Champagne 6, an all-women burlesque crew that aims to bring the spirit of Vegas to Denver, is run by mother-daughter duo Jasmine and Katrina Lairsmith.
“I’ve been dancing since I could walk,” says Jasmine. “I grew up with a mom that lived to dance, and I was told that I couldn’t not dance until I was eighteen, and then I could decide whether or not to step out.”
At eighteen, she moved out of the house and became a dancer.
Jasmine Lairsmith takes her place at the head of the crew.
“We have a very different mother-daughter relationship, I think, than any other I’ve seen,” Jasmine says as she and her mother lead a rehearsal before a performance at Club Vinyl. “How many daughters and mothers can say that they’re on a flier together in a leotard for a Vinyl rooftop party?”
“And [the show] is called Climax!'” Katrina says.
Katrina Lairsmith watches her dancers with a critical eye.
Because many burlesque performers offer little in the way of technical prowess, the Lairsmiths were determined to break new ground. “Initially we tried to create 'ballesque,' which is a new genre of dance, ballet and burlesque.” Katrina says. “I think that women respond well to trained professional dancers far more than girls that are just sexy.” Through ballesque, the Lairsmiths tackle contemporary topics and modern stories.
“Our last show was about how social media affects relationships, and we hit on every relationship status on Facebook,” Jasmine said.
The Lairsmiths consider their shows a success, but are also aiming to grow the act. “My goal is to get a residency in Vegas with Champagne 6; that’s the ultimate goal for me,” Katrina says. “In order to do that, we really need to capitalize in Denver, grow our following and create exactly what it is we want to take to Vegas.”
Promoting Champagne 6 has come at some costs. Jasmine lost her day job as a dance teacher after her Champagne 6 persona spread through social-media campaigns.
“Teaching kids just didn’t work out well,” she says, so she left that work and now runs Champagne 6 full-time.
The troupe recently held auditions and added four dancers, bringing its total number of performers to sixteen. With a diverse group of dancers to pull from, the Lairsmiths plan on having at least six dancers per show.
“Another reason we wanted to expand is that we wanted to add dancers of different sizes,” Katrina says. “Before, we had super-skinny mini-girls that were, you know, hot, and if we really want to represent all women, then we need to have different shapes and sizes.”
Albreanna Watson joined the crew six months ago after catching the Lairsmiths' attention with her dancing on social media. “When I’m performing,” Watson says. “I get tunnel vision. I see myself dancing, and it gives me an energy that you just can’t find anywhere else. When you find it, it’s undeniable, and you have to do it. It’s in my blood.”
Jasmine Montoya, (left) Albreanna Watson (center) and Abbey Eheart (right) take center stage.
While Watson loves Denver’s people and vibe, she wants to push the city's burlesque bookers to pay performers.
“It’s a challenge to state your worth,” Watson says. “Colorado isn’t a big dance scene; a lot of people feel that they can undercut you and have you dance for free.”
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The Lairsmiths agree that Denver has its challenges, but they say that if they want their act to build enough clout to land them a residency in Vegas, they need to stay focused on the work.
“Right now we’re really just trying to take over Denver and expand the nightlife,” Jasmine said. “We have to be Denver-famous in order to be Vegas-famous.”
Champagne 6, 10:30 p.m. Saturday, July 29, Jackson's Denver, 520 20th Street, 10:30 p.m. 303-298-7625, 21+.