A night filled with intrigue, music and striptease awaited 100-some attendees of the first annual Vintage Valentines.
Those who attended were treated to a meal, copious amounts of good liquor and the playful, sensual and fearless burlesque performers that make up the Foxxie Follies.
All proceeds of the night will be going to the Women’s Contact Society, who supports and empowers women to change their lives in the Williams Lake area.
The event’s organizer and the originator Kristen Foote, of Kristen Foote Makeup and Hair, said the dinner, show and dance had gone amazing. Vintage Valentines sold out, in fact, by Jan. 10, just shy of a full month before the actual performance which was no surprise to Foote.
“Everyone keeps asking me if I am going to do it next year so I’d say that is a very positive response,” Foote remarked.
Before the actual event, Foote said they’d raised close to about $8,000 from ticket sales and donations and were hopeful that, once tallied, the total amount would be close to $12,000 to donate directly to the Women’s Contact Society. As of the publication of this article, the exact amount raised has yet to be disclosed.
“Burlesque is very empowering for women, it’s also quite comedic, the shows are very entertaining and body positive. Even tonight we had a boylesque performer and I was like ‘how’s Williams Lake going to handle this?’ and let me tell you it was amazing. They loved it, they were laughing so hard the response was just so positive it made me happy,” Foote shared enthusiastically. “I have no complaints.”
When asked if she would indeed be putting this event on again next year, Foote said “absolutely” as she did not do all this work organizing it for nothing.
As for other events of a similar nature, she has lots of ideas but will be keeping them under wraps for now.
Foote wanted to thank everyone who attended and helped sponsor the event, including RBC and the Williams Lake Log Haulers Association.
For Sasparilla Foxx, the troupe leader of the Foxxie Follies, the event was a huge success.
Foxx is a lifelong performer and professional dancer, who trained at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and stumbled into the burlesque scene she now loves by accident eight years ago.
A Quesnel native, Foxx worked as a professional ballerina for a year before leaving that life due to refusing to lose more weight for a company named Balletmet in Columbus, Ohio. The weight she was at already was borderline uncomfortable and to go further would have crossed that line. Besides, as she observed, she likes beer and chocolate a little too much for that to happen.
After spending some time at sea dancing on a cruise ship and being a starving artist in Vancouver, Foxx returned to Quesnel to work at a dance studio. Bored she, much like Foote, decided to throw a party with dance and music. As she was organizing the event and setting up a routine with some other dancers she unintentionally began incorporating burlesque elements into her choreography.
“It was a very slow burn cabaret-feel and I was like ‘what if we were wearing gloves and we took them off?’ at the first rehearsal. Then at the second, I was like ‘what if we just dropped our skirts and it was legs for days?’ and before I knew it without really knowing anything about burlesque I was choreographing a mini striptease routine,” Foxx cheerfully explained. “Then I found out (burlesque) was actually a whole world and I started to do my research and I said ‘Holy Moly this is fabulous! Let’s do this!’ The show was a hit and the rest is history.”
Burlesque, Foxx explained, is not always the more vintage variety she and her fellow dancers, Annita B. Naughty, Brandy Wine, Huddley Stungwell and Pearl Martini brought to the stage. It can be poetry, performance arts, singing and a whole range of other sub-genres. Despite being a traditional burlesque show, Foxx said some nerdlesque and neolesque were slipped into the performance and warmly received by the crowd.
“We’re taking off our clothes, we’re strippers, so there’s that, it’s definitely not ballroom dancing, though ballroom can be burlesque if you’re taking off your clothes,” Foxx laughed. “See, that’s the beautiful thing about burlesque, it’s that anything goes and that’s what I find so entertaining about the art form. When you come to a Foxxie Follies show you never know what you’re going to get.”
Overall she found the response from Williams Lake to burlesque to be incredibly positive and considers the show a very successful experiment. Looking to the future, Foxx is open to returning to do more shows in the future.
As far as Vintage Valentines goes, she commended her friend Foote for all the hard work she put into organizing the show and raising so much money for a good cause. While she expected a quiet audience she was in awe of how raucous and loud the lakecity locals were as they got into the night, something as a performer she and the others loved to see.
Foxx’s own Itty Bitty Burlesque Festival is coming up in Quesnel from April 25 to the 27 and will feature over 60 burlesque performers from across the country and beyond. Tickets go on sale March 1.