This was a special occasion, and a wonderful one. The doors opened at 6pm, on the former Theatre Royale, next door to Manchester’s Free Trade Hall. It was a cold night, and the audience had traveled from around the North West to see the event.
The bar was large, but expensive and lacking in any real ale, but the staging area was excellent.
Early arrivals were given a champagne reception, and there were boxes of ‘Naughty Chocolates’ on every table. Seats filled up quickly, and I was lucky to get one near the front.
1940’s and 1950’s jazz music entertained us, along with a lovely slide show presentation of shots from previous Slippery Belle events.
Bella Besame helped out on the box office and behind the scenes, though occasionally she would help out on stage too.
The show started with the very funny compere, LADY J performing a mime with two homemade glove puppets, made from cardboard boxes. He quickly introduced the first dancer – EVE D’EMERALDE. Eve danced with a silhouetted cut out figure to Me And My Shadow, and quickly removed her garments, as she did so, not surprisingly.
A video presentation followed, with regular Slippery Belle guest MR MAGIC presenting birthday greetings and performing a clever trick with cups and balls, which was clearly not using trick photography.
A vivacious young lady called VELODY now presented two songs, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, sung in a figure hugging night gown, which she removed to reveal a daring short skirt and top to perform Valerie (best known for the rendition by Amy Winehouse).
CHERRY NOIR was next to present a Burlesque show, as a prisoner in love in chains and convict fatigues, receiving a series of valentine messages from admirers, most of whom she rejected. One was clearly from the compere, which she jokingly discarded, before finding one from her true love, who had also sent her a file with which she broke her chains, and then removed her outfit too.
POPPY M CHERRY followed, dressed a little like V from V For Vendetta, or Guy Fawkes, and did a straight forward no nonsense strip tease.
MILLIE DOLLAR, who traveled in from London, did a strip of her own, from a very elaborate corset, so managing to find the right threads to unlace and keep in step with such grace took some doing.
WILLOW BLUE came out as a birthday cake, which she discarded, layer by layer in Slippery Belle’s honour.
CRIMSON SKYE came on as a very sexy Hannibal Lector, complete with straightjacket and mask, but nothing on her legs, and escaped from the jacket and other clothing to Patsy Cline’s Crazy. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at Anthony Hopkins in the same light again.
There was now an intermission from the burlesque team, but the entertainment continued when the dancers from a 1940’s Jitterbug class showed what they can do, turning the stage into the setting for numbers straight out of a major Broadway musical, to considerable audience appreciation.
A free raffle followed, with prizes ranging from breast clamps provided by the dancers to Innocent Smoothie packs and even a Pole dancing Pole. I didn’t win anything myself sadly.
Part two of Te main show was launched with an eastern Belly Dancing routine by EASTERN BLAZE, three young ladies making a very welcome debut.
LOLA POPS came on to do her CSI investigator routine, a reprise of the one I had seen her do recently at Altered Ego (See BURLESQUE though it is not a routine anyone could tire of seeing repeated.
Most of the dancers from part one came on to do a second set now. MILLIE DOLLAR offered one of the best fan dances I have seen to date.
EVE D’EMERALDE was a mad doctor, drinking chemical solutions in a Jeckyl & Hyde fashion, which caused her to shed clothes, right down to her radiation hazard breast tassels.
The singer VELODY returned for another song, in another stunning outfit.
WILLOW BLUE came on in some gender confusion, and ambiguity as either a man trying on women’s garments, or a woman who had been impersonating a man reverting to her feminine personality – either way, the transition meant inevitable loss of garment.
CHERRY NOIR presented a medley of rain related songs, settling on Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain, as the maid threw dust over her from above to simulate a shower of water.
POPPY M CHERRY came on as a literal cat burglar, to the Macavity song from Cats, but left her clothes behind as well as stealing lots of swag.
The final routine was a stunning rendition of Foxy Lady by CRIMSON SKYE, coming on initially in 1940’s fake fox fur, but stripping to a hard rocking biker’s moll look for a more rock and roll take on the same Foxy Lady song, and stripping to fox tail breast tassels.
Many of us took to the stage to join in the final rendition of Happy Birthday for Bella and the Slippery Belle. Bella has created a medium in which many performers have developed talents and skills they never would have had a chance to display if not for her tireless commitment. The performers thanked her by clubbing together to create a photo-album record of events over the year, which they presented to her at the close of the show. Bella was clearly moved by the gesture. I knew what was coming as I had been asked if I had any photos, but sadly I haven’t taken a camera with me to the events attended to date.
The post-show celebrations had to e moved to a smaller, cosier room, as the lain stage room was double booked for a late night party by students for some event called carnage. As I left there were hundreds of the students queuing to get in, though it’s unlikely they could match the pleasures and delights of the party I had just left….
The DJ, DR. SID was also on top form. Hope Slippery Belle goes onto celebrates many more birthdays in the years to come.
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