This week sees the start of the latest London Burlesque Festival. Running over the next couple of weeks, many of its shows have already sold out and its wall-to-wall marketing blitz may mean some other fabulous shows around the capital will fly under the radar during this period.
For those who are keen to see some great burlesque action around London or engage in a workshop as well as or instead of the festival, we’ve compiled a list of twelve worthy events over the next fortnight to fit a wide range of tastes and budgets. Whether you like it dark and twisted, bold and brassy or refined yet raunchy, our selection is guaranteed to whet any burly appetite.
The Double R Club
Those who like their entertainment dark and twisted should make a beeline to the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club for the latest instalment of the Double R Club. A Lynchian-inspired experience wrapped in a devilish nightmare wrapped in a variety show including burlesque and circus, the Club has won awards for its spectacular forays inspired by the recesses of the human soul.
15 May. £10. Bethnal Green Working Mens Club. More details
Boom & Bang Circus
Expect the unexpected from this weekly variety show and you won’t be disappointed. Drag, clowning, burlesque and circus antics are thrown into the blend and the resulting cocktail is enough to send any serious cabaret head spinning. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
16 May. £5-15. Hippodrome Casino. More details
Wrestling and cabaret combine for this riotous evening which sees bizarre characters doing battle in true Lucha style. This no-holds-barred event is the centrepiece of an epic circus of comedy, music and neo-burlesque helmed by the dark prince himself Benjamin Louche.
16 May, Resistance Gallery. More details
White Mischief West
A brand more associated with immense steampunk parties in the Scala is going all intimate this year. Anna The Hulagan, the winner of London Burlesque Festival’s Twisted Crown in 2012, joins a high quality cast featuring two other burlesque stars in Adriano Fettucini and Millicent Binks. In the mix will also be sword-swallower supreme Miss Behave, aerialist Jair Ramirez, tap dancing from Juggling on Tap and musical comedy from East End Cabaret.
17 May. £14.99-£44. Bush Hall More details
The successor to the long-running Wam Bam Club, Showtime Cabaret does not skimp on the burlesque with resident troupe Folly Mixtures and other guest performers besides. From soup to nuts this is a classy production and a high point of any Saturday night.
17 May. £25 general admission. Cafe de Paris. More details
Rock ‘n’ roll all night long at the Gypsy Hotel as this underground carnival takes over North London’s Boston Music Room. Between bouts of booty shaking, watch as one of the capital’s finest bump and grinders Luna Rosa adds more than a dash of sensuality to the proceedings.
17 May. From £9.99. Boston Music Room. More details
Calling itself “the UK’s greatest national burlesque competition”, Infinitease returns for its eighth round of the Behind Burlesque & After Hours Cabaret Infinitease contest. Compered by rising star Ava Iscariot, an array of burlesque talent will face off against each other in Kensington’s Archangel. From cheesecake to freakshow, there should be something here to meet any serious fan of the artform.
19 May. £7.50-£12.50. Archangel More details
The Late Night Shop
The kooky quartet made up of Apple Tart, Allota Bounce, Charlie Buckitt and Dott Cotton are nothing if not unpredictable. Despite Buckitt being in Dubai, the show goes on as these four female clowns tease the boundaries of burlesque and performance art. A special guest performance from the Miss Cairo of the Familyyy Fierce will add a dark twist to a night not short on subversive delights.
21 May. £5 RSVP and £7 On The Door. Queen of Hoxton. More details
Soho Burlesque Club
Held in the salubrious surroundings of the Hippodrome Casino, this Club should be on the map of every serious burly fan. At the helm, Hurly Burly’s Polly Rae oversees a revolving cast of top drawer talent each week while adding her own glitter to proceedings.
21 May. £5-£15. Hippodrome Casino. More details
An intriguing melange of body painting, life drawing and live performance, Squiggles and Wiggle’s Mystical Disco promises a more interactive approach to a naughty night out. DJs and face painters will be on hand to liven up the evening and fancy dress is encouraged.
24 May. £7 or £5 in costume. Cafe Cairo. More details
Wam Bam Club
The godmother of London burlesque shows features not one but two resident burlesque troupes as well as one of the more vibrant hosts around in Lady Alex. Add comedy, circus and music to the bill and this should be enough to keep any burly fan satisfied.
24 May. £35-£90. Bloomsbury Ballroom. More details
Floorwork Artistry Workshop With Luna Rosa
Take your burlesque skills to the next level with this special instructional class from Luna Rosa, one of the finest all-round performers in London and winner of the Milan Burlesque Award 2012. Beginners are welcome with the session differentiated to suit different levels.
27 May. £45. Gymbox, Bank. More details
Image: Guilherme Zuhlke O’Connor exclusively for This Is Cabaret