All applicants who submit an application form for the Miss Burlesque Ireland competition must abide by all Rules & Criteria set out below:

Performers should be confident and of a high professional standard in the areas of performance, tease, audience engagement, and visual presentation of costume and styling. They must show an innate understanding of music by demonstrating musicality within their movement and timing. Performers’ routines should be tight, well rehearsed, and polished.

Order of competition sections & Scoring

The competition will be comprised of three marked sections – the Red Carpet Parade, followed by the Traditional Routines, and then finally the Unique Routines. Each section has their own scoring requirements as set out on this page. Please read these carefully as many additions and changes have been made.

All guidelines for the competition are designed to create an entertaining and engaging show for the audience while simultaneously allowing theatrical talent, intelligence, and creativity to flourish. The rules and criteria are written to encourage artistic integrity while supporting a structure for judges to select a winner. The judges are looking for a well-rounded performer who can demonstrate different styles across the three sections.

Through these three sections, we want to take the audience on a journey that displays each performer’s dynamic performance style.

Contestant introduction Section

The Red Carpet Parade is the opening section of the show. It’s your time to shine while the MC introduces you to the audience. Previously the ‘Gown Parade’ portion, this section is now judged on performance, confidence and the presentation of your character through movement, expression, gaze and gesture. Contestants are no longer required to wear an evening gown. Instead, we would love to see how glamour can be interpreted and presented. The outfit chosen should be over the top and have that intrinsic “wow” factor – whether that be vintage couture, a polished tuxedo, or avant-garde wearable art.


  • The contestant must wear an outfit that is separate to their performance costumes.
  • No props or backup dancers are permitted during the parade section. Accessories such as feather boas, stoles, parasols, etc. are acceptable.

Traditional Burlesque Performance (1880s-1960s)

The ‘Traditional’ section is about capturing the heart and essence of the period when Burlesque was at the zenith. This category seeks to represent this historical  period.

The traditional section encourages performers to research and gain an understanding of the origins of burlesque.

The rise of neo-burlesque comes from a place of nostalgia. This section is where we can uphold the historical roots of striptease, pay tribute to our stripping foremothers, and honour the rich and deep history of burlesque.

Note: We have consciously moved away from naming this category “Classic”.  We argue that “classic” burlesque within the neo-burlesque era is not defined or limited by music, costume or aesthetic, but more as a style evoking tease, with tease being the paramount objective. Classic is therefore not separate from modern neo-burlesque music, stylings, or vintage aesthetic. There are many excellent examples of expert classic burlesque performers who transcend the genre of which this category originally inhibited.

While the previous Miss Burlesque Ireland criteria were weighted specifically towards bump and grind, the new scoring structure encourages performers to look farther back and at wider styles of Burlesque’s origins. Performers will not be required to include any of the “cornerstone” moves. Bumps, grinds, and shimmies were not present in every burlesque routine prior to 1960. While these scandalous gyrating movements were synonymous with the sexual style of dance that made burlesque notorious, they are not a requirement.

We encourage performers to look at the wide range of theatrical spaces that burlesque was performed in, such as tents and small-scale performance spaces, as well as high-class theatrical stages. Performers should conduct their own research and incorporate a range of inspirations, whether pictorial or film.

Here are some styles associated with traditional striptease:

  • Bump and Grind
  • Hootchy-kootch
  • Shake dancing
  • Strut and strip (gown to garments)
  • Elegant high theatre/variety of grand-scale stage productions
  • Pantomime and pre-turn of the century parody
  • Prop stylings such as serpentine, fan dance, half/half

A note on dates of this genre:

The period from 1880s-1960s is a rough guide for the traditional era, without representing any singularly significant events at either the beginning or end of the period. The roots of burlesque grew out of the late 1800s British actress Lydia Thompson and her troupe, the British Blondes. We acknowledge that burlesque existed prior to Thompson in the form of a theatre-style show based on parodies of plays that mixed classical theatre with humorous commentary on events of the day.

The “Golden Age of Burlesque” was a time when every major city throughout the United States had multiple burlesque houses. Miss Burlesque Ireland uses the 1960s as a point of demarcation of the Golden era of burlesque in line with scholarly histories dating the “death” of American burlesque to the mid-century demise of the burlesque theatre. However, we would like to acknowledge that burlesque did not die, but rather evolved throughout these pivotal decades into modern exotic dance. We would also like to honour the many great legends of traditional burlesque who continued to perform well into the 1970s and beyond.

The music chosen by MBI contestants is to be reflective of eras that relied upon live music (such as in-house bands, live improvisational jazz, and vaudeville theatre pit orchestras). Choose music appropriate to the style of theatre and era you are emulating. If in doubt, check with your Producer.


