An alternative to chocolates and flowers
by Larry Murray
Valentine’s Day has suffered many indignities over the years, most recently when the Vatican Council demoted St. Valentine as an official holy day. Then the supermarkets removed all the fragrance from roses. And chocolates are now allowed to be made with hydrogenated fats. And nobody sends real valentines in the mail anymore. It isn’t that Valentine’s Day has been secularized, it’s that it has become an exercise in empty traditions.
While most Christian traditions started out as pagan celebrations, Valentines Day has gone from a remembrance of a Christian saint to one which takes place at the time of February’s Lupercalia (a Roman fertility festival). In ancient times women would place their names in a bowl from which the bachelors would select the person they would spend their next year with. Without having to get married or getting slapped with blood soaked strips of dead goatskin.
That is one part of the old pagan tradition we’re happy to skip.
February is thought of as the month for the sweet and innocent to send Valentines to their true love. Now this year that’s all changed. Restaurants will still be packed, but there are now other choices.
So on the 15th and the 22nd the Berkshire based Gypsy Layne Cabaret & Company promises to deliver the real action, and to me it is all in the spirit of Lupercalia. Called the “sexy highpoint of classic burlesque entertainment” by Berkshire magazine, Gypsy Layne’s hallmark of bawdy humor, live music, dynamic dance routines, and cheeky sex appeal are prominently featured in their latest extravaganza featuring both men and women. Yes, the times have changed in more ways than one.
Centuries ago in France and England it was commonly believed that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of February is when everyone should should take time out for romance. Today, as in the past, the many snow days keep it going.
Gypsy Lane has added the spice of burlesque to love’s tease, and is perhaps the most secular interpretation of Valentine’s Day that you can enjoy here in the Berkshires.
There are two chances to catch them at the Vermont Arts Exchange in Bennington, Vermont, on Saturday, February 15, or the following week, Saturday, February 22, at Spice Dragon in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
When: Saturday, February 15, 2014. Doors open at 7 pm, show at 8 pm.
Where: Oldcastle Theatre, 331 Main St., Bennington VT
Tickets, $22 in advance (plus processing fee), $26 at the door, $15 for students, available at www.brownpapertickets.com, or call 1-800-838-3006.
When: Saturday, February 22, 2014, Doors open at 8 pm, show at 9 pm.
Where: Spice Dragon, 297 North Street, Pittsfield, MA
Tickets $20 cash at the door. Reservations encouraged at gypsylayne.com