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Holiday Hijinks at the Ampersand Guild

The event was a fundraiser to help support the Ampersand Guild, which has recently relocated to 382 Cherry Street. Ampersand has been the home stage for Bible Belt Burlesque for two years, and Holiday Hijinks was the troupe’s way of giving back to the venue.

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Imagine with me, for just a moment, this classic Christmas morning scene. A quiet house, covered in Christmas-lights and snow, suddenly awakened by the sound of tiny footsteps thundering down the stairs, fresh garland cloaking the railing fills the air. Red and white striped cotton covers the kids from their wrists to their toes, causing them to slip and slide a little as they hurry across the floor. Once in the living room, they barely notice the milk glass completely drained and the few remaining crumbs left on Santa’s plate. Their eyes are wide and sparkling as they take in the pile of pristine presents beneath the dazzling tree. They look at their parents eagerly, squealing, “Can we open them, please?” Mom and Dad, standing side-by-side, beaming with the pride of a million workshop elves, simply nod and say, “Go ahead.” A snowstorm-like chaos ensues, wrapping paper and ribbons whirling across the room. There is laughter and applause and a whole lot of holiday cheer.

My first celebration of the season was a little different this year. On Saturday, December 2nd, a close friend and I attended a holiday event downtown. Just before 9 PM, we entered a building on Cherry Street and then made our way down a set of stairs, much like the pajama-clad children in the scenario above. However, we did not run, but stepped slowly instead, for she had been drinking and I was wearing heels. Also unlike those impatient, imaginary kids, we took our time getting to the event, stopping to order drinks (and purchase bumper stickers) at a pop-up bar inside the lobby. I had chosen not to drink on that particular night (my own personal lump of coal), but my friend ordered two glasses (read: plastic cups) of Chardonnay to-go.

We find our seats and settle in. The hostess for the evening, dripping in sartorial gold, appears and announces that there is still time to take photos with Santa—Sexy Santa, that is—before the show. I turn my head and meet the wide, sparkling eyes of my friend. Before I know it, we are back on our feet and walking again. Just as soon as we gain momentum, though, we turn the corner and immediately come to a halt. We have come face-to-face, not with a voluptuous Santa in red lace, but with a barely-bearded man in boxer shorts. Looking at her again, I can see the sparkle has left her eyes. She shrugs and we have our photo taken anyway, all the while she is double-fisting Chardonnay. We return to our seats, laughing all the way.

A little after 9 PM, the holiday hijinks finally begin. As you might have guessed by now, this was not your typical holiday event. Yet Holiday Hijinks presented by Bible Belt Burlesque was every bit as festive as your cousin’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, but with much more sex appeal. The next few hours pass by quickly, a blur of sequins and stockings appearing and then disappearing before us as each Sunday School graduate takes the stage. This is not your granny’s Sunday School, by the way. There was definitely a lot more stripping and shimmying than is typical at a more traditional holiday event. But what are Christmas presents wrapped and waiting beneath a tree if not a tease? The Sunday School graduates certainly taught me that tassels come in all shapes and sizes, and are not just for decorating trees. I also noticed that, just like the stockings on Christmas morning, stockings stuffed with flesh also look really fun to empty. And as different as this holiday celebration might appear, throughout the night there was still laughter and applause and a whole hell of a lot of holiday cheer.

The event was a fundraiser to help support the Ampersand Guild, which has recently relocated to 382 Cherry Street. Ampersand has been the home stage for Bible Belt Burlesque for two years, and Holiday Hijinks was the troupe’s way of giving back to the venue. Nothing says holiday spirit quite like that, and nothing says Macon quite like artists supporting other artists. Speaking of which, if you are still scrambling to find a few last-minute gifts, Ampersand offers a variety of memberships. Or if you want something a little more adventurous for that extra spirited friend, burlesque classes would definitely do the trick.

Burlesque might not be for everyone, especially when it comes to celebrating the holidays, but let’s face it, the holidays are not for everyone either. I for one am grateful for the inclusivity of events like this, and for the increasing diversity of Macon residents, which thanks to Ampersand Guild and Bible Belt Burlesque, has now expanded to include those in G-strings and fishnets.

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