For the most part the cabaret clubs we’re use to seeing in movies with sexy corset wearing ladies selling cigars and cigarettes, fedora wearing gentleman getting comfortable in a private booth overlooking the smoke filled room while sipping out their favorite whiskey, are long gone. Modern, minimalistic bars that serve overpriced yet cheap cocktails are what today’s youth seem to prefer. But there are still places where you could get a taste of the roaring 1920s. We’re going to take a look at London’s best cabaret and burlesque nightclubs. If you’re wondering what’s the difference between cabaret and burlesque, don’t worry you’re not alone. Cabarets mostly consist of dancing, reciting, music performances as a way of entertainment. The burlesque form of entertainment consists of parodies of well known theatre works, literary works etc. Often times these burlesque acts were quite facetious in their nature, and you can imagine why they were somewhat controversial in certain circles of society. And perhaps this is where the success of it lies as well. In the Victorian era, theatrical burlesque shows were quite popular in London. We’ve put a list together of cabaret and burlesque clubs in London that might just still have the charm and style that’s worthwhile experiencing.
In the eclectic and always exciting Camden there are many things to see and visit come nightfall. It’s situated in a 200 year old Horse Hospital at the Stables Market. It’s a unique venue in North London, with world class cabaret performers who will give visitors a glimpse into a bygone era. As expected, this places oozes with style and elegance and you won’t be able to help yourself but feel like a high class gentleman or lady out and about looking to paint the town red.
Visiting address: The Horse Hospital, Stables Market, Camden, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AH
Seeing as Princess Margaret once danced under the magnificent chandelier of the world famous Cafe de Paris, and notable guests like Frank Sinatra, Greta Garbo, and Grace Kelly, it’s no wonder why this decadent venue is so popular and famous. Dine and dance your night away in the splendid and sophisticated surroundings of the Cafe de Paris and you’ll feel like a true Hollywood star. The live cabaret shows are some of the best in town.
Visiting address: 3 Coventry Street, West End, London, W1D 6BL
The fun and eccentric costume parties that take place here will be beloved by a small group of quirky people who like to do things a little differently. It’s got just the right amount of a “sleazy” feel to it, and once combined with the classic cabaret styled rooms, it somehow becomes a venue that’s very warm and enticing. Because the slightly weird and quirky but very laid back atmosphere, this venue will certainly become a favorite spot for some.
Visiting address: 42-44 Pollard Row, London E2 6NB
The owner of The Box in Soho is a man by the name of Simon Hammerstein who was tremendously successful when he opened his club in New York. And let’s get this out of the way immediately, it’s insanely expensive. Very few people will be able to afford it, or you’ll need to to have a friend who is high up in this establishment to get in. With that said, the shows here are some of the best. They’re highly technical and it’s clear they have a high production value.
Visiting address: 11-12 Walker’s Court, London, W1F 0BD
Some might say this venue is far too small having only a capacity for 60 people. But we prefer to call it intimate. Most of the cabaret shows here are completely free. Visited by plenty of drag queens in vintage clothing who always seem to be smiling and having a good time, there’s something special and mischievous and fun about the CellarDoor. And once you visit their website, you’ll know why.
Visiting address: Zero Aldwych, London, WC2E 7DN
This is a sister club to to the Proud Cabaret Camden that also found its way onto our list. The design is very reminiscent of the art deco era, and anyone visiting will almost feel like they’re in a speakeasy during the prohibition. The shows vary from burlesque, circus acts, music and vaudeville performances. The entertainment is fun and exciting and the food keeps up with the quality that this venue oozes with.
Visiting address: 1 Mark Lane, London, EC3R 7AH
The RVT venue is adamant to stick to its eclectic policies when it comes to their shows. This is where Paul O’Grady aka Lily Savage began his career. The shows vary from Timberlina’s bingo evening to Amy Lamé doing live art on stage or puppet porn shows. The crowds here are very friendly, so whether you’re queer, straight or anything else in between, you’ll have a great time here.
Visiting address: 372 Kennington Lane, London, SE11 5HY
It’s no secret men enjoy seeing a burlesque dance here and there. Indulging yourself in the naughtier things in life is completely fine and more than welcome if you ask some. The live burlesque shows here will definitely tickle everyone’s fancy. The food that comes out of the cooking facility is simply splendid and oozes sophistication and grace with a fair touch of decadence.
Visiting address: Victoria House, 37- 63 Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1B 4DA
If you’ve ever been to the Edinburgh Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, and you liked it, than the Soho Theatre is the place to be. The cabaret shows are some of the finest co-productions in London and it attracts some of the best comedians around. Located in the heart of London, the Soho Theatre has gained a reputation that’s hard to beat.
Visiting address: 21 Dean St, London, W1D 3NE
As far as real hidden London gems go, the House of Burlesque has to be one of them. Arguably the best burlesque production regularly resides here. Located beneath the streets of the West End is a world where stockings, corsets and feathers are the order of the day. Booking a table here is a completely new experience as well. Guest receive a password and only with it can they enter the speakeasy also known as the House of Burlesque.
Visiting address: 61-65 Great Queen Street, London, WC2B 5BZ