Rebel Grrrl Burlesque Show

By Hannah Pierce
Music Journalist

Riot Grrrl music. The underground, all girl, feminist, punk movement of the ‘90s is about to get a tribute show. Rebel Grrrl Burlesque: A Benefit for SafePlace Austin is set to take place on Saturday, March 4, 2017 at The North Door in Austin. A Folie à Femme Production, this show seeks to celebrate the music of the Riot Grrrl movement through performance art. The evening will feature live vocal and aerial performances. And of course, an art form with it’s deepest roots in rebellion, Burlesque.  

While the stylings may vary, all of the acts will share common themes of feminism, marginalization and empowerment. Riot Grrrl was more than just a music genre, it was a subculture complete with art, activism, and a strong DIY attitude. The production will feature songs by bands like Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and Huggy Bear. There will also be performances to music by artist that aren’t traditionally Riot Grrrl, but still represent the same values and emphasis on overall female bad-assery. The shows producer, Belladonna Darling, was inspired to put together an event that would honor the experiences of the performers and promote the genre.

“Many of the acts are brand new, designed to showcase performer’s experiences with feminism, toxic masculinity, queer spaces, body image and more,” said Darling. “It’s empowering. I fell in love with Bikini Kill all over again when putting this show together and I’ve enjoyed exploring lesser known riot grrrl bands with the help of the internet.”

As a style, Riot Grrrl has earned it’s reputation for being unapologetic and unabashedly political. And while many fans are attracted to Riot Grrrl for it’s in-your-face sounds and musicality, the range of emotions captured in the music are far more complex. Exploring themes of self-identity and sexuality. For featured performer Lola LeStrange, Riot Grrrl’s personal meaning can be found in its vast emotional explorations.

“The one aspect of the genre that appealed to me then and now is the sense of vicious vulnerability in much of the music,” said LeStrange. “It’s probably why I’m a bigger fan of the much more volatile songs like “Bruise Violet” (Babes in Toyland) or “Shitlist” (L7)”.

Being a genre unafraid of touching on subjects of abuse it seems fitting that the show will benefit an organization that serves to protect victims of physical violence. The show will raise awareness and resources for SafePlace Austin. According to their website, the mission of SafePlace is “to lead in ending sexual assault and exploitation, child abuse and domestic violence through prevention, intervention and advocacy for change.” Folie à Femme is excited to be donating all of the night’s revenue to the organization.

“100% of the proceeds will be donated, including ticket sales, raffle ticket sales and direct donations,” said Darling. “All the performers and crew members are generously donating their time!”

Along with the music, no Riot Grrrl show would be complete without the accompaniment of Zines. A zine is a self-published magazine containing information about any subject the writer is passionate about. Essential to the formation and growth of the movement, zines allowed for information and ideas to be exchanged within the community. And this show will be paying proper tribute. According to the events website, “a limited run of Folie à Femme zines will feature the performers inspiration in their own words and images”.

The evening is set to celebrate a movement created by women who refused to accept society’s standards of what a woman should talk, walk, and look like. True feminist art. Art that was driven by attitude, strength and vulnerability. Support your local girl gang. Support your local artists. And make a hell of a lot of noise doing it.  

For more information about the event, tickets, and details visit their Facebook webpage.

Other reading: Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution

Featured image by Hannah Pierce.

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