CHICAGO (CBS) — You could find it in cabarets and clubs in the late 1800’s until the 1950’s, part comedy, part performance art, part striptease.
“Burlesque is an incredibly broad genre,” said Lindsey Marks, Burlesque dancer “Unbridled at Untitled.”
In the last few years, Burlesque has made a comeback.
“Movies like the ‘Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge’ really pushed that interest and that style of entertainment. Its since become more mainstream,” Marks said.
Lindsey Marks, also known as “Lady Jack”, has been dancing burlesque for five years.
“The first acts I created were very narrative, which I still do, the more performance art burlesque style,” said Marks.
Nicolle Wood is Entertainment Director for one of Chicago’s newest clubs Untitled in the city’s River North neighborhood. She says the key to it’s resurgence: women are the target audience nowadays.
“It’s all about energizing the guests, energizing the crowd. There are women up there with curves, there are women up there who know how to move, there are women up there that could, in my mind, could be me. That is something that really appeals to the women who join us and to the men as well,” Wood said.
Marks says it’s more about delivering a message and telling a story than about revealing a perfect body.
“Burlesque very much pushes the concept of body positive image,” she said.
Burlesque dancers set themselves apart — with elaborate costumes, vaudevillian humor and creative original numbers. The format mirrors a variety show with an emcee introducing short vignettes. From pole dancers, to fire eaters, the show mixes circus and so called Neo-Burlesque.
“Its quite a production, we have lights, sound, 20 performers, both men and women,” said Wood.
Marks says there’s about 150 burlesque performers in Chicago and it’s a community that’s only growing.
“I really think the industry is right on the cusp of blowing up,” she said.
And the word is out, Burlesque is finding it’s place in Chicago’s cultural landscape.
“I have a whole lot of folks approach me and say I want to be part of this,” said Wood.
“Unbridled at Untitled” is every Thursday night at 10 p.m. The Windy City Burlesque festival has been held for the past three years in the spring and summer.