Monday, April 27, 2009

A Sorry and (Part One Of) A Story

So, you may have noticed that it's been a while since I've written here...I have lots of reasons, like massive layoffs at work (I was spared, but now have more responsibility), illness, travel and writer's block that probably happened as a result of all of those things. It also happens that I've been a bit remiss in responding to a couple of questions, which sucks because I really like it when you ask me stuff. Please consider this my make-up post, an attempt at an apology for having stayed away too long, and I will now finally give you the attention you deserve.

Q: Do you have any idea where to find a pair of retro lacey gloves? I have this killer outfit, and I *need* gloves to finish the look. --from "Elizabeth"

A: One of the best sites I've found for gloves is Yes, they have lacey gloves, but they also have dyeables, opera length, fishnet, leather, crochet, silk and pearl gloves, plus lots more. No matter what your budget is, you should be able to find at least one thing here that will work. They also have a million (or so) colors. I've ordered from them, and have been quite happy. And no, they're not paying me to recommend them! You can also take a trip back in time and read my post in June 2008 about gloves here.

Q: I was wondering if, one of these days, you might expound on your own entry into tight-lacing, perhaps including some of the mistakes you made along the way and how you got started? You mentioned false starts - were they a poor choice in the corset you began with? I'm not planning to make a go of it until the summer is over - it's already in the 90s here, so I'm sure it's going to be a hot one. I would really enjoy seeing someone else's journey as they entered this world. --from a private email

A: I remember very well when I announced to my man that I was going to start tight-lacing. I was wearing a backless dress, figuring that my time in them was limited if I'd soon be wearing a corset 24/7, and we were out to a very nice dinner. I swear he almost choked, but I'm pretty sure it was from excitement. Not long after that, we went down to our favorite fetish shop in Chelsea, and I tried on some styles. I had already been in a few, but never with the idea that I would actually wear one out of the dressing room, and it is a totally different mindset. This time, I paid more attention to what kind of shape I wanted--did I like a gentle curve, or a sharp wasp waist? If I was planning to wear it every day, did I really want one with the most exotic colors that would make it difficult to wear under light-colored clothing? Plus, overbusts were out of the picture, since underbusts are best suited to tightlacing, as I had read. I also had to make my tightlacing intentions clear to the salesperson, since not every corset is designed to withstand hours and hours of wear, day after day. (It should be mentioned that there is a great section on tightlacing in William and Gloria Brame's book, Different Loving. Even if you're not interested in corsets, it's a must-read if you want to learn more about the psychology of BDSM in its various forms.)

I decided on a blush-pink corset by a man named Shane Aaron, who used to work at the shop but had since relocated to Las Vegas and was filling custom orders from his studio there. I fell in love with a very light, silky fabric, had my measurements taken, and off went my order. A couple of months later, my corset arrived, and I was elated. I wore it out of the shop, my man's hand in mine, very proud. But then a few days later, the fabric appeared to be thinning. I brought it back to the shop, and it turned out I had confirmed Shane's fear that the corset material was too light for tightlacing. It couldn't stand 23 hours of wear, and couldn't hold up to the friction caused by rubbing against my clothes. The corset was sent back, and in a couple of months I had the exact same model in a more durable pink fabric.

For the first few weeks, I slept in my corset, as I understood this to be the true definition of tightlacing and if I was going to tightlace, then by God I was really going to do it. Eventually, though, I questioned whether sleeping in the corset was really making much of an impact on my shape, and I felt my skin needed some time to breathe. In addition, I thought it might also be good for the corset to rest. Even though the fabric was more durable than what the first corset was made of, it was still fairly light, and I reasoned that rolling around in bed probably wasn't good for the garment. Ultimately I think that sleeping in the corset helped me get used to wearing it, but then the need for that passed, and I felt quite comfortable while laced. (Rather, let's say reasonably comfortable. I don't care what anyone says. Corsets are not 'comfortable' in the strictest sense of the word, no matter how long you've been wearing them.)

More or less, that was Season One. The weather got too warm, and I sweated through the corset so I had to take a break. The perspiration was neither good for my skin or for the corset, as over time, sweat will basically eat the fabric, especially material that is on the delicate side. Which led to my decision for Season Two's corset, but that is another post.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Balle, balle!

Every week for a few months, I've gotten my ass kicked doing Masala Bhangra. You may have heard of it, but in case not, it's a cardio workout based on folk dance in Punjab, India. Recently, a woman named Sarina Jain developed a cardio workout, combining traditional bhangra with Bollywood dance moves, and the result is Masala (spicy) Bhangra. My gym has a class in Masala Bhangra taught by one of Sarina's students, and believe me when I say it is a tough workout. This class is known throughout the gym as "the one that makes you sweat"--my classmates report that the other aerobic dance classes are more like a brisk warmup compared to this.

One of the things that has been very interesting to me about bhangra is that, according to my teacher, the dance was developed for men and not women. As such, it's really not at all graceful like ballet, and it's not sexy like salsa; in fact, we are encouraged to keep our hips as straight as possible. There's lots of hopping and clapping, but there is also a great emphasis on shoulders. I've found this especially great because I carry all my stress in my shoulders, but rarely give them much attention, and it's been helpful to me in developing my burlesque routine (which will be another post entirely).

The most challenging thing for me, besides working up a vat of sweat, has been the importance of right and left. I know, I know…knowing your right from left is important for any dance, not to mention life, but for someone who still makes an 'L' with her hands to figure it out, it's hard. I've never been a dancer, and I guess I never really had to focus on it. But with Masala Bhangra, everything is moving so fast, and you can’t do most of the workout without a strong sense of direction which I have never had. Over the weeks, though, I think it might be coming to me. Every one of us, from the veterans to the newbies, makes mistakes in class, but finally, I'm not the one making the most anymore. Now my challenge is when first-timers try to join in the middle of the class, or even ten minutes after we've started. They're hopelessly lost, and it throws off the rest of the class. Masala Bhangra is a bit like line dancing, where you partly take your cues from the rest of the group--so when someone suddenly stops or turns the wrong way, it can really throw you off.

Because it is a man's dance, Masala Bhangra might seem a little odd to recommend to pin-up fans. But it works wonders for your calves, among other things, and if anything you become more aware of your sensuality in regular life once you've spent some time bottling it up. It's also worth noting that we've only ever had two men try and join the class. Only one has made it to the end of the class, but he hasn't returned since.
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Pinup Tales by Kitty du Vert is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.