Most of you know that I call the lovely Midwestern metropolis known as Milwaukee, Wisconsin home. I could totally talk about my favorite places in Milwaukee forever, so today I’m limiting it to personal faves and especially spots that I think other vintage lovers need to check out! The vintage/pinup scene in Milwaukee isn’t as expansive as in Los Angeles or other larger cities, but there’s still plenty of retro fun to be had. One of my favorite things about the city is how much of the past lives on today; even as things are growing and changing, people really put the effort into preserving the past. A lot of things that might seem “retro” to other people are just how we roll in Milwaukee.
At this time last week, I put up my “gone bachelorette-ing” holder post. On Friday morning, I hopped a plane for Minneapolis, where I convened with a bunch of cool ladies (some I knew, and some I didn’t), drove up to Two Harbors, and spent the weekend having shenanigans in a cabin on Lake Superior. And you know what? It was damn good for the soul.
Over the past few years I’ve started traveling more for work, attending conferences across the country. While you can definitely have a great conference in any city, it’s hard to deny that there’s a little extra buzz when you’re going to a place you’d happily travel to on your own…needless to say, I was pretty pumped about heading to a conference at Disney World.
My family went to Disney World regularly when I was growing up, so it’s always had a special place in my heart. After a long absence, I visited again for a few days in 2014, but we didn’t stay on the property…this definitely felt like my first proper return to the happiest place on Earth!
It’s the rare would-be pinup girl who doesn’t idolize Dita Von Teese. The last time she came through Chicago on tour, I couldn’t find anyone to go with me and missed it. But I’m older and bolder than I was then, so when I heard that her new The Art of the Teese tour would be kicking off in Chicago, I got myself a ticket.
Before the Show
To save the stress of trying to get home after a late show, I got a hotel room near the venue…and suddenly, it became a mini-vacation! Anytime I stay in a hotel, things just feel extra fab. I know a lot of people get tired of them over time, but I’m still in the “super fun” camp! So I hopped a bus down to Chicago, checked into the hotel, and headed off for my first adventure of the night: meeting the lovely Emily!
I kind of feel like I’ve known Emily forever; she was one of the first friends I made on Instagram, and it was awesome to finally get to meet in person! The acclaimed Chicago tiki bar, Three Dots and a Dash, just happened to be around the corner from my hotel…though I would have traveled much farther to experience this bar I’ve heard so much about! We had a lot of fun grabbing dinner and drinks (stay tuned for a full review!) and even found time to sneak back to the hotel for cookie sundaes. I’m sure no one is surprised that she’s an absolute peach & we had a grand ol’ time – I’m doing my best to convince her to come up to visit me next!
But as wonderful as meeting new/old friends is, the carousing and cookie-eating couldn’t last forever – I had to get changed to go see **DITA**.
The Art of the Teese
I won’t make you wait: the show is incredible. It’s selling out all over, so if you’ve been waffling about getting tickets, get on that. Unfortunately, photos were not allowed during the show, so I don’t have any pics to share, but it was so much better to experience it without any distractions.
This was my first time seeing a show at House of Blues, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect; I’d purchased “GA Pit” tickets, but when I printed the ticket, it had a seat number on it. It was hard to imagine seeing a burlesque show standing in a pit, but…that’s what happened. I’m a cranky old person who doesn’t like standing for a long time, so I didn’t love that, but that con was definitely outweighed by the pro: I was able to get close. Like, third back from the barrier close.
The Art of the Teese tour is so fun and so sexy. I woke up in the morning with my throat as sore as after a rock concert; we were all screaming our heads off and having an amazing time. Dita is so perfect in person. I just…couldn’t even. She’s so small and so, so beautiful. Completely captivating. And the sets and costumes are, of course, sparkly, impeccable, and glorious.
I knew that various special guests would be appearing on the tour, but I didn’t research everyone who was going to be in Chicago. The surprises ended up being so much fun! I had heard Violet Chachki would be performing, but I completely lost my shit when the emcee introduced Dirty Martini. I really appreciated that even within a fairly limited cast list, the revue showcased dancers of different races, ages and sizes.
It feels weird to even try to review the show; it was a sparkling hurricane of sexy fun…literally, since the audience ended up blasted with shiny pink and silver confetti at the end of the night. I was completely enraptured; I’ve always been a big fan of burlesque, but watching one of Dita’s performances on Youtube just can’t compare to seeing her in the flesh…the pale, supple, smooth flesh…
The Journey Home
I hobbled my way back to the hotel on my poor aching feet and sore knees and promptly crashed. I’d planned to take advantage of the complimentary breakfast at the hotel…but, yeah, getting dressed and downstairs before 10 definitely wasn’t happening. Instead, I stopped by Firecakes, a rad artisan doughnut shop that was also just around the corner (I seriously picked the best located hotel, you guys), for a hot chocolate (with a HANDMADE MARSHMALLOW) and a doughnut to nibble on before I caught a ride to the bus station.
Unfortunately, the return trip became just a bit of a hot mess, but I’m not going to let that dampen the sparkle of those glamorous hours I got to spend in Dita’s universe.
As I’m sure many of you can understand, Disney has always been my happy place. I used to go to Disney World regularly as a child, but even when it had been years, thinking about the most magical place on Earth can warm my heart. I love seeing photos from all the lucky APs on my Instagram feed, reading up on new construction, and re-watching travel shows (the Samantha Brown Christmas at Disney special is still pretty great).
I’ve been feeling like I could use a little magic in my life, so let’s set aside our woes and worries, just for a minute or two.
Let’s go to Disneyland.
Thanks for the invite, Walt! We’d love to come.
Okay, so I didn’t wear a flower in my hair while I was there (I tried REALLY hard to pack light for once!), but I did have a lovely time on my first visit to San Francisco this past week!
It was a work trip, so I didn’t get to do all the tourist-y things that I wanted to, but I did still have a lot of fun exploring what I could of the city!
I definitely wasn’t leaving without making it out to Smuggler’s Cove, where I tried the Kona Cocktail, an exclusive unpublished Don the Beachcomber recipe, which was very…
Wait, where’d it go?? It was definitely tasty while it lasted 😉
I ate other food.
I was staying in Japantown and took advantage of the extra-deep Japanese-style soaker tub in my room. I’m just too tall to comfortably take a relaxing bath in a standard tub, so this was real nice. And I finally got to take that classic Instagram feet-in-the-tub shot.
I saw beautiful buildings…
And sea lions…
And….other marine wildlife…..
I would definitely love to go back to explore the city more! I didn’t get to do any vintage shopping, and I only really saw major icons like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz from a distance. I had hoped I’d have time to go to the Walt Disney Family Museum, but it just wasn’t in the cards. I’m really happy that I chose to play hooky from my last session to go check out Fisherman’s Wharf. Totally worth it! (Also I totally can’t see what I’m taking pictures of when the sun is out and my shades are on…hello, phantom finger!)
Thanks for having me, San Francisco! Hopefully I’ll see you again soon! Maybe next time I’ll bring a buddy along to take some proper pics.