The edgier London revues prove that variety can always go further underground, but it can go more mainstream, too. With bona fide West End performers and plenty of glamour from resident drag dance troupe The Globe Girls, Cabaret Floridita a great destination for the party-minded to dance the night away after dazzling acts from established UK vaudevillians.
Globestar Management director Neil Armishaw compères the evening with a light touch, egging the crowd on briefly before introducing guests like burlesque dancer Sophia St. Villier and acrobalancer Stephen Williams, whose precise athletic skills and smooth B-boy twirls combine physical prowess and smooth, dapper charm. Niamh, another acrobat, contributes an ambitious singing-acrobalancing number, but her hesitant performance leaves it stifled and unengaging.
Fresh from the West End stages, three singers fill out the bill with rich interpretations of chart-topping tunes by Adele or Florence and the Machine, as well as older fare like Al Green and Tina Turner. Rachael Wooding (Jersey Boys), Andrew Derbyshire (We Will Rock You) and Charlotte Riby (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) dance, duet with each other and even provide live vocals during the DJ sets. With such pristine voices in the programme, though, it’s a pity to see a piano and a drum kit gathering dust onstage throughout the evening. Floridita welcomes live music from the likes of Alex Mendham and Trio Manouche on other evenings, but not on Wednesdays.
While the clientele is on the more dressed-up side of the spectrum, the prevailing mood of the evening is one of informality. Acts alternate between the stage (the same one that welcomed the Triple Crown showcase of the World Burlesque Games) and the dance floor, with artists and audience mingling at times. That said, glamour is definitely the theme of the show, as evidenced not only by the acts, but by gimmicks like a business card lucky draw giving a bottle of Piper-Heidsieck champagne to the winner, who happened to be me. Entirely by chance, I’m sure (you should see what This Is Cabaret business cards look like).
The undisputable stars of the evening are the Globe Girls. With two toy boy hunks as backing dancers, the drag trio is a powerhouse of vibrant moves and cheeky physical comedy as they tease each other and the public in seven lively numbers. Jumps, splits and costume changes follow in quick succession as they lip-synch to themed medleys of songs by Beyoncé, the Pussycat Dolls, Chicago and Burlesque (the Christina Aguilera movie). The fun factor is always high when these girls are on.
Standing patrons can watch the show from the bar free of charge, but proximity to the performers is not the only treat in store for dining parties at the tables. Rich in flavour, the rib-eye steak is both tender and generous, while the subtle combination of scallops with samphire makes an excellent entrée. The menu is inspired by Latin American cuisine, and I can confirm that traditional sides like fried cassava, ground beef pastries and black beans taste very much like they do in Brazil.
Vintage enthusiasts and sideshow variety fans will probably not find the weekly event to their taste. But if you’re looking for dinner, live entertainment and dancing for your night out, you’ll find it all here under one roof. Cabaret Floridita is a pop cabaret knees-up to dance, be merry and indulge in your glittery fantasies, and a welcome addition to the diversity of Soho nightlife.
Cabaret Floridita. Hosted by Neil Armishaw. Floridita, London W1F 0TN. Wednesdays, 20:00. Free (tables reserved for dining, £18.50-55). www.floriditalondon.com