You’ve been accepted!
The words every performer wants to read when they open that email : You’ve been accepted! When I read those words for the first time I cried like a baby.
I was so freaking happy and in absolute disbelief. Like, WHAT?! All the emotions coming out in excited bursts of laughter and tears. I had to read the email about 20 times before I told anyone because I might have read it wrong somehow. I’m sure there’s something about self-doubt that applies here too, but that’s not what were going with today.
Instead I’m gonna take you through what it was like applying for + attending my first burlesque festival. Looking back, one of the hardest parts of applying, was choosing which one I wanted to attend. There are a lot of festivals out there to pick from, so it was pretty overwhelming at first. I was still really new to the burlesque world when I made the decision to apply. But, you know, hard + fast. So, how did I decide?
Word of mouth played a pretty big role in helping me narrow it down. I reached out to some of the more seasoned performers I knew and they gave me a list of festivals they had been to and ones that had a really good reputation in the community. Out of that list, I was like — Where + when do I want to go? This was going to be a vacation of sorts for me, so what sounded like a fun place to visit? And when was the festival taking place? Lastly, which festivals were actually in the process of accepting applications?
I decided to apply to the 2019 Colorado Burlesque Festival to be held in Denver later that year. I submitted video for “Read Me My Rights” since it was my most polished number. Submitting video. I struggled with this one on a personal level. I wasn’t ready to have my naked body on the internet yet and the files are too big to email. Meaning, you have to have an online platform where your video can be viewed. Most applications I’ve seen since are pretty specific that they don’t want to have to use passwords and I wasn’t all about a public account where just anyone could view my videos. More research was needed.
Ultimately, I decided to sign up for a Vimeo Plus account. It gave me the ability to upload all of my videos, create private links to use on my applications, while keeping them out of the public eye. The videos can only be seen by those with the link and you can choose whether or not to allow downloading. No passwords required. Yay! It wasn’t super expensive and it’s really user friendly. Sold. Back to the application!
I applied to just the one festival and I only submitted one act. So again, putting all my eggs in one basket so to speak. It was torture waiting to hear back. So far, I’d say the average wait time to hear back is around 2 months. But when I finally did, well, you know … ECSTATIC! I was in and it was time to start planning!
First thing’s first, I made a list. Everything that needed to happen to make this trip run as smooth as possible along with everything I needed to send off to the producers before the actual event. You know stuff like: hotel reservations (some festivals will have a lower rate for a block of rooms), mode of transportation, signing up for workshops the festival was offering, music files, promo pics, bio. Keeping track of it all in one place to help simplify my scattered thoughts.
Knowing it was my first festival, I decided to take a travel buddy - my super supportive friend and fellow performer Aria Forte (follow her on Instagram, she’s AH-MA-ZING : @ariaforte). We turned this 3-day festival into a week-long, road trip adventure. It took two days to drive to Denver from where we live, and we didn’t turn on music once. Nobody slept during the drive. It was just constant conversation and a really crazy bonding experience.
We got to the hotel the day before the festival was set to start. With all the excitement going on, I don’t remember the exact sequence of events leading up to my performance. I do know that I was applying rhinestones and adding butt straps to my thong the night before and creating some sparkle on my hat. But that wasn’t where the major panic came in. Remember that belt … the one that took 3 before I found one that worked? Well, I forgot it. Yep … left it states away. Remember that list … I should have added a section for costume pieces. But here we were, so I went out and bought a new one. Got back to the hotel, tried it out. It was too long. And this friends, is where it is particularly helpful to have a travel buddy. Because while I was finishing up other details for that night, Aria went to yet another store to find a different belt for me. And thankfully it was perfect! Still use it to this day.
Once a sufficient belt had been found, we were on our way to the venue for tech times. Well, I was going to run tech — Aria found a cute pole studio right around the corner to take a class. We waved good-bye to each other, as I walked into the venue. I checked in at the front and then took a look around. It was huge! By far the biggest stage I had been on. But it wasn’t the size of the stage that was cause for concern. The stage was actually topped like a textured rubber mat. That was going to be problematic for my slides. But upon closer inspection, they had a kind of thick, shiny paper taped about 3 feet deep on the front edge of the stage. So I had to be real strategic about where I ended up for those moments. If I didn’t make it on the paper, I wouldn’t slide. And if I hit the tape with my boots, I’d be stuck and I’d probably rip the paper. I made sure to run things a few times, taking notes about where to place my chair and where I needed to be for the floor moves.
I tend to thrive under pressure — but there are times when I could do without it. This was very much one of those times.
Fortunately, by the time I was on stage, I had everything I needed to perform, awesome support in the audience, and another first to check off my list. My performance went off without a hitch and the rest of the weekend was a breeze. We watched every performance and took two workshops with Ray Gunn. And yes, fan girl pics were in full effect. We also took advantage of a city full of beautiful street art and had our own impromptu photo shoots. The weekend ended with a performer’s brunch that Sunday. And all I can say is that I would come back year after year after year. You know, if they’ll have me. Everyone I met was so incredibly nice and welcoming. Inspired is the only way to describe how I felt as we started the drive home.
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