Burlesque – Audience Etiquette

burlesque audience etiquette.jpg

When I started this blog, I never expected that one of its most popular categories would be performance reviews. However, since I am a regular guest at burlesque shows in Warsaw and often outside of it too, I’d like to share with you some tips on audience behaviour during a burlesque performance.

1. If you like it, let them know.
Someone’s taking off a part of their clothing? You want someone to take off a part of their clothing? You see something you like? Cheer, applaud. There is nothing more disheartening than performing in front of an audience made of stone. Stamp, yell, clap, whistle! I guarantee you that performers like it! The energy from the audience gives them the energy to perform, and they, by performing in front of you, give you that energy back. There is no good show without this exchange! So don’t be shy to openly respond to something you like. There’s nothing wrong with – this is the sign of being experienced with this kind of show! Share it with your friends! Invited them to the next show!

2. Don’t be afraid.
Sometimes the performers invite people from the audience to participate in their act. It’s an honour so work with them and trust the person inviting you – you will never be asked to do anything you won’t be able to. Remember that your refusal tests the performer’s creativity and take into account that it may also result in a reaction from them – the performer whacking you with a cloth or splashing you with the vodka shot you didn’t want to drink 😉

3. Get into the style.
I fervently believe that a Special Occasion requires a Special Outfit. I know that not all of you agree, nevertheless I will try to convince you to put a little bit of an effort into preparing for an outing.
So you’re going to a burlesque show? Wouldn’t it be a nice break from everyday clothes, to dress more elegantly? Burlesque fans (myself included) often dress up for these shows in clothes they love but can’t wear on a daily basis. Most of the shows do not have a strict dress code but I guarantee that seeing people dressed fancily will only turn up the atmosphere of a hot performance. So please – ladies, dust off your corsets, stockings and fascinators. Gentlemen, wear nice shoes and a jacket (I dare not dream of a bow tie). Cocktail style is your friend!

4. Souvenirs from the show.
In most cases there is an element of striptease in burlesque. Performers often shed pieces of their clothing by throwing it into the audience. This doesn’t mean these are gifts – if someone (usually a stage kitten, the person who is in charge of collecting costumes and preparing the stage for acts) asks you to return the gloves or stockings that you caught, give them back. Costumes are expensive. Buying or making a new one for each show is expensive and unprofitable. But, for instance, if a performer’s boa loses a feather, you are welcome to keep it as a souvenir 🙂

5. Photographs.
If it’s not clearly stated (it might be!), most performance artists have nothing against taking pictures from the show. The bon ton is to take pictures without the flash so as to not blind the performers in a critical moment (they’d certainly want to avoid that).

6. What not to do?
Regardless of the amount of alcohol consumes, shouting stuff like “Show your tits” is absolutely out of place. Actually, this kind of shouting is always out of place. The same applies to criticizing the show loudly and attempting to grab any part of the performer’s body – unless they clearly give consent. Basically, a controlled consumption is recommended so that you don’t think you are more interesting than what’s happening on stage 😉
And beyond that? Don’t sit in the last row. The first has a much better view. Turn off the sound on your phone, too. You’ll be too busy to pick it up anyway.


Many thanks to Betty Q for helping me write this post!

Title graphic uses the “Red Stage Curtain” image by Sethoscope, released under BY-NC-SA license.