Naughty academy

At the new Berlin Burlesque Academy master the art of garter-snapping and glove-removing like a pro in only four-weeks.

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Photo by German Palomeque

The cosy studio is filled with props, feather boas and top hats. Music from the musical Nine fills the room as satin gloves are eased off hands, sensually but powerfully. “When you pull off the glove, you must look like you own ze world!” instructs French chair-dancing tutor Tara D’Arson to the young woman, a university student who’s just joined the new Berlin Burlesque Academy. By the end of the four-week course, she hopes to have mastered the art of garter-snapping and glove-removing like a pro. “I can practice with my boyfriend!” she says with a laugh. But ultimately, “getting women to embrace the power of their own bodies” is what owner Marlene von Steenvag, self-proclaimed “German Queen of Burlesque” and founder of the Berlin Burlesque Festival, is after. Since September her small Prenzlauer Berg school offers a wide variety of courses in English or German: short introductions (€19), classes on how to seduce your partner (€99), and intensive workshops geared at would-be stage performers (€239), as well as personalised bachelorette parties where future brides get to “go wild” for a night. If this is sounding rather gender-normative for Berlin, it is: “boylesque” classes aren’t offered so far. But the other half of humanity will be treated to the warm encouragement of charismatic teachers and complimentary crémant, creating an atmosphere where they feel they can – almost – own the world.