Burlesque to be weekend of fun for all

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Pictures from the 2016 festival and, below, organiser and performer Kimberley Edmunds (Foxee Stole).


An even bigger and better weekend of fun and laughter is promised at the second annual North Wales Burlesque Festival to which cabaret artistes have now been added. And it is to take off over Friday 29th to Sunday 31st January.

The weekend of entertainment is all set to take place at the Imperial Hotel in Llandudno. It is £26.50 for the whole weekend which includes access to all shows, all workshops, the dealers’ hall, a museum and the film Gypsy on the Sunday night.

Friday will see the Rising Star/Seren yn Codi competition in which acts who are new to performing (less than two years) can enter. It is not just burlesque but is open to any type of act such as dancers, musicians, singers, magicians and sideshow acts. All are welcome. The  semi-finals will start at 3pm and the finalists will compete at 7pm. The winner(s) will receive a place in the 2017 gala show.

That will be followed by the Sioe Pysgod a Sglodion (fish and chip show) which will feature acts who are Welsh or live in Wales. It will be hosted by Llandudno magician Jay Gatling and there are singers (including Welsh language), a hypnotist, comedy, belly dancing and burlesque striptease.

burlesque 3On Saturday there are workshops all day in beginners’ burlesque, vintage hair, contemporary dance, hooping, dance fitness, life drawing, fashion and the history of burlesque. The evening show stars some of the best names in burlesque and cabaret including jugglers, singers, musicians, striptease artists, sideshow performers and pole dancers. Following this there will be a jam session where people can play music and dance.

On Sunday two workshops will be led by world famous photographer Neil Kendall. He was responsible for all the images for one of Dita Von Teese’s tours and was recently voted Vintage Photographer of the year at the national Vintage Awards. Neil is leading one session for models and one for photographers.

After these there is a chance for everyone to put the workshops into practice at the Sunday shoot where they can take images which may be used for their portfolios. The event will be closed on Sunday evening with the ‘onesie wind down’ when Gypsy will be shown on the big screen, giving everyone a chance to relax.

Through the ages

When people think of burlesque they generally think of strippers. It conjures up images of seedy little venues, nipple tassels and poorly executed dance routines that have no purpose other than to drag out the amount of time it takes for the girl on stage to take her clothes off. It’s similar to the way magicians are stereotyped as being the guy in a tux and top hat producing doves and sawing a lady in half.

Burlesque hasn’t always been this way. Before the 1920s it was a thriving art form that was the alternative comedy of its day. These shows would satirise or ‘burlesque’ politicians, celebrities, the upper classes and royalty. They would be full of music, comedy and dancing but were definitely adult shows, often using sexual innuendo to deliver their messages but there were no strippers.

Stripping wasn’t added until the 1920s and the reason was that the old burlesque circuit had started to crumble and theatre owners needed a cheap way to get bums on seats. At the time strippers would work backrooms of pubs for tips alone and so were quite happy to take their act in to an actual theatre. Of course, their male audiences followed but burlesque is an art form that men and women should be able to enjoy together.

For this reason, the North Wales Burlesque Festival concentrates on variety including acts such as jugglers, magicians, belly dancers, pole dancers, musicians, comedians, sideshow performers and acrobats. Unlike most burlesque shows, the focus is not on the performers who are removing their clothes. There will be something for everyone.

The  North Wales Burlesque Festival started in 2015 and was organised by Kimberley Edmunds (Foxee Stole) and Russel Erwood (Erwyd – yes, Erwyd the Jester). In 2016, the festival will have built on the previous success and looks to be well worth attending.

To check out exactly what will be happening and when as well, who will be appearing and to book tickets, visit the festival’s website at www.northwalesburlesque.com

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North Wales MS charity set for year ahead

Future plans and activities for MS Synergy were decided by members at the annual general meeting held alongside its September monthly gathering earlier this week.

MS Synergy is North Wales’s own independent support group charity for people with multiple sclerosis and those affected by it, such as relatives, carers, friends or anyone with any kind of interest in the illness.

