Is It Okay to Attend an Acquaintance’s Burlesque Show?

I saw Burlesque in theaters and definitely wanted it to be better.

I saw Burlesque in theaters and definitely wanted it to be better.


I have friends from high school, etc. who are now burlesque artists. We only see each occasionally, but I like supporting their careers with likes on Facebook. However, what is the etiquette on seeing their shows? Is it weird to have people you know in real life attend your burlesque?  I don’t know if you two know, but I trust you both to have a thoughtful answer.

Many thanks,
Don’t Want to be Weird

Victoria: Okay, so I don’t think it’s a big deal to go and see the shows.

Jaya: No. The whole point of public performance is, you know, public. But it may be different depending on whether the LW was invited to the show, or just saw it on Facebook.

Victoria: Yeah, that’s true. Being specifically invited is more welcoming. If you just see it, go once and see how the person reacts.

Jaya; Even if it’s one of those mass invites where you send it to all of your Facebook friends

Victoria: Yes, I think that signals that they don’t care who comes and are welcoming everyone.

Jaya: Yeah, and it makes it seem like LW it as least at an acquaintance level with the burlesque folks. I think it’s weirder if you haven’t talked to someone in 10 years and show up like “I saw this on FB”

Victoria: Hahah yeah, unless they are like, omg I just moved to town and I thought it would be great to see you again. Although, I suppose you could ask them to get coffee with you too. I’ve gone to plays and stuff for people I haven’t seen in a thousand years and it can be a nice way to meet up again. Just don’t monopolize their time at the event.

Jaya: Definitely, and I think some standard burlesque etiquette applies here–don’t objectify anyone, don’t make weird comments about their bodies or sex lives, etc.

Victoria: Yeah, and I would give the caveat that it’s going to be a lot weirder for a man you haven’t seen in ages to come to a random burlesque show than a women.

Jaya: Absolutely, if you’re a single man coming to a female FB friend’s burlesque show, consider bringing a woman along. And you know, doing your part to dismantle the patriarchy so women don’t have to be concerned about a single man’s presence in the first place.

One thought on “Is It Okay to Attend an Acquaintance’s Burlesque Show?

  1. Sorry to be blunt, but your reply here is goofy. If the events in question are the invitation-only final “recitals” in burlesque-as-therapy sessions at a Learning Annex, then your advice would be more plausible. However, if they are in any serious sense public performances of burlesque, then it is misguided, presumptuous about the attitudes of the performers, and unreasonable (not to mention discourteous toward single men, among others).

    If an adult wishes to engage in a risque form of performance publicly, that is entirely up to her (him, etc.). More power to her (him, etc.; please read all further pronouns as appropriately qualified). If she chooses to advertise it via social media, again, that is her prerogative. Under those circumstances, any adult member of the public, including (even especially) every person to whom her social media posts are directed, should regard herself or even (gasp!) himself (etc.) as free to purchase a ticket and enjoy the show (to whatever extent that is possible). If (as I’ll agree) there is nothing wrong with an adult woman (or group of women, or couple, or trio of men, or whatever) displaying herself publicly in a slinky or skimpy costume, removing part or all of it while dancing provocatively, shimmying while wearing pasties or tassles or a g-string, flirting with the audience, indulging in horrible puns or double entendres, and so on, or whatever else the performance involves, then presumably there is nothing wrong with another adult attending and watching. If the performer would be ashamed, embarrassed, self-conscious, or otherwise unhappy about any other adult(s) seeing her performance, then it is incumbent upon her to avoid performing where that (those) other people cannot or will not attend.

    To place the onus of discovering or guessing which people the performer would want to stay away on the potential patron is silly. By choosing to perform publicly, the performer has chosen to perform for the members of the public. Acting on any other assumption implies that there is something dubious or at least private about the performance and would be an offensive assumption.

    (Note that if there are particular people that the performer prefers not to have there, she is at liberty to ask them not to attend. In that case, those people would be rude [though within their rights] to attend.)

    The idea that single men should bring a female chaperone to avoid creating an uncomfortable atmosphere is bizarre. Are groups of men OK? Does this apply to gay men? All or only ones who might be mistaken for straights? Must lesbians bring men or are they free of your suspicions? Ought a lesbian couple to bring two men? Shouldn’t married men also bring a female escort to show that they aren’t predators (or whatever having such an escort is supposed to show)?

    Do you really think that the presence of single men or single male acquaintances at a public performance is discourteous to performers? Or that single men choosing to avoid those performances or to bring a woman with them helps to undermine the patriarchy? If the performers wish to avoid scrutiny from the Male Gaze, all men will need to be excluded. But the idea that *public* burlesque performances should be a place free from men or single straight men (or anything alng those lines) is outlandish. Why in the world would anyone assume that the performers in public burlesque shows would want them to be? This may shock some people, but many of the women and others performing may welcome or even prefer the presence of single men, either for the chance to reshape their attitudes about the body and sexuality or in some cases even because (shudder!) they perform partly to attract sexual attention of people including (or even primarily) that of precisely those single men.

    To think that courtesy requires a single man to share (or act based on) the bloggers’ attitudes about single men and to bring a female chaperone would require assuming that the performers also must share the bloggers’ social theories in idiosyncratic detail (for to adapt oneself to the bloggers’ attitudes about single men and burlesque will only be a courtesy to the performers if their attitudes about single men at their performances are the same as the bloggers’). But why should anyone assume that the performers share those attitudes or that they want female chaperones for men (or single straight men or straight male FB friends or whoever the bloggers really mean).

    People who want to perform only in front of others of their own gender (or other subsets of the adult public) ought to perform only in venues or at events where others are excluded; these will be private or semi-private, and any mention of such performances on social media should clearly indicate the restriction.

    If one wishes to exclude people from attending an event or for them to accept conditions in order to attend, surely to do so courteously requires that those holding the event publicize this among potential guests. Surely courtesy does nor permit, let alone require, that the guests be expected to adopt (or at least assume while they plan for that event) a particular negative view of themselves and impose those conditions on themselves.

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