The word “Burlesque” means “to lampoon”, or “to subvert”. Today, this word is most often associated with the art of rollicking striptease. First popularized in mid-1800s England, this phenomenon has been enjoying a rampant Western revival since the nineties, but (save for Shanghai’s decadent 1930s) is relatively new to China. When this was written, Moonglow Burlesque was Beijing’s only burlesque troupe.
Leru, a.k.a. Trixie Royale is the Russian-born firecracker behind Moonglow. She was seduced by the charm, glamour and sensuality of the Jazz Era early on in her dance career. Through her swing and burlesque classes, her weekly cabaret show, as well as through her personal style, she strives to infuse Beijing’s alternative scene with the appreciation of vintage fashion, music and performance. Along with musician, dancer and partner, Lulu Galore, Leru recently produced a full-scale, two-hour variety extravaganza called, “Moonglow Cabaret 1935″. The Jazz Era tribute spectacle featured the best of Beijing’s emerging burlesque talent as well as musical and comedy acts. The cabaret’s promotional materials encouraged the attendees to don formal and period wear, furthering Leru’s agenda and adding to the event’s dreamy, anachronistic atmosphere.
We caught up with Leru and Lulu before one of their dance classes at CD Blues for a rooftop interview about what it’s like to cultivate an inherently subversive art form in China.