Corsets and Cabaret

Corsets and Cabaret

Deriving from the Italian word ‘burlesco’, meaning a joke or mockery the word Burlesque has been used since the 17th century, in the 19th century the word was used to describe comedy theatre. All female casts, often dressed as men, in tights, performed caricature, parody and extravaganza.

Burlesque was popular in the United States from the 1860s to the 1940s in a variety show format, often in cabarets and clubs, as well as theatres. In the early 1900s American Burlesque arrived in France. French cabarets created reviews and presented them creating the birth of famous, spectacular venues like the Les Folies Bergeres.

During this time, on the other side of the Atlantic, Burlesque events were increasing and icons were born; Josephine Baker and Anna Held are among the most famous. At this time jazz music was everywhere and numerous bands played in clubs, accompanying the dancers across the United States.

As the Second World War began and these shows began to diminish until the 1950s when pin-up girls then became fashionable. With the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll the pin-up girls became forever linked with burlesque.

In the 70’s and 80’s, Burlesque had nearly disappeared. But since the 1990s there has been a resurgence of interest of this style of entertainment.

For more information please email museums@northampton.gov.uk

 

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