I had the pleasure of spending time with Cha Cha Velour, Vi Vacious and Miss Karla Joy when I was dancing in Las Vegas last weekend. I love to find out more about the local burlesque community whenever I travel, helping me see how I can improve things for my own community or what others can gain from some of our successful actions.
Las Vegas is an adult playground. Tourists can take in the latest hit show on the Strip without having to leave the comfort of their own hotels. Streets are lined with mini-catalogs for barely legal Asians, blondes with big butts, and all manner of prostitution wish books. With no lack of distractions (much like Los Angeles but with more smoking and legal prostitution), I could see how tough it would be to put together a burlesque community here.
Of course, these passionate pioneers are getting it done. Cha Cha's monthly event, Live Burlesque! in Las Vegas, showcases local talent and out-of-town guests, burlesque numbers with variety acts peppered throughout the evening. The friendly audience reminds me of the audiences I see at Monday Night Tease: lots of regulars who seem to know a number of performers because they come to all the shows, people who want to see their first real burlesque show and have been curious about it for a while, and folks who ramble in from the connected front bar to see the cause of all the excitement. Saturday night was standing room only, and backstage was packed with performers. It was an electric evening of entertainment.
Offstage, these ladies also hold classes and offer words of wisdom to new performers to help cultivate their community. They're very passionate about connecting those with a budding interest in burlesque to the history of the art form. They've figured out that it takes investment to get the community they want. I look forward to seeing more rising talent they've influenced the next time I'm in Vegas.