Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ottawa Burlesque Festival: You have to start somewhere

 I didn't realise that this year was the inaugural Ottawa Burlesque Festival, the first I hope of many.

It was a mass exodus from our house on Dundas/ Parliament in Toronto.
My housemates flew far South to the humid heat of Louisiana for the New Orleans Burlesque Festival while I headed near South to Ottawa in a car of fabulous. Lucky Minx and James and the Giant Pastie taking the wheel, Wrong Note Rusty, Knox Harder and Imogen Quest and I packing the back for a short and merry roadtrip.

Guns, fish and children were the main features of Tinder profiles between TO and Ottawa.
The drive, long in miles passed quickly, assisted by the changing scenery of fall colours and the changing faces on Tinder- at least three of us decided that viewing pictures of gun toting, fish holding dudes would help the hours pass quicker. It did.

We made good time and I was dropped off at a local performer's downtown apartment. Ariel had offered to put me up for a few nights on her couch, I was so grateful as I hadn't really bothered thinking about accommodation until a week prior to the festival as I was only staying for one night.

This is layering up back before I realised how cold Canada gets...
I got to know Ottawa's public transport system this weekend, Ariel provided bus tokens and we traveled to the Gladstone Theatre arriving with a couple of  hours to spare which meant we could take advantage of the theatre's proximity to Little Italy and indulge in calorie rich risotto and gluten free biscotti from Simply Biscotti.

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Simply Biscotti on Preston st
The night was sold but I managed to score a seat in the second row. The stand outs for me were Toronto's own Regina Dentata, Wrong Note Rusty as a laid off office worker using his box of cleaned out paper with grand effect and Ryan Hinds who sang his heart out and made me cheer with his rendition of Bring on the Men, sung without microphone or monitoring.
Statuesque Sydni Devereaux from NYC via Seattle was one of the Festival headliners, appearing on stage in a fully sequined playsuit and bunny ears, a reluctant waitress with satirical intent, she made my night.

Friday night's Dark Side of the Merkin
On Saturday I slept in, awaking around 10am to do some sightseeing with Ariel. We got good coffee from Planet Coffee for a fantastic coffee- note of warning, it's cash only.
I also picked up some postcards for friends and family at the French only bookshop,  Librairie du Soleil, I attempted some sketchy french and was rewarded with rapid fire responses that I couldn't follow at all... So I resorted to my dodgy "Parlez vous anglais, je suis Australien" which didn't get a lot of love.

I miss good cheese...

Fresh produce stalls at Byward

frosted cookies at Aux Delices
We continued on, checking out Ottawa's Byward Market for some sweets and fresh produce and walking up towards Parliament hill past the Rideau canal with it's many locks.

On a bridge overlooking the Rideau Canal

Do the tour!! Big regret that I couldn't.
Ariel was a fantastic tour guide, we walked the scenic route, found chipmunks in a park and saw Ottawa's incredible gothic revival architecture including the main building and the library. You can do tours inside but we didn't have time.

Being a tourist!
We also headed to check out Ragtime vintage in Asheville. It was recommended to me but ended up being a bit of a disappointment with only a small selection of mid century dresses available in smaller sizes. They rent and sell vintage clothing and most of the bigger items were rent only.
It was packed with clothing and perhaps with more time I would have unearthed some treasures.

It's a bear, Eh.
We headed back to Ariel's so I could start getting ready for the show, Opulance and Oddities at the Bronson Centre. We took another bus and then worked our legs by walking up a long hill to the theatre.
The World Famous *Bob* emceed, she spent the evening hanging out mostly at the side of stage, watching the acts and talking to the performers which was a good space to be considering the number of performers who were filling up the backstage area.
The backstage area was tiny, yet we found ways to make it work, even if one of the two toilets was clogged and stopped flushing...

Two showgirls in one skirt, backstage with Sassy Ray
I was performing my peacock act and was surprised to find there was another performer with a similar bouffant blue tulle costume performing shortly before me.
Slightly frustrating as you always want to have a uniquely impressive costume when you perform a classic act, however, Sassy Ray has her own brassy style and we got along fine!

Photo by Viktor S. Divice

Saturday night's line up

on stage selfies with Holly Von Sin
Burlesque is so glamorous.
I was leaving that night after the show, getting a lift home with a TSOB student.
I'd scored the front seat while Rusty and Ryan took the back. It was a long drive back, we left around 1am and got home at 5:30, somehow our driver was able to stay alert... I'm sure it was the lively conversation and addition of stops for Tims coffee and Mcdonalds in Kingston where we disturbed a young couple in the carpark and tried to walk through the drive through.

Maccas weren't so keen on our attempt at walking through... 4am in Kingston
The housemates were still away in New Orleans so our depressed rescue cat, originally called Frisky but anything but, greeted me at the door with the type of fear that you see in the abandoned, yowling for food and oddly for her, joining me in my University style (read bare) room for company.

The look of love.
Keep an eye out, the Festival will be on again September 17-20 2015
Applications opening March 1!

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