At the AGM, held at Prestatyn’s Paanshee Bangladeshi Restaurant on Tuesday 15th, members approved the annual report, adopted the accounts and took important decisions about future administration and organisation. These were finalised by making some minor amendments to the constitution.

After two years as chairman, Nigel Partington had already forewarned us that he had decided it was best for him to stand down. Naturally, everyone was sorry his health had prompted that decision and sent him their best wishes along with their hopes that he would attend future gatherings whenever he felt able.Kathy Ruane

In his place, the group was fortunate to be able to elect two Co-Chairmen. These are Christine Cooper  (below) and Kathleen Ruane (right). Kathy has MS and if her surname sounds familiar, that is probably because her brother is Chris Ruane, former Labour MP for Vale of Clwyd. He served as MP for 18 years before losing his seat at this year’s general election.christine cooper_edited

The role of secretary proved to be a little more difficult to fill but was resolved with the help of some lateral thinking and ingenuity. I have been secretary for the last two years but moving to Spain in November meant that MS Synergy needed a new secretary – or did it?

With no-one putting themselves forward, the meeting decided to re-elect me (below left) as secretary to do from Spain everything that I had always done on computer in Colwyn Bay. Let’s face it, that can be done anywhere in the world with access to the internet. The one important part of the work that needs a hands-on presence in North Wales, the organisationian gravatar_edited of the monthly meetings or ‘gatherings’, was given to another committee member.

Former long-term group organiser and, for the past two years, gwawr_editedtreasurer, Gwawr Jones (below centre), was re-elected to look after the finances while Eryl Thomas (below right) Eryl Thomas_editedjoined the committee as Gatherings Coordinator.

Three remaining committee member roles were left unfilled, allowing the committee to co-opt people in the future.

With me going to be many miles away, members agreed that future general meetings and committee meetings should include a free computer-to-computer video link to make it possible and feasible for me to take an active part and to take minutes. Isn’t modern computer technology wonderful?

One last piece of re-organisation agreed by the AGM was in regard to bank payments and withdrawals. The previous constitutional requirement was for each cheque to bear two signatures from any of the three officers. An amendment passed on the night now requires two signatures from any of the officers and committee members resident in the UK. That will make the treasurer’s work a lot easier.

  • MS Synergy is a ‘local small charity’ as defined by the Charities Act. As such, it is only allowed to raise up to £5,000 a year.




12 weeks until we leave, the countdown has begun

Our flat (or apartment) is well into its “We’re moving” feel. Many drawers are already empty, wardrobes are no longer bulging at the seams but hold only the clothes we will be wearing now and during our cruise across the Atlantic and our holiday in the USA. It most definitely is wonderfully exciting and the beginning of an exhilarating adventure.

Almost everything going direct to Spain is already packed. It certainly needs to be as, for various reasons, our limited number of crates etc are being picked up from North Wales during the middle of this month and are being delivered to our new home in September – a full two months before we will be arriving.

Where we live now has an integral garage that we have used to store any items that left no room for a car but that is already changing. All the large items have been sold off, most through North Wales Auctions, and a few via Ebay. So far sales have brought in more than £900 with more due to come. Apart from an old Indian sword being offered in an antique sale, when we leave in October the flat will be cleared by the auction house and the furniture will be sold in its next general sale.

Lisa is already saying “There is so much to do” but, really, what needs to be done is all well in hand and a vast amount has been accomplished.

De-cluttering is very much a word of the times and it is very good to do from time to time. We did ‘de-clutter’ before we moved to our current home back in 2012 but there is a vast difference this time.  Three years ago, we hired a van and got friends to help us to move two miles to somewhere with a garage to hold all those things y0u really should get rid of but don’t. This time we are moving not just two miles but more than 1,600, we need to pay for whatever we want to take with us to be delivered – and limitations about how much we can take with us certainly focuses the mind on the need to de-clutter.

Fortunately, furniture itself is less of an issue. We are taking no furniture with us as we have bought our new home more or less fully furnished. Of course, there are a few items we do need to buy and others we want to buy but there are many more that we neither need nor want as we are happy with what is already there.

Lisa and I are both finding it hard to wait until our October holiday and our November move to Spain.