From Bigfoot to Burlesque: The Weirder Side of Bloomington

When I first came to IU, I never thought I would spend a Sunday afternoon standing around, talking to strippers. 

But then again, I never really thought of anything outside of the campus. 

When most people think of Bloomington, they automatically think of IU. I'm a tourguide here, and we always get some of the same comments. "This campus is beautiful!" "The buildings are so pretty." "Campus is so large." "There are just so many students!" 

But what many forget is that the campus, although big and beautiful and all that jazz, is still part of an even bigger city: Bloomington. 

As I said in my "about me" post, I am a reporter for the Indiana Daily Student, a fabulous, entirely student-run newspaper that anyone can work for, regardless of major. (Sorry, shameless self-promotion). 

This semester at the IDS I work as a reporter for region, which caters to city- and state-wide news, rather than zeroing in on our little bubble on campus. And, ever since beginning work for Region, I've come to realize just how much students can miss while they're here if they don't ever take the time to explore their surroundings. 

No, i'm not talking about going to see the light show at the art museum at 3 in the morning or staggering back from the extension as dawn breaks. I'm talking about leaving campus entirely and taking in all of the STUFF we have going on here. 

For example, strippers. 

Let me back up: to say that they're strippers is not entirely accurate, although the lovely ladies themselves used this term in passing. While scouring for stories for the paper one week, I stumbled across a website for this group of exotic dancers, called the Bloomington Burlesque Brigade

Now, how exactly I found this website is neither here nor there. We don't need to talk about it. The fact is, I did, and I was intrigued. I set off to meet the ladies, and was met with enthusiastic, friendly, tasseled women who loved what they did and were glad other people were going to have a chance to come see their upcoming show. 

As weird of a story as that may be, the thing is…events like that aren't rare. They're common place. We have a burlesque troupe in Bloomington. We also, as i found out while out on another assignment, have a Bigfoot following here in b-town, and the show, Finding Bigfoot, came down here to shoot an episode. 

We also have a committee in our local government entirely committed to dealing with deer, and the various problems and hassles they cause. 

This is a weird, weird place. And I mean that in the absolutely most endearing way, but it's true. We've got crazy, insane, ridiculous people--townies, professors, and students all included--and we've got so many interesting places to go. Wonderlab is free and open to the public to visit, and it's just a hop and a skip from campus. Down on fourth street, we've got restaurants from just about every ethnic background one could want, from thai food to Afghani food. 

That doesn't even begin to cover all the stuff we have going on, but you can find it all just by googling, people. Look up the Bloomington calendar of events. Google weird stuff--such as burlesque dancing--that you've always wanted to see, and chances are we'll have something close in Bloomington. 

But, really, I'm begging you people: LEAVE CAMPUS. 

You can stay on campus and get the college experience definitely, but you're missing out on the equally impressive Bloomington experience. 

Yes, I know it can be intimidating. There are homeless people. There are people not so well off as us students. There are alleys and cabs and--God forbid--streets without cross walks. But explore, with a friend in the daytime if you want. Go see what there is off-campus. Hell, go to a strip show. 

So, some weekend while you're here, at least once take a break from the frat-going and go to a restaurant or a burlesque show instead. It'll be worth it, trust me. 

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