The good news is the NWT will have a spring burlesque show even with a pandemic happening. The bad news is you’ll have to vacuum your own glitter afterward.
Like other artists across the territory, Yellowknife’s Parkas and Pasties Burlesque performers have decided to take their act online this spring and host a Cabin Fever Caberet.
Northerners – and former northerners – from across the three territories had until the end of Friday, April 3 to sign up with their song and performance idea. They’ll then have three weeks to prepare and film their own act, which the Cabin Fever Cabaret team will edit together for an online screening on May 1.
“Burlesque is not just about taking off your shirt,” said Oxford C’mon, as she’s known on stage. “It can be, but it can be lots of other things. It can be singing, it can be dancing, it can be comedy, it can be anything you want.
“We want people to come up with their best live, almost vaudevillian-type performance.”
“It’s been a long, cold winter,” said an organizer by the stage name of Lee Van Cleevage. She said performers were getting bored at home and wanted to bring the northern community together by hosting an online burlesque watch party.
Van Cleevage said chat function under the video stream will sub in for the lively, confetti-filled atmosphere at live, in-person shows.
“If you can’t go out for a show in Yellowknife, you can stay in for a show in Yellowknife,” she said.
“We are opening up our Yellowknife talent pool to the world. I have cousins in New Zealand who were excited about tuning in and watching me perform for the first time ever. And I think that’s really cool.”
Oxford C’mon added the idea was partly inspired by Cabin Radio’s own Covid Corner nightly video broadcast.
“What I really like about [Covid Corner] is the sense of community spectacle, that we’re all consuming the same media at the same time, which is a thing we’ve sort-of lost in the last 20 years or so in terms of live broadcast,” she said.
‘We need to support the arts’
For Oxford C’mon, the burlesque show is also about supporting the arts.
“I think we’ve all seen in the last couple of weeks how important the arts are to people,” she said, both as something to consume and something to create.
“I’ve been loving watching all these people who normally never would consider themselves an artist – or would never have the time or the inclination to do some of these things – picking up hobbies, whether it’s embroidery or playing a guitar, or singing or dancing, or whatever it is that they’re taking home now, and really experiencing how important it is to create art, and why we need that.
“And so this is both an exercise in letting us have a venue to create art, if that’s something that you need, and also to consume it. And that’s one thing I’m really hoping we all take away after this is over, how important that is – even when we’re not stuck in our houses, we need to support the arts.”
Ollie Williams contributed reporting.