Philadelphia's first Burlesque Festival kicked off with risqué performances at Underground Arts Thursday night.

It was just this past November when performers and co-producers Liberty Rose and Dottie Riot decided that Philadelphia needs a burlesque festival of its own -- and that they should be the ones to make it happen.

"We did it to bring people into the city, to elevate the scene and elevate Philadelphia," said Rose, who  noted that the state of Ohio has hosted an annual burlesque festival for five years.

Thursday's event began a whole weekend of innovative performers the producers agree shouldn't be missed.

"It's a performance art that allows you to tell a wide variety of stories through body and sexual positivity, and anybody and everybody is welcome," said Riot.

Riot herself became a burlesque dancer when she lost a job, was feeling down, and decided to attend classes in New York City. "Everybody was so nurturing," she said. She recalls thinking that she finally felt like the "woman I want to be, unafraid of expressing myself."

Rose and Riot are offering the city more than performances; there's a chance to learn from the best at Saturday afternoon classes. Visit thephiladelphiaburlesquefestival.com for more info.