with Miss La Visa, of misschiefevents.co.nz is being held in the former ASB boardroom at its old HQ in Queen St. The bank is now a McDonalds and we are up on the first floor.
I am dressed in a skirt, slight heels and a short-sleeved top so I can wear my long black gloves (with diamantes, thank you). And the best bit, I wear a wine-coloured feather boa around my neck. Burlesque, I think, is best described as erotic dance.
Miss La Vida, who tells me to call her Vicki, looks the ticket - she's wearing the black slip, the suspenders, her black hair is curled 40s-style, and she has beautiful dark red nails and the matching lipstick. I have a meeting after this with a business contact, so have tempered my outfit, but let's face it, do I own a black slip and suspender belt?
If you are trying to get fit, burlesque is not the way to do it, says the forthright Vicki, who has a great Yorkshire accent. She says she's not fit, and she's just competed at the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Vegas - where she was one of 10 women from around the world chosen for the best début category.
Burlesque should bring out your "inner tiger", says Vicki. It's really good for your self-confidence. The biggest burlesque star today rejoices in the name Dirty Martini. Just call me Grubby Gin.
The reason women (and a few gay men) do burlesque is to put some romance back into their relationships, says Vicki.
Some women might do it for their wedding night and it is a popular choice for hens parties.
Vicki and I work up a routine. Burlesque should involve lots of shaking your wobbly bits, Vicki informs me. So we do a lot of shaking the derriere, chest and legs. The first move I learn is the bump and grind - lots of pelvic exercise there. Apparently Elvis Presley got his trademark hip thrust moves from burlesque dancers.
I am taught to flirt with my feather boa, running my hands up and down it, dropping it down to my hips and swinging them. I'm meant to make "my audience" think that my boa is yummy, Vicki instructs me. We take some steps forward like catwalk models, crossing the legs in front of us, draping the boa over our shoulders seductively, throwing it out in front of us and reeling it back in.
My favourite bit is taking my long gloves off at the end. You can either do it with your teeth, biting and pulling one glove finger at a time, or with your fingers, one by one to loosen the glove, then run your hand down your leg and use your foot to take the glove off completely and fling it in an abandoned way. I could just see myself stepping on my had and yelping rather unseductively. Not very Dita von Teese.
I go on to my meeting and tell my contact where I've come from. He grins broadly to hear of my antics. He's a musician, so not prudish thankfully. Nice ice-breaker though, must try that again.
I am booked in for an Osmosis facial at Lucy and The Powder Room and I'll be having a chat with the man behind the product, Dr Ben Johnson.