World Burlesque Day

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Photo: Lara Blake

26 April  World Burlesque Day was created with passion by Sapphira and is supported by the World Burlesque Academy. It is an international day and celebration of all things burlesque created by our founder who is a singer/songwriter and author. Sapphira also owns and co-produces the Ibiza Burlesque Festival.

What is burlesque?

Burlesque heralds from the theatre and comedy and has enjoyed a revival for nearly two decades.

With exaggerated costumes, theatrics and make-up it provides a platform for people of all ages and body types to express themselves and has been the cornerstone for many to grow in confidence.

What has burlesque done in people's lives?

Every year we are inundated on World Burlesque Day with testimonials of the freedom and body confidence people have found in this artform. From retired burlesque legends to novice performers, students and professionals, the confidence has helped people overcome many battles and has extended off the stage into being confident in their personal lives. We believe this is because of the freedom of expression where as an artist you can try any number of things and create and direct your own story and persona.

Why should people try it?

We are biased but we think it's wonderful thing for anyone of any body shape, ability and age to try. It's really why we started the day to grow the scene and bring in more newcomers!

Lee, G.R. (1999) Gypsy: A memoir. Berkeley, Cailf.: Frog, Ltd. Reproduced with permission - North Atlantic Books

The day is in honour of a famous burlesque performer of yesteryear, Gypsy Rose Lee (1911 - 1970). Gypsy wrote a memoir that was adapted to stage and screen.

In 2023 we acknowledged the memory of another artist, Josephine Baker (1906 - 1975), a performer and activist whose work in the Second World War was awarded with the the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honour with the rosette of the Resistance. She was inducted in the Pantheon in France in 2021. (, 2023)


Worley Photographer (1926) Saluting our sisters: Josephine Baker, Saluting Our Sisters: Josephine Baker - Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. Available at: (Accessed: 22 November 2023).


Burlesque today

The growth in burlesque worldwide has been incredible. We have reached 71 new countries including Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Seychelles, Maldives and Macedonia taking us to a total of 151 countries.

We created the day to make burlesque a talking point in the media, too. We know the media provides a voice in our communities and can help us show the mental health benefits.

Ellie Etoile's Burlesque in Barnsley UK get in the press!

Every year the World Burlesque Day launches an online challenge initiated at our headquarters in London that then ricochets around the world.

We thank our supporters, Secrets In Lace Europe. Wearing their Nylons, we can take on the world and            so can you!

In 2024 we celebrated World Burlesque Day with our biggest Dance Challenge ever and over 1,000 participants from 10 countries took part this is because of the amazing dance choreography created by Ginger Fatale at Soul On Fire Dance and the great song "Burlesque Ooh La La" that was fun and catchy written by Sapphira & Doc Moody.

In 2024 we have set a world record validated by notaries Official World Record. 

Over 14 Burlesque Artists, Dance Schools and Festivals set

*World's Largest Online Burlesque Class*

at 155 people

Hosted by the World Burlesque Academy and Ellie Etoile’s Burlesque in the United Kingdom with Soul On Fire Dance in the United States, we are excited to attempt this online feat bringing the world together.

  • Burlesque Prevue (South Africa)

  • Burlesque Esceula de Bolivana (Bolivia)

  • Burlesque Bretagne (France)

  • Muse School of Burlesque (Australia)

  • Kootenay Burlesque Festival (Canada)

  • Ibiza Burlesque Festival (Spain)

  • Burlesque Buffet (New York, USA)

  • Kiki Risque’s Showgirls (Denver USA)

  • BodyMagick Temple (Portland, USA)

  • Coos Cabaret (Coquille, USA)

  • Divine Huntress School of Sensuality (Salida, USA)

  • Madame Osiris, (Fife, UK)

  • BAW Dance (London, UK)

  • Cherry Dance (Eastbourne, UK)


We are so grateful to burlesque Queens, Dita Von Teese and Immodesty Blaize who took time out of their busy schedules to wish us well for the day.

There are many note-worthy supporters from over the years including

  • Crazy Horse Paris

  • New 42 (site of New Victory theatre which is the former famous Minskys in New York)

  • Erik Lee Preminger - son of Gypsy Rose Lee

  • Lio London (former Cafe De Paris)

  • Plus a host of artists, Jake Dupree, Catherine D’Lish, Scarlett James, Dirty Martini, Brian Scott Bagley, Howard from Burlexe, The Burlesque Exposition, Hazel Rose and Red Velvet  Encuentro de Cabaret y Burlesque de la CDMX Mexico, Miss Baby Daisy and many more.

Thank you to all volunteers and businesses who support the day.


Highlights of the previous World Burlesque Day activities include:

  • Certificate of Contributions 2023 presented to Joesphine Baker, Di Rolle, Rachid Alexander, Crazy Horse Paris and Annabelle Mu’azu

  • An exclusive Q&A webinar with Erik Lee Preminger from LA discussing his mother, Burlesque icon Gypsy Rose Lee, sharing intimate tales from his life on the road with her as well as exclusive footage for our guests

  • Sapphira consecrating the day covered in 100 balloons with Party & Celebrate who donated the balloons

  • Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar representing Scotland attending the free TikTok Dance class attracting 323k views on Twitter

  • Major publishers supporting the day with giveaways of Gypsy’s memoir from North Atlantic Books, Badly Behaved Women by Anna-Maria Crowhurst from Welbeck, a selection of Laurence King Publishing’s Drag titles

  • Anti-bullying issues and solutions discussed in an exclusive interview with Dr Anne-Marie Quigg, author of Bullying in the Arts and editor of The Handbook of Dealing with Workplace Bullying

Owner of the event production company, Sapphira’s Showtime, who produce the annual Ibiza Burlesque Festival and World Record Events #BurlesqueAPeel, Sapphira is author of the mental health recovery story Burlesque or BustWorld Burlesque Day supports Sapphira’s vision that ‘everybody should try burlesque for their self confidence at last once in a lifetime’ following her own profound self-acceptance since first setting foot on stage in 2004. The epiphany of  escapism in this beautiful art-form came after she had been hospitalised with a one-time episode severe bipolar at age 21 and she credits burlesque as the tonic for finding herself again.

Would you like to be involved?

You can be!

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