Time Out takes a class at the Workers School of Excellence
Jo King (pictured, right), director of the London School of Striptease and our teacher for the evening, is a woman who knows how to make an entrance. All eyes turn as she sashays into class, clad in a sumptuous floor-length coat and shiny patent-leather shoes. Beneath, her bosoms are a splendid sight, tightly leashed in a salmon-pink front-laced top. ‘Are they in?’ she asks, looking down. ‘That makes a change.’ This, actress friend M and I decide, is a lady we can learn from.
Attired in everything from sparkly frocks to jumper-and-jeans, our class encompasses ladies of all proportions and professions. A nurse, a legal secretary, a hairdresser, a professional dancer or two and… two TV-camera-toting girls, who, it transpires, are filming a documentary about Jo. M and I exchange horrified glances. Would we sign consent forms? ‘Of course!’ we smile, silently gnashing our teeth and fervently praying for the camera to explode.
The class at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club begins with the wiggle – winding your hips in a seductive figure of eight. It sounds simple enough, but instead of inclining one at a time as instructed, my legs insist on bending simultaneously. Seeing me sway like an inebriated Thunderbird, Jo undulates over and puts her hands on my hips, swooshing them about. The camera pans in. Bastards.
Things look up as we move on to the grind, a down-and-dirty gyration. Next, the bump (a fierce forward-thrust of the hips) and side bump (making come-hither hand movements to one side of your hips, then throwing your bottom violently in that direction). Alluring hand flourishes prove tricky. Mine is more of an overwrought wringing motion, à la Lady Macbeth: behind me, Jo spots another girl who ‘looks as if she’s making pasta’.
We’re back on safer ground with the shimmy – high-speed bottom-waggling. When accomplished practitioners set their derrières in motion, the effect is a positively mesmerising blur of buttock. ‘Easiest way to get a cheer from an audience,’ says Jo, as we gaze at her juddering rear. The top shimmy is equally satisfying – we pout fit to burst and lean forward, quivering our cleavages. Sports bras, pah!
By the end we’re full of newfound bravado and bonhomie, prowling in a circle with ‘sexy walks’ (mine perhaps a touch John Cleese), blowing kisses over one shoulder and toying with feather boas – ‘At the end, drop them like a discarded lover,’ commands Jo, releasing hers with a magnificent move of displeasure.
After the class comes the Tournament of Tease, and the club fills up as four brave souls strut their stuff before the judges. Props vary, from heart-shaped lollipops to flags, but nipple tassels are de rigueur. Ensconced at a table, listening to a classmate’s enthralling tales of life as a lapdancer, we lustily cheer them on. The evening descends into a glorious haze of whisky, whirling breasts and unforgettable lines – ‘It was VE day, and I pulled a string of flags out of my vagina,’ one of the judges fondly reminisces. A girl twirls fire between her resplendent bosoms by way of a grand finale, and we totter (sexily but tipsily) out into the night.
I have gleaned several important lessons from the class. One, that bosoms and bottoms are assets to be celebrated, not hidden away. Two, that a woman who can shake her rump very fast has the world at her feet. Would I go again? You bet your bottom-shimmying dollar. Will I be watching that TV documentary? Not a chance.
The Workers School of Excellence finale is at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club on Dec 3. www.londonschoolofstriptease.co.uk
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