London is an artist’s paradise filled with inclusive, rebellious, and out-of-the-box acts like burlesque. It is the home to the most extravagant forms of artistic expressions, led by cabaret acts, alongside burlesque in London staples like CellarDoor and Gin House Burlesque.
Many people confuse burlesque with other live comedic, satire, and parody performances, including cabaret. In its raw form, a burlesque is a theatrical act meant to insight laughter by making fun of severe real-life aspects or ridiculing the essence of serious topics.
Today, the true form of burlesque is masked in innovative and creative forms of art, but it can be divided into cabaret, traditional burlesque, and striptease. Greece is said to be the origin of burlesque, and cabaret has its roots in France. Cabaret is a mostly theatrical performance done in pubs and clubs, and unlike burlesque, it does not need to follow a story. Striptease is more prevalent in the US and does not need a story since the main action revolves around undressing.
You will want to visit these top-notch burlesque venues in London for the purely artistic at heart and with an open mind. Some have weekly burlesque shows, while other venues mostly host cabaret and seasonal burlesque performances.
Burlesque and Cabaret Show Venues in London
1. Gin House Burlesque
- Address: The Kings Head Members Club, 257 Kingsland Road, London E2 8AS
- Phone: N/A
- Known for: Live burlesque twice a month from world-famous performers
From snake charmers to live music, fire eaters, and magicians, this prohibition era-themed venue brings old London and New Orleans energy to the 21st Century. Gin House Burlesque is hosted by Miss Betsy Rose, Missy Fatale, and Jolie Papillon, popular burlesque artists.
The vintage scene combines golden-era jazz music from the 1930s. It is an affair that will take you through four building floors where you will interact with different performers along the way. It is a speakeasy location with a dark exterior at the King’s Head Member’s Club.
Join the extravagant female dancers dressed in white artistic clothing and sometimes something reddish for more delight. The show tickets start from £55 but can go up to £65. Wear your finest vintage threads as the dress code encourages vintage hats as well as tail coats; no smart modern casual clothing is allowed.
The show begins at 8:30 pm on select dates (approximately twice every month – check dates on their website) and goes on for about four hours. Keep in mind that there is no food in the venue, but there is gin from the minute you walk in till you leave.
2. The London Cabaret Club
- Address: Victoria House 5 Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1A 2TA
- Phone: 020 7242 0002
- Known for: Sophisticated fine-dining and British heritage-themed live entertainment
The London Cabaret Club is mainly dedicated to cabaret shows, as the name suggests. It is, however, home to a five-star venue that hosts innovative artistic shows. Founded by Artistic Director Doni Fierro in 2013, the Cabaret Club has grown to be the venue for fine dining and where you go to see the best of British culture in terms of music and entertainment.
Tickets are sold in four different packages: Silver from £50 per person, Gold from £90, Diamond from £125, and Royal Diamond from £165 per person. The most exclusive tickets include a VIP area for viewing the show, cocktails themed to the show, a bottle of Moet & Chandon (half), and a four-course meal from the Executive Michelin Star chef Richard Galli. His best selections include the Sevruga caviar and the black truffle.
London Cabaret Club shares the British heritage in iconic performances from London’s best performers. The historic 1920s Victoria House is where the venue is situated, which adds to the rich historical culture of the club.
The club is open all week apart from Sunday and features different acts depending on the calendar schedule. Some shows celebrate the best of British pop music, other shows are cabaret with extravagant performers (some from Brazil), and there are also Halloween and Christmas specials.
Like most burlesque venues, you are encouraged to dress up. You won’t be allowed into the venue in shorts, sportswear, or any form of clothes that do not align with the set themes.
- Address: Zero Aldwych, London, WC2R 0HS
- Phone: 020 7240 8848
- Known for: Free weekday shows
CellarDoor borrows its charm from Berlin’s 1930s scene and New Orleans’ 1940s craze. It is famous for its burlesque, cabaret, and free shows from Monday to Friday. Remember that you will have to pay a small ticket fee on the weekends.
Weekly shows on the venue include cabaret favourites like See You Next Tuesday show with stars; Joe Morose, Dusty Limits, and Des O’Çonnor. CellarDoor serves handcrafted cocktails in the basement Victorian-era hideout under Aldwych. There are also drag queen shows at the venue every Monday from 4 pm to 7 pm.
4. House of Burlesque
- Address: 61 – 65, Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5BZ
- Email: [email protected]
- Known for: largest burlesque production house in London
House of Burlesque is not just a venue but a collective of artistically minded performers. Its mission is to advocate for celebrating beauty and brains in all shapes, sizes, and colours. They believe that all people should be celebrated for their unique power, and they do it through rebellious glamour and unapologetic innovation in the burlesque space.
Led by Temoest Rose, an international showgirl, the production house has been featured in various news outlets from MTV to BBC, Stylist magazine, Time Out, The Stage, and Channel 4. Time Out states, ‘The Show is guaranteed to blow your mind; it is like Moulin Rouge on acid.’
The HOB is also known for its academy that teaches burlesque to both newcomers and experienced performers. Join their class every Saturday at 5 pm to partake in the feathery and stockings affair in a decadent atmosphere amongst world-class performers.
