A lakecity local in support of the Women’s Contact Society is bringing a taste of burlesque to Williams Lake this Valentine season with the First Annual Vintage Valentine’s.
Burlesque is a form of dance and entertainment centred on the concept of the striptease. Unlike contemporary strippers, however, the performers do not remove clothes for money and instead, the movement is centred on women empowerment. As such women of all ages and body types participate and the theme of their stripteases can be focused around reading poetry, comedy or even political commentary.
The organizer of the event is makeup artist Kristen Foote, who grew up in Williams Lake before moving away to pursue her education and career in major cities like Vancouver and Toronto where she studied makeup for film, stage and TV. Upon returning to Vancouver recently she met her boyfriend and the two settled back in her hometown.
“Now I’ve created a little business for myself using all of my favourite things: skincare, hair and makeup,” Foote said, now operating Kristen Foote Make-up & Hair in town.
While in Toronto and Vancouver Foote became very involved with the burlesque community and when she returned to Williams Lake, she felt the town was missing out on this cultural event. So, initially as much for her own enjoyment as anything, Foote reached out to her friends in the burlesque community and local businesses to organize an event.
“I wanted to bring a different event to Williams Lake that’s a little bit more fun, a little less formal and just a simply different form of entertainment,” Foote said.
What began as a simple dance night quickly evolved into a full-blown charity fundraiser for the Women’s Contact Society hosted at the Ramada Convention Centre. Featuring Quesnel-based burlesque troupe The Foxxie Follies as the main attraction the night will include a buffet style dinner, a bar, the burlesque show followed by an old-time themed open dance floor.
Throughout the night Foote said there would also be a selection of local vendors, raffles and a 50/50, all-themed after Valentine’s Day. These include South Broadway Liquor Store, Charms Novelty Shop and The Purple Pansy Florist.
“You can buy some thing for your sweetie before Valentine’s Day and then our raffle bags are going to be really fantastic. I’ve already got some great donations for that,” Foote said.
The event is limited, currently, to 120 tickets total with both single seats and full tables available for purchase, with eight seats to a table. Foote said that tables go for $600 a piece, with three VIP tables close to the stage going for $700 each. An individual ticket costs $75 and is available for purchase through Charm’s Adult Novelty Shop or The Women’s COntact Society. Those looking to buy a table can contact Foote directly at 778-961-0392 or email@example.com.
To Foote burlesque is all about the story that’s told on stage by the performers. Whether it’s comedic, political or romantic, the story is king. It’s something she says she’s always been drawn to for its beauty, empowering nature and its welcoming inclusive community.
“They choreograph the number themselves and it’s more about the story of their performance and how they take their clothes off versus the fact they are taking their clothes off,” Foote said. “It’s very female-oriented, it’s all based on what the women in the show want to do. It’s their number and their artistic expression versus, you know, just stripping for money.”
Currently, Foote said she is still looking for local burlesque talent to volunteer for the event. While she doesn’t need performers she does need people to run the raffles and 50/50s, as well as other behind the scenes events and said that a local versed in the mood and atmosphere of burlesque would be ideal.
She already has a Stage Kitten, the woman who picks up the dancers’ clothes after their performance, in the form of lakecity local Ryley Smith. This is a very important role as Foote said performers never pick up their own clothes, marking a clear distinction between stripping.
In addition to local talent to volunteer, Foote said she is also looking for more local sponsors for the event, though she’s happy to already have the Williams Lake Veterinary Hospital, United Floors, Raymond James, RBC and Joe Augustine all on board, as of the publication of this article.
“It’s a new event and a lot of people don’t know how successful it’s going to be, so I guess some people are hesitant to donate to it,” Foote observed. “Essentially all the money goes to the Women’s Contact Society so that’s a great reason to donate.”
Foote decided to partner with them because their values match many of both her own and the burlesque community, namely empowering and supporting women.
In addition, the society’s locally-based nature will ensure all the money raised at the event will stay local, according to Foote.
Those interested in attending need only be above the age of 19, according to Foote, with photo ID. While she thinks it’d be a great night for couples, she says that everyone she’s talked to so far has been interested in attending, regardless of relationship status.
“A lot of people have said ‘Oh I’m going with my girlfriends’ or guys have said ‘Oh we’re going to go with the guys’ and I’ve had a lot of couples who have said ‘Oh its going to be a fun couples night.’ I think it’s going to be a really amazing, mixed crowd and I think anyone should feel welcome,” Foote said.