  • Routine must run for a minimum of 3 mins and a maximum of 5 mins.
  • The traditional burlesque performance must evoke a sense of the past glory of burlesque from a time when it was at the peak of its popularity.
  • Routine, costume, music, and all stylings must reflect a historical understanding of the origins of Burlesque. We argue that these dates fit roughly within the century 1880-1960 (however, performances can be inspired by burlesque legends and icons from the 1960s and 70s).
  • Contestants must use music that reflects the era in which their traditional act has been inspired eg: modern Big Band Swing tracks are allowed, however, not remixed versions. If in doubt check with your Producer.
  • Judges will be looking at the quality of costuming and overall visual aesthetic.
  • Small props are permitted as long as approved by producer in the lead up to show. Set up is permitted.
  • An element of tease is required in the act.
  • Stagehand assistance and audience interaction is permitted.
  • NO MESS – Due to time constraints and venue regulations there is to be no mess that requires clean up after the routine. This refers to the use of glitter, confetti, mylar, streamers and liquids.
  • While we acknowledge the great tradition of chorus girls and troupes – due to the confines of the competition and limits on timing and backstage access we are limiting this section to solo performance. Backup dancers/dance partners/walk-ons are not permitted during this section.

Performers will be judged on Engagement – Use of Stage, Audience Connection, Styling – Costuming, Visual Presentation, Movement, Music & Musicality as well as Tease & Performance.


In the immortal words of Gypsy Rose Lee, “You gotta get a gimmick!” Well, gimmick or no, this is the performers’ chance to show the audience their modern interpretation of burlesque. We want performers to consider how striptease can be innovative to burlesque as an art form. We want to see a well-developed character and demonstrate an understanding about their own unique persona.

Overall, we want this to be entertaining. This section can be conceptual, classic, narrative or performance art – we want the performers to be limited only by their own imaginations. Above all, we want to see what each performer can do. We want to see their biggest and best routine. Performers should make us think; make us scream; make us feel something through their performance! We want the performers to be adding to the knowledge pool of burlesque, not recreating things that have been done before.

In this section, contestants can perform any style or genre of burlesque – be that conceptual, performance art, narrative storytelling, classic, circus, vaudeville – as long as it involves an element of striptease.


  • Routine must run for a minimum of 4 mins and a maximum of 5 mins.
  • There are no rules in regard to costuming, music, or styling.
  • Major props are permitted but must not take any more than 2 mins to set up or remove. Major props are to be discussed with the Producer and they will make the executive decision dependent on venue or extenuating circumstances.
  • Weighted stages and aerial rigging are permitted for this show if the venue allows. It is up to the contestant to cover the cost of set up & rigging. Rigging must be prepared prior to the event to allow for a speedy set up.  Riggers must be industry certified.
  • Backup dancers are permitted for this section.
  • Stagehand assistance and audience interaction is permitted.

Performers will be judged on Individuality, Character & Performance, Engagement – Use of Stage, Audience Connection, Styling – Costuming, Visual Presentation, Tease, Movement & Musicality.


  1. Xpoles are not permitted in this competition.
  2. Please ensure costume and styling are separate looks for each show.
  3. NO MESS – Due to time constraints and venue regulations there is to be no mess that requires clean up after the routines. This refers to the use of glitter, confetti, mylar, streamers, and liquids.
  4. Animals are not allowed in any Miss Burlesque Ireland showcase.

Statement on appropriate behaviour

Miss Burlesque/Mr Boylesque Ireland is committed to providing a platform to build a positive and supportive environment for the Irish burlesque community. We aim to support a thriving and diverse space in which performers both new and old can develop the artform and foster relationships with one another. All Finalists are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times.

MBI aims to uphold an inclusive and positive theatrical space that encourages body, race, ethnicity and political diversity.


Bullying is defined as, “an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm.”

Bullying can occur in both physical and online spaces. This behaviour does not promote a positive, inclusive or supportive community environment and is deemed unacceptable behaviour within the MBI competition. Any competitor aiming to negatively influence or intimidate another competitor or member of the MBI production team will be found to be in violation of the terms and conditions of the entry of the competition and will be asked to leave the MBI and will be barred from entering in concurrent years.

Cultural Appropriation

Cultural Appropriation is defined as, “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing understanding or respect to this culture.” Cultural appropriation occurs when “members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.”

Cultural appropriation has occurred with great frequency throughout the history of burlesque, and we believe that the continuation of this causes harm and perpetuates hurt.

Miss Burlesque Ireland has a strict policy against accepting acts and performers that depict cultural appropriation on the stage. If a performer is found to be creating an act that seeks to depict acts that marginalise any culture that is not their own, they will be barred from entering the competition in concurrent years.