5. Phoenix Arts Club
- Address: 1 Phoenix Street, London, WC2H 8BU
- Phone: 207 836 1077
- Known for: One of the remaining independent burlesque and art houses in West End London.
Phoenix Arts Club dates back to the 1980s, based on the same Phoenix Theatre building of old age. It is the same venue where classic performances have been done, including the Harry Potter & the cursed Child rehearsals done back in 2016.
The venue hosts various comedic performances, cabaret shows and burlesque shows. They offer a membership program that grants you access to various events. The packages are used to promote this one-of-a-kind independent house in London; they include:
- £300 Annual Show & Social – Late night entry, a bottle of prosecco during your birthday, free entry to house shows, priority access to tickets, access to discounted and exclusive products, and access to partner clubs.
- £200 Annual Show & Social – Late night entry, a bottle of prosecco during your birthday, free entry to house shows, priority access to tickets, and access to partner clubs.
- £100 Annual Late-night – Late-night entry and a bottle of prosecco during your birthday.
- £2500 Lifetime – Late night entry, a bottle of prosecco during your birthday, free entry to house shows, priority access to tickets, access to discounted and exclusive products, and access to partner clubs. It also features a customized named plaque on one of the chairs.
6. Royal Vauxhall Tavern
- Address: 372 Kennington Lan, London SE 11 5HY
- Phone: N/A
- Known for: Hosts various burlesque performers and houses in London
The Royal Vauxhall is a tavern of many characters. It hosts some of the best London innovative and creative performances from various groups, including burlesque crews, drag shows, cabaret acts, comedic sketches, and much more. If you are looking forward to meeting what London’s great burlesque performers have to offer, then checking on the RVT calendar should be one of your first searches.
Royal Vauxhall is the host of international houses, including the House of Burlesque crew with its lineup of showgirls and satirical performers. It is considered LGBTQ+ heaven, in a hall reminiscent of a ballet show venue. RVT was granted Grade II listed status in 2015 for being crucial to LGBTQ+ history. The venue’s story goes back to the 1970s with impressive performances from drag queens and kings like Lily Savage.
7. Soho Theatre
- Address: 21 Dean Street Soho, London W1D 3NE
- Phone: 207 7478 0100
- Known for: New and creative burlesque shows and other theatrical performances
Soho Theatre is nothing short of the epitome of theatre, innovative, and creative performances in London. The venue has helped launch several artists’ careers in the theatre industry, film, TV, and even radio.
It is a centre for theatre performances like burlesque, cabaret, and comedy with a focus on alternative comedy and satirical acts. The influence of the Soho Theatre thoroughly marks the British culture landscape. It is a recommended venue for those looking to see something new and fresh in the creative space in London.
8. Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club
- Address: 42-46 Pollard Row, London E2 6NB
- Phone: 020 7739 7170
- Known for: retro and fancy burlesque parties
The award-winning venue in Pollard Row is known for hosting hip burlesque parties with themes that take advantage of the 1960s dancefloor in the building. The upbeat atmosphere is full of artistic and mischievous characters.
One of the leading regular acts is the SEXQUISITE, which includes queer performances and sex worker celebrations. It features cheeky comedy, great burlesque acts, and stigma-defying performances.
9. Crazy Coqs
- Address: 20 Sherwood Street, London, W1F 7ED
- Phone: 020 7734 4888
- Known for: Old fashioned burlesque performances and crowd
Crazy Coqs is a little bit old-fashioned than you would expect from a burlesque venue. It is not rowdy or crowded like Royal Vauxhall Tavern or other new-generation venues. If you want a relaxed atmosphere amidst inclusive old-timers, then Crazy Coqs is the closest bet. It features a small stage and a seating of up to 40 guests.
There is no food, but you can feast on the sizeable assortment of snacks. Cocktails, champagne, spirits, and wine are available in plenty. Shows that grace this intimate venue includes theatric performances, burlesque acts, comedy, magic shows, cabaret shows, music, dance performances, and literary events.
10. Proud Cabaret
- Address: Proud Embankment, 8 Victoria Embankment, London WC2R 2AB, United Kingdom
- Email: [email protected]
- Known for: Burlesque brunch every Saturday in Proud City
“Raunchy extravaganza of burlesque and circus” – The Sun Magazine on the experience in Proud Cabaret. Proud cabaret has three venues: Embankment, Brighton, and Proud Cabaret City. It is a great venue with beautiful décor, colourful design, and decently lit interiors. The red-carpet entrance takes you through a flight of stairs that land you in a surreal environment that stars impeccable Stars shows.
The venue is Proud City is known for hosting burlesque brunches every Saturday. The Tickets start from £40.50 and feature cabaret and burlesque performances. Take your bottomless booze as you partake in the unlimited brunch and dancing affair. The brunch includes one hour of bottomless house cocktails and a two-course brunch from 11:30 am.
Also Read: Best Drag Brunches in London
When looking for the best burlesque shows in London, look at the best regions for the creative type. These include Soho and Covent Garden, which house the biggest LGBTQ + communities and the most innovative art forms ever to grace London’s gates.