Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Helles Belles! Part 1

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter you will have noticed that we plan to head to Helles Belles Burlesque night at The Judge and Jury in Colchester this coming Thursday, so I thought a little pre-post was in order to get you in the mood.  We met with Alex for a cuppa and a chat this week to talk about the show, vintage fashion and coconut shells.

Alex, aka Fanny Darling, is one of Helles Belles Troupe and she is the co-ordinator of Colchester's creative hub 15 Queen Street, a branch of Firstsite.  A lot of Colchester's creative and arts activities have links in some way with 15 Queen Street so it is no surprise then that Helles Belles have their roots there.


How did Helles Belles come about?

Miss Scarlett Lovealott set the troupe up with an open call to Colchesterians to come along to monthly Burlesque nights at 15 Queen Street, and including Miss Scarlett four ladies answered the call.

Helles Belles Burlesque troupe based in Colchester, image courtesy of Stuart Brown.
Left to right: Holly High Heels, Miss Scarlet Lovealott, Fanny Darling and Mademoiselle Emmanuelle

So...what are the backgrounds of the troupe members?

Miss Scarlett set them up, she was previously a Suicide Girl (alternative model) and always been into burlesque.

Emmanuelle has a lot of experience as a dancer but wanted to move into something more artistic, and felt that the burlesque troupe could provide that.

Holly is the most experienced member of the troupe; she has been in several groups before and performed burlesque dancing for sometime.

Fanny Darling, as mentioned, is the co-ordinator at 15 Queen Street and had always been into performance art (in 2009 she took part in the Fourth Plinth project where volunteers stood on the Fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square doing whatever they choose- in her case reading poetry in a Mexican wrestlers mask!)

What wardrobe delights have we to look forward to?

Fanny Darling was particularly thrilled about her new coconut shell bra that turned up from eBay that morning.  Yes ACTUAL coconuts.  So excited was she that she ran through to the office to get it to show me.  And I have to admit they were spectacular... although coconuts aren't as big as you would imagine!!

The whole troupe are fairly crafty (some of them can be found at regular meet up Stitch and Bitch) and most of them have pimped their costumes in some way.  In fact the nipple tassels are all handmade, apparently these are really easy to make- a sparkly banana pair is set to make an appearance during the show.

Amongst other number are a red backless dress, a fox stole, turban, Hawaiian skirt and much more...



Vintage and Burlesque seem to just go together- but are the girls into vintage?

They all love vintage, in differing ways.  Holly Highheels and Mademoiselle Emmanuelle both sell vintage and are regularly on the vintage fair circuit (look out for Jumble Fever in Colchester which Holly is promoting at present).  Scarlett Lovealott loves the rockabilly style, while as Alex is more into 1920s fashion and vintage.  It'll be really interesting to see how their differing interests reflect through in the show, costumes and music.

So what can we expect of the night?  And how vintage will the show be?

In terms of the acts themselves they are starting with a group performance, followed by their individual numbers throughout the night.  Supported by compere Joe Allen to liven the audience up, the night is rounded off with a wind-down performance from the Ohh La La's.

I asked if the audience were expected to dress up in vintage gear (Lesley's Girls can't resist the excuse to glam it up in a bit of vintage glamour).  Apparently they are not enforcing vintage dress but are hoping that the audience will get into the spirit of it, which is great for Simon who was at a bit of a loss as to what to wear.  The music is from a DJ playing sounds from 1920's-1950's.

What about the future of the troupe?

They aim to do bi-monthly burlesque nights, with talks about further shows at the Judge and Jury, the University of Essex and possibly the Twist.

Helles Belles are a very open group who are happy to hear from anyone who wants to get involved, so if you do contact them via their Facebook page here.


Look out for part two after tomorrow night's show.

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