Austin’s Jigglewatts Burlesque Company performs with a live jazz band

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For the first time since before the pandemic, Jigglewatts Burlesque will pull out the sequins, feathers and pasties for an evening of classic striptease to the soundtrack of the Copa Kings, a live jazz ensemble. Stripping to big band standards that emerged alongside the art of bump and grind, the troupe aims to recreate the golden age of burlesque.

Throughout their 16-year career, the Jigglewatts have made it their mission to shed light on the historic connections between jazz music and burlesque that have been largely erased from the history books.

“I know so many musicians who have no idea,” says Jigglewatts singer-songwriter and dancer Jolie Goodnight. “They went to school. They graduated from (the University of North Texas) or whatever and burlesque wasn’t even a word they heard.

Jigglewatts Burlesque artists Jolie Goodnight, left, Something Blue, top left, Selma Bawdy, top right, Lady Lola Le Strange, bottom right, Ruby Lamb, bottom center and Ruby Joule, bottom right left, pose for a photo May 18 during a rehearsal in Austin.  The Jigglewatts will have their first live show since before the pandemic on May 26.

Big band composer Duke Ellington regularly collaborated with burlesque dancers, writing the song “Satin Doll” for Detroit dancer Tony Elling, who used Ellington’s name as inspiration for his stage name. Lounge singer Mel Tormé dabbled with famed dancer April March, who made her Dallas debut, and Nat King Cole had a relationship with burlesque legend Tempest Storm.

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“Even Miles Davis has quotes about what he learned from burlesque dancers,” Goodnight says.

These days, “burlesque-style jazz is considered cheap, trashy, cheap jazz,” says Ruby Joule, co-founder of Jigglewatts.

Jigglewatts Burlesque performer Something Blue has a collection of photos of famous burlesque performers at her home on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Austin.  The Jigglewatts met ahead of their May 26 show which highlights the intertwined history of jazz music and burlesque.

But many of these songs were composed in collaboration with dancers.

“The musicians would bring a piece of music that they were working on and the burlesque dancer would work on it with them and say, ‘I’m going to need some cymbals here so I can do a bump over there,'” Goodnight says. .

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She wants musicians to experience “the sneakier side of their own story, because there’s so much freedom in that,” she says.

The context of a burlesque show adds an element of danger, a titillating allure.

“(Music) doesn’t need to be so intellectualized. It can also be from your bones, your belly, your intestines, your heart and your soul,” she says.

If you go: Jigglewatts Burlesque and the Copa Kings

When: 8 p.m. on May 26.

Or: Spiderhouse Ballroom, 2906 Fruth St.

Cost: From $20.

Tickets and information: thejigglewattsburlesque.com

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Henry R. Wright