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September 15, 2008 | by  | in Features |
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Real. Hot. Bitches. Word!

The Real Hot Bitches are a Wellington dance troupe who get together once a week in Lyall Bay to dance to 80s music. But they’re also so, so, so much more. They wear lycra g-strings with gay abandon, they have a collective approach to choreography, they’ve broken the world record for the largest synchronized dance routine (2843 people danced to Bon Jovi’s ‘Shot through the Heart’ in February 2007). They’ve even trademarked their name, breeding chapters in Melbourne, London and Japan!

Trying to prepare for an interview with the Bitches behind the Real Hot Bitches (Angela Meyer and Rosie Roberts) is a tad intimidating. After all, these sexilicious women took every girl’s secret dirty habit (dancing around in our bedrooms in layers of lycra whilst singing ‘Living on a Prayer’ into our hairbrushes) and thrust it onto stages throughout Wellington, New Zealand and the world. I figure that I don’t even need to prepare questions, as these ladies won’t be shy. I was correct.

Only when we’re dancing do we feel this free!

It started with a dream. Angela Meyer returned from the UK a dance fan, but frustrated, not because she didn’t know how to dance (she didn’t), but because any beginner dance class required a medium level of training. So with no outlet for their moves, and finding their living rooms too small, Rosie and Angela set up The Real Hot Bitches as a Saturday dance club.

They were soon amazed at how many people showed up. They put it down to the fact that participants started to love their new found confidence, which spurned further ‘empowerment’ and ‘excitement’. Then they started enjoying it so much they thought they’d do a show in the DYSO festival in 2006 – In Bed with the Bitches. More gigs and shows followed.

No dance stone left unturned

“We don’t dance in time but we’re still a great spectacle,” says Angela. Each week a different bitch will take the reins and teach a routine to the group. Most routines engage in what I like to call ‘literal dancing’ – i.e. acting out with your hands and body the lyrics of the song. Air guitar is a staple.

Recently, the Bitches performed to a packed crowd at Wellington hipster nightspot The Mighty Mighty. I was there, and the Bitches went down a treat. They felt good too. Angela: “Even if there are lots of pretty and skinny ladies there, we’re sexier because we’re so confident. We feel like the hottest people there.” Rosie: “You cannot compete with a lycra leotard. Designer gear just doesn’t turn as many heads!” I can’t help but join in: “You cut through the pretension of The Mighty Mighty!”

“I just can’t wait to strut around at Mighty in my leotard”Normally (and yes this is a terrible habit) I tend to switch off when I hear non-identified feminists start to talk about empowerment as it’s usually followed by the words ‘pole-dancing’, ‘stripping’ or ‘Brazilian wax’. But there’s no doubt about it – the Bitches are empowering. Probably because they haven’t been sold on it through a fashion label, a brand of tampon or Cosmopolitan magazine. They’ve found it themselves, together, as a group, through turning their back on all that other crap.

Angela: “The culture within the group is positive, and so strong.” Rosie: “When we went to dance at the May Day Cup in Palmerston North we had this huge dressing room but instead of rehearsing, we just spent the whole time looking at ourselves in the mirror and saying to each other ‘fuck you look hot in that leotard’.” They celebrate their bodies and their sexiness for themselves rather than for men. Miraculously, through co-opting the symbols of 80s pop icons – leotards, lycra, leg warmers and g-strings, the Bitches have created a healthy female-defined sexuality.

They also take the piss out of the stripper world by performing all their moves, but just not quite as well. In Rosie’s words: “By sending that up, you take away from the alleged ‘sexiness’ of it”. The sexually available objectified woman no longer becomes a dangerous or powerful image because it’s subverted and played with. But in a more obvious way than women who wear ‘porn star’ t-shirts (which I would argue just accepts male parameters for female sexuality)

The name of the group also fits their subversive strategy. Angela says, “We’re reclaiming the word bitch from its negative connotations.” So the word bitch is no longer a hurtful derogatory name for a strong woman, rather cool slang for a confident sexy WO-MAN. It’s a common third wave feminist strategy – pioneered when Riot Grrrl feminists scrawled ‘cunt’ and ‘slut’ on their chests in an effort to re-claim these words and remove them as sites of masculine power. And it seems to be working. Even Rosie’s Grandma now forthrightly enquires “How are the Bitches, dear?”

“I guess that’s where the feminist angle comes in – because it’s real bodies”
Oddly, this is the only time in our hour and a half long coffee that body shape comes up. It’s so not even an issue. The Bitches have moved beyond the point where we have to criticise every media image because of its unrealistic portrayal of women (not that that isn’t a valuable and important exercise). Instead they’re engaged in the much more powerful act of getting out there and SHOWING real bodies.

Release your inner Real Hot Bitch!
The Real Hot Bitches are immensely popular. People get it – “the audiences are so supportive, they are just sitting there wanting us to be ridiculous.” At the last show the audience dressed up in 80s gear and held up placards supporting their favourite Bitch. In a way their popularity is the coolest thing. Because they’re truly feminist. The group has set off overseas groups in Melbourne, London and Tokyo, with The Age and Triple J doing features on them. “We’ve trademarked the name because although we want people to start other groups they must have the right ethos – the key criteria being it can’t be a serious thing.”

“The underlying objective is to have fun”. Fun + feminism = my kind of empowerment. The Bitches are a joy to behold because they’re having fun. And that, ladies is sexy.

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About the Author ()

Well hello there. Eleanor was the Theatre Editor in 2007, now she writes the Women's Column and just generally minces about the Salient office. Eleanor is currently an Honours student in Theatre (with a touch of gender). She also has a BCA in Marketing but she tries to keep that on the d-low (embarrassing, because she loves academic integrity and also perpetuating the myth that she's a tad bohemian). If you've got a gender agenda, woo her by taking her a BYO Malaysian. She lies, if you show any interest at all she'll probably tackle you in the street and force you to write a column.

Comments (2)

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  1. Silver says:

    Wow. I hope it works. I like the idea of women being in power.

  2. Alisa Dey says:

    Hi

    We have just read your article on the Real Hot Bitches and we want to book them for our conference – do you please, please have any contact details for them (as we have tried with no luck!!!)

    Cheers for that

    Alisa

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