INTERVIEW: Leicester burlesque dancer Eliza Delite
My weekends start on a Thursday evening, when I start getting ready for my shows. I set my hair the old-fashioned way, so I put my rollers in. I’ll do some light pampering, make sure my skin is clear and I’m happy with my appearance. I make sure all my costumes are ready and can fit into the enormous suitcase that comes with me everywhere I go.
I won the “best female” title at the World Burlesque Games in London last May and since then I’ve had a lot more bookings and been going all over the country. I was working two day jobs but have managed to cut that down to just one now.
Most Fridays and Saturdays you’ll find me on a train somewhere on my way to a show. Burlesque is earning me a living now.
Recently, I got to go to Milan. A burlesque agency in Italy, Voodoo Deluxe, one of the biggest European agencies, flew me out and put me in a hotel. It did feel a little bit like getting the star treatment, which was really cool. At the same time, though, that comes with it the responsibility everything is absolutely perfect.
I think that’s generally how it’s been for me, since winning the games – I feel like I’ve got to keep myself on top form. So, I’ve taken up ballet again and I’m going to swing dance classes more often than I did before. And I’m making sure my costumes are as high-quality as I can make them.
When you’re flying, you have to be even more prepared. One thing you really have to be careful with – and I think this is something all burlesque performers notice – is your luggage allowance. There’s not much room for your day-to-day clothes when you have a suitcase full of costumes and make-up.
Sometimes, I’ll have shows just one night of the weekend, but sometimes it’ll be Friday and Saturday. Sunday is pretty much the only day I get to do nothing, unless I’ve got a long way to travel.
I love it, though, I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t, because it is tiring. I just love being on stage.
I’ve been doing burlesque since 2008, but for the first couple of years I was juggling it with a degree. Now I do it as much as I can and it’s been really full-on in the past few months.
It can be difficult, with the shows being at weekends. My partner lectures in Liverpool during the week. When he gets back for the weekend, I’m leaving to go to shows. But we both really enjoy what we do and it’s not been harmful at all.
I get the occasional weekend off and I do relish that these days. It’s nice to have a day off, although, to be honest, I find it really hard to switch off, so if I’m not performing I’ll often be working on my costumes or a new routine.
Eliza Delite organises ElectroTease every two months at The Basement in Leicester. The next one is April 5.