Dance With the Devil! Demonic Vintage Burlesque

Burlesque is something I’ve always appreciated; one of my best friends danced burlesque for years, so I found myself in the front row of countless shows. It’s a dance that hasn’t changed much over the years – at least, when I was going to shows there wasn’t any twerking, that may have changed. But the routines, costumes and atmosphere are very much rooted in the past. There is a lot of reverence for the dancers that came before, women who invented the pinup aesthetic. It goes without saying – but I’ll say it – that women’s sexuality has long been associated with Satanic worship, witchcraft and demonic activities, so a popular routine from the early to mid 20th century was the “Dance with the Devil” routine. It usually involved a prop devil attached to the dancer, often cupping the dancer’s breasts or otherwise lovingly embracing her while she danced across the stage and shed her clothing. In fact, looking at some of these pictures of the Devil’s dance, it looks like I have burlesque to thank for the god-awful sexy Devil costume I’m subjected to every year in some form. But these women rock it, and make me say, fuck yeah I want to dance with Satan!


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Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation webzine and clothing.