Sass, ass & class with The Cheek Of It! burlesque school

Anyone who has ever known me – or indeed, stood within 20 feet of me in a nightclub – will know that I cannot dance. My inability to co-ordinate any two parts of my body at the same time gives me, in times of unbridled merriment, the appearance of an over-inflated wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man. Even my own dear mother would admit it.

Some people, though, just seem to be born with that natural grace. I’ve tried to cultivate it myself by balancing things on my head and watching YouTube videos entitled ‘How to stand good’, but it just isn’t happening for me. They are the gliders, the ones with phantom stilettos and the invisible string we’re always being told we should imagine attached to our heads to keep us poised and upright. They are the people whose parents sent them to ballet school when they were toddlers. Zoe Charles, dancer, comedienne and founder of The Cheek Of It! burlesque school, is one of these people. To be fair she has a banging figure, which helps, but I have no doubt that she could gain 400 pounds and still bounce light-footedly around the room like an enormous spherical butterfly. Sigh.

I mean, look at her.
I mean, look at her.

Last time I blogged I wrote about an event held by Sarah of the Prosecco Diaries. We went to see a cabaret show at Cafe de Paris, but before that we also had a lesson with Zoe in the art of burlesque.

I’m not going to lie: I was not excited. Dancing of any kind goes against every fibre of my soul, especially – *shudder* – sexy dancing, with jug-jiggling, arse-wiggling and what really just amounts to a more sophisticated kind of slut-drop. But then most of my most seductive bedroom moves involve chicken nuggets, so what do I know?

One of Zoe's past students. On a stage. In a feather dress. THIS COULD BE YOU.
One of Zoe’s past students. On a stage. Wearing feathers. THIS COULD BE YOU. But probably not me. At least not without a LOT of work.

Zoe first gave us a bit of background about burlesque – how it originally simply meant satire and encompassed a wide variety of comic acts before coming to mean what we know it to today – before giving us the basic burlesque moves. At first I felt like a bit of a twat, but then I realised that nobody was looking at me (and even if they were, nobody cared how absurd I looked while mastering the finer points of the bump ‘n grind). Everyone was concentrating on their own bodies, and it was actually all rather fun. I never got the hang of the shoulder shimmy – I just don’t have the tits for it – but I do feel I left with a respectable command of the arse-wiggle. There was no bitchiness or judgement, just a group of ladies all shapes and sizes having a good laugh and getting in some good, wholesome fun.

The Cheek Of It burlesque

Well, wholesome-ish. It happened to be my birthday, so I was presented with a pair of sparkly nipple tassles before I went home.

The lesson we had was a mini-masterclass especially for the event, but The Cheek Of It! runs a shedload of different programmes, whether you’re a flat-footed oaf venturing into burlesque for the first time (me), or a veteran vixen looking to smarten up her shimmy. Zoe is also dead keen on getting her graduates to actually perform on stage, and her eight-week courses finish up with a revue at a real live burlesque club. Terrifying? Abso-fucking-lutely, but if that’s not an incentive to bring your A-game, I don’t know what is.

Ladies all shapes and sizes for their graduation!
Ladies of all shapes graduating from one of Zoe’s eight-week courses

The Cheek Of It! runs a number of different course formats, including day sessions, four-week tasters, drop-ins, master classes and eight-week long courses for beginners and advanced dancers. The ladies in charge are also available for private tuition and hen parties. Full details, dates and prices are available online. The courses run from a number of locations all over London.

I was too busy to take photos, so all pictures used with permission from The Cheek Of It! All photos by Tigz Rice, except the featured image, which was by Sin Bozkurt. 


Author: Emily Gibson

Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.