Burlesque is not just about naked ladies and the odd tassel – to its dedicated followers (and London sure has a hell of a lot of them) burlesque combines the perfect proportions of glamour, mischief and sauciness. Popularity of this performance art is soaring higher than Dita Von Teese’s heels, with new nights popping up all over the country at a staggering rate. To some, burlesque and cabaret shows are still seen as slightly taboo, but with such lavish performances and extravagant costumes, what’s not to love? Burlesque is risqué, decadent, a little bit naughty and damn good fun – everything that a night out should be.
Cafe de Paris
West End / Bar / Restaurant / Club / Cuisine: International
Burlesque virgins will truly have cherries popped at London Cabaret Society, held at Café de Paris every Friday. Compere, director and singer/songwriter Des O'Connor (not the Countdown one) is your flamboyant host promising to provide the flesh, not the gristle. Discover how Anna the Hulagan can achieve a state of undress using a hoop and some fire. Missy Fatale, the bombshell of all burlesque artists is a hot fire starter. Resident dance troupe, Cabaret Rouge, come to titillate the crowd with their dance moves - in fact they achieve one of the sexiest dance routines putting their clothes ON! There are no rules during the night, and whatever may happen in the society stays in the society!
Heliot Steak House
West End / Restaurant / Cuisine: Steak House
Soho Burlesque Club is one of London's best burlesque cabaret show. The evening of revelry should be at the top of any nights-out list. Hosted by and starring Miss Polly Rae with an ensemble cast of some of the UK's top burlesque performers, the revue-style night is hilarious, titillating and thrilling. There is gorgeous physicality, music and song, dance, humour and contortion all delivered with a baudy sense of fun and a skilled engagement of the risqué. It's an intimate space with tables close to the stage and room for chat, drink, and enjoyment as the spectacle literally unfolds around you. The venue also offers the opportunity to book dinner from the casino's Heliot Steakhouse.
McQueen Lounge Bar & Club
Shoreditch / Bar / Club / Cuisine: American
Known for being a bit macho (a homage to movie hardman Steve McQueen) and a hit with London's trendies, McQueen is also famous for its burlesque nights which transform this New York inspired space. Thursday nights are dedicated to the fine art of burlesque dancing. The Secret Rendevous burlesque show teaches Shoreditch how to shake its tail feathers. A dash of cabaret, some saucy antics and a few DJs help to make each show fresh and titillating; vivacious, curvaceous and just what is needed to break up the hipster crowd. Enjoy the sophistication of this vintage dance in London's East End.
The Bloomsbury Ballroom
City of London / Bar /
We all love a little bit of naughtiness in any way, shape or form. Burlesque dancing allows women to add some sultry to the naughty. For those who don't want to get up and join in, you can enjoy from the comfort of your seat at the elegant Bloomsbury Ballroom which hosts regular burlesque event nights that fill the night with feathers, glamour and glitz. Enjoy lavish burlesque shows that will tickle every fancy. Eat three courses of luxury food, feast your eyes on two bespoke stages and enjoy the after-show party. Channel your inner Dita Von-Teese.
West End / Bar / Club /
If anyone had said you'd find nipple tassels in the depths of the loo, I'd look in my own toilet with worry. At Cellar Door, the toilet is your magical gateway to the burlesque wonders below. Enjoy constant burlesque delights at this exotic venue in Aldwych. Decadent like chocolate but with less calories, Cellar Door offers women lessons in the art of tease with famed burlesque dancers. Think Moulin Rouge in the heart of merry old London. Sit down with a glass of bubbles, listen to the seductive beating drum and watch the femmes undress one layer at a time.
Soho Theatre Bar, Restaurant & Cabaret
Soho / Bar / Restaurant /
Venues don't get any more central than the Soho Theatre, which is right in the heart of creative Soho. It has long been known as one of London's most vibrant place for new theatre, comedy and cabaret. This reputation has only been consolidated with the opening of their dedicated cabaret space, Soho Downstairs. It has a large front of house café, perfect for those pre or post performance drinks, but also dedicated bars in each of their main floors. With its cutting edge performances, it's hardly surprising that the Soho Theatre welcomes over 167,000 visitors every year.
Royal Vauxhall Tavern
Vauxhall & Oval / Bar / Club /
One of the most popular alternative gay venues in London, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern has been pleasing audiences since 1863 with its eclectic mixture of cabaret, comedy, jazz, bingo and club nights. There is something for everyone every day of the week; the star attraction is undoubtedly Duckie on Saturday nights. This arty party playgroup has been hosted by Amy Lamé for more than 18 years and continues to be their most popular night of the week. They pride themselves to be an affordable alternative to the West End clubs with their many drinks offers.
Bethnal Green Working Men's Club
Bethnal Green / Bar / Club /
This East End club was said to be responsible for the recent burlesque explosion. The carpets are grotty, the bar is absurdly cheap, and the nights are wonderfully eclectic. The lineup changes frequently and the stars of the future perform here. The wonderfully titled Oh My God I Miss You is an example of the perfect burlesque party with 60s music and girls grinding on a mirrored revolving stage. Be warned, if you're not there by 9pm dressed in your vintage best, you probably won't get in.
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