There’s a sales pitch for Cigarette Girls’ new monthly show, Sunday Nightcap at the Top Hat, which started with one-off events in September and December 2018.
“Doors at 7, show at 8 and a good change you’ll be on your way home by 10,” Meg Hansen tells people who look slightly skeptical at the idea of going out on Sunday night.
The shows are somewhat targeted, not just to give the Cigarette Girls themselves more regular stage time, but to appeal toward what Hansen noticed was a big part of their demographic: people in their 30s and 40s.
“Being someone in that age range, we don’t always want to stay out until 2 a.m. on a Saturday night,” she said.
Having a regular show will allow the Girls to host more special guests, from out-of-town burlesque dancers to musicians, comedians and dancers.
There’s a lot of quirky, niche art in Missoula, Hansen said. She’d like to include as much variety as possible, with a goal of at least two or three special guests per Sunday Nightcap.
“There’s a lot of people looking for a stage to perform on,” she said. “They don’t have a lot of opportunities to reach a different audience.”
The February show features aerial silk artist Gracie Niswanger and comedian Sarah Aswell.
Previous shows have featured singer-songwriter Travis Yost, who played songs between the burlesque performances. Hansen said future shows might involve full bands.
There’s also the matter of connecting Missoula’s artists with the burlesque scene at large. Several Cigarette Girls members have traveled to perform in other cities and countries, but Hansen said their irregular performance schedule makes it hard to accommodate dancers or acts that are passing through.
“There’s a lot of awesome people that we’ve missed out on,” she said.
The Cigarette Girls have never had a steady home like the Top Hat, preforming in venues like the Monk’s Bar and Stage 112, as well as the Wilma on occasion.
Hansen is happy with the Top Hat as a burlesque venue — Logjam’s production value, even when the group just needs a playlist going over the speakers, is top-notch and easy to work with. Plus, it’s on the smaller side, an asset over the beautiful — but “huge” — Wilma.
“We do audience participation, we have dancers come off the stage,” she said. “Burlesque is supposed to be an intimate experience.”