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Monday, March 31, 2008

Burlesque Dancing your way to a new you

Burlesque Class
I walked in to the burlesque class at Swindon's New College expecting nothing more than a few giggles... I sashayed out feeling fantastic.

And I'm pretty sure the other 14 women who took part felt the same.

Burlesque must be one of the most unusual classes you can take at the college - it certainly puts a new twist into "adult education" - and there can't be many instructors with such interesting names as Goodtime Mamma Jojo.

Mamma Jojo, aka Jo King (and that really is her name), was the woman putting us through our paces.

She's been taking her clothes off for a living for 30 years and has no intention of stopping in the near future, although she now tends to concentrate now on teaching and choreography through her London School Of Striptease (

"There's so much pressure on girls nowadays to look a certain way," said Jo, 49, who is a single mum to a three-year-old daughter.

"I want to teach women to make the most of what they've got. Sexiness and confidence are a mindset.

"Every woman deserves to feel fabulous, enticing and seductive, regardless of age, shape or dancing ability.

"I want women - all women - to feel fabulous about themselves.'' So it was off with the inhibitions and on with the feather boas and satin gloves.

We were all ages, shapes and sizes and at first there was a certain amount of self-consciousness about striking a pose and shaking our booties. But by the end of session we were bumping, grinding, wiggling and shimmying with abandon.

Looking along the dance studio mirror, I was struck by how great we all looked - big or small.

Jo had certainly got us in touch with our inner showgirls.

One of the women taking part, Amy Turnbull, 32, from Rodbourne, a compliance officer in loans and mortgage services, said: "It was a brilliant experience. When I was younger I used to have a problem with body image and confidence, so as I've got older I've tried to come out of my shell. I find this kind of thing quite liberating. Jo was excellent at imparting her enthusiasm."

So much so that by the end of the five-hour session, a good percentage of the class were seriously thinking about going along to perform in public at one of Goodtime Mamma Jojo's London club nights.

There's definitely a gap in the market for an aerobics instructor to start a burlesque-acise keep fit class based on the performers' moves - it would make you feel good on the inside as well as the outside!

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