Vancouver Burlesque, an Elegant History


Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 — 10:26pm PST
Comments 7

Our city has had a legendary history in the world of burlesque, leading up to the present-day Vancouver Burlesque Festival and this weekend’s Chick a Boom Room event featuring the Burlesque Beauties.


Photo credit: Danse Collection Dance

At the turn of the 20th century Vancouver was just starting to boom. Building on up the backs of the industry workers, loggers, and Klondike gold rushers there needed to be some form of entertainment and Mr. Pantages was just the man to provide it. The original Pantages Theatre opened in 1908 and went through many iterations, which once involved being called The State in 1919 featuring burlesque acts. Through all of its phases The Pantages was indeed Vancouver’s vaudeville beacon and another of the same name was opened down the street (on Hastings) in 1917 [DCD]

In 1927 The Orpheum opened up and for 25 cents you could enjoy a vaudeville show featuring the likes of Marie White and the Blue Slickers, Pat Henning and Co., a family act, in Versatility; the “Beloved Clown Toto”; dancers Chaney & Fox; Ethel Davis “in Refreshing Song Chatter” and Bee Hee & Rubyette and a movie, The Wise Wife. [VancouverHistory]

Joe Philliponi opened the doors to The Penthouse on Seymour Street in 1945 [VancouverHistory] and it’s still alive and kicking today, even recently featuring a Heritage Vancouver night of burlesque.

The burlesque scene in Vancouver is yet again taking off amidst these overgrown roots and you can catch the latest revival this Friday and Saturday night at the Stadium Club at the Edgewater Casino.

Starring the Burlesque Beauties, “The Vancouver group, clad in luscious lingerie, love getting a rise out of their audiences, but they also take their craft extremely serious and enjoy their work. And real work it is. All are thoroughly trained professional dancers who never stop training on the strict choreography and timing which burlesque demands.” [ClubZone]

It’s also important to note that burlesque does not necessarily mean striptease but a theatrical and comical form of entertainment involving womanly wit and sass.

This weekend’s showcase (Friday and Saturday at 8:30pm) is also a reality show of sorts, where you will see three different girls playing the part of “Miss Baby Doll”. Audience members are then encouraged to visit the Burlesque Beauties website and vote for their favourite woman who represented the role so that she can fill the last spot in the group.

My husband and I will be checking out the show on Friday night, not only will it be my first trip to the downtown casino it will also be the first time I’ve witnessed a burlesque show. From the images I’ve seen, I’m actually really looking forward to it.

As a side note, the Pantages Theatre is being refurbished and renovated in time for the Pauline Johnson Opera in 2010

Current contests on Miss604.com

7 comments

  1. Keira-Anne says:

    I would like to go to a burlesque show with you sometime, k? Let us plan on it.

  2. Tim says:

    Also of note, the Pantages is undergoing restoration and will soon once again become a much needed (and beautiful) live performing arts venue downtown…
    http://www.vancouverartsandculturesforum.com/home/pantages-theatre-story

  3. […] “At the turn of the 20th century Vancouver was just starting to boom. Building on up the backs of the industry workers, loggers, and Klondike gold rushers there needed to be some form of entertainment and Mr. Pantages was just the man to provide it. The original Pantages Theatre opened in 1908 and went through many iterations, which once involved being called The State in 1919 featuring burlesque acts. Through all of its phases The Pantages was indeed Vancouver’s vaudeville beacon and another of the same name was opened down the street (on Hastings) in 1917. [Miss604]” […]

  4. […] Vancouver Burlesque, an Elegant History […]

  5. […] once wrote a brief history of burlesque in Vancouver even though the form is still alive and kicking in this town. Such is evident in the opening of […]

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