Chelsea Chelsea I believe that when your dancing slowly sucking your sleeve that all boys get lonely after you leave…
The Indie rock band The Fratellis have made her into a world-wide icon; an urban myth, even. Yet, she was born and bred in Glasgow where she still works at the Burlesque venue, Club Noir. ‘Chelsea Dagger’ talks about her career and how she first discovered Burlesque dancing, hits back against critics of the art and discusses her life in the aftermath of the song that made her famous.
So, how did you get into burlesque dancing and do you have a background in performing and dancing?
I first started performing at Club Noir six years ago, aged 26, after being introduced to Tina Warren and Ian Single through a friend. I have always loved old Hollywood films with glamorous leading ladies, fabulous costumes & over-the-top musical numbers, so, when Tina and Ian asked if I would be interested in performing at their Burlesque club, I jumped at the chance to be involved. I started dancing from the age of four and began drama classes soon after. Although I was very shy, I loved being on stage and dressing up – we had a ‘dressing-up’ case in our house full of old clothes which I loved!
Would you encourage young girls to think about Burlesque dancing as a future career option and, if so, why?
I’m not sure I would encourage girls to take up Burlesque dancing just for the sake of it. I really love what I do and I think that’s important in any job you do. Also, not everyone is going to like what you’re doing so you have to be prepared to face some criticism.
What do you say to critics that compare Burlesque dancing to the level of sleazy strip clubs? And what would you say is the difference between burlesque dancing and stripping?
I think the main difference between strip clubs and Burlesque clubs is the audience. Generally, strip club audiences are heavily dominated by men, whereas at Burlesque clubs there are more women. With Burlesque, the emphasis is not necessarily on nudity. The costumes and the way in which the acts are executed – the art of the tease – are what’s important. So much time, effort and research go into creating and devising the acts and costumes. For me, personally, burlesque is not just about getting naked (in some acts I don’t even take any clothes off) but it’s about feeling glamourous, feeling empowered and most of all having fun!
I have never once been approached by or received a compliment from a man after a performance, only from women and that means a great deal more to me. We live in a world which is very much obsessed with body image, where women are self-conscious and quick to criticise one another, so I think it’s extremely refreshing to work in an environment where women support and encourage each other. I love the fact that there are women of all shapes and sizes performing in Burlesque clubs – skinny, curvy, young, old – anything goes!
You have become famous in your own right as the inspiration for The Fratelli’s song ‘Chelsea Dagger’ which has been heard throughout the world. How has this changed your life? Have you become a celebrity now? are you still working at the same burlesque club in Glasgow or do you have bigger ambitions for your talent?
I definitely don’t consider myself famous! But I do think I’m extremely lucky to be doing something I love.
Performing at Club Noir has given me some amazing opportunities to work with amazing like-minded artists and I have definitely become a lot more confident in myself and as a performer. I love working at Club Noir because there is so much artistic freedom in creating acts and making costumes so I can really challenge myself. At the moment, I can’t imagine doing anything else! Performing really is my passion whether it’s dancing, acting or burlesque and I hope to continue entertaining audiences for as long as they still enjoy it!
Chelsea Dagger will be performing with Club Noir in Dundee on Saturday 22nd October at Fat Sam’s Live, 9pm-2.30am. Tickets are £15.50 and available from http://www.ticketweb.co.uk, or call 08444 77 2000