There are those of us who want to slap the next person who suggests Burlesque is “like going to a strip club, isn’t it?”, and then there are those who are curious but blissfully unaware, searching to push their boundaries with sexy and sensually enigmatic entertainment on, perhaps, a typical London summer evening? Well, there’s one place you should all go.
Sure, Soho and the Cafe de Paris, The Rah Rah club, Proud Cabaret and the Hippodrome are all iconic locations well known for their burlesque shows, but there’s been a new and growing home in London for the art form that pops up on the South Bank at the beginning of each summer, the London Wonderground, this year celebrating its 5th Birthday.
Every year the lineup grows, and so too does the reputation. The London Wonderground is the place where our city’s beating heart of cabaret performers go to showcase the most arcane and expressive roots of their art form, be it electro-cabaret with Barbu, Miss Behave’s Gameshow or our retired old favourite the Friday Night Freakshow. It’s a wonderland where there seem to be no boundaries or commercial limitations on creative expression, and yet it’s wildly commercial—because the crowds flock in their masses to see new delights every evening.
So whether you are newly curious, or a patriot of the industry this summer should find you on the south bank of the Thames absorbing a bit of class with a glass of Pimms and tickets to one or more of the great shows on offer at the London Wonderground.
Our personal favourites are gearing up to be Empress Stah and her new show, The Raunch, with its crew of cowboys, braves and laggards bringing Wild West naughtiness to headline the festival, our favourite boylesque gods who return with the hit show Briefs, and we know Miss Behave is bound to bring some of the naughtiest and most interactive burlesque acts to cameo in her Game Show. There’s always something thrilling and dark to be found at the sensational Black Cat Cabaret, and the East End Cabaret will have you cheering from your seat with Club Perverts. We also adore Miss Polly Rae’s intimate show Between the Sheets, a boudoir experience facilitated by the scintillating redhead who won London’s Cabaret award 2015 for Best Burlesque, and we’re looking forward to the alternative Edith Piaf tribute, Tiger Lillies.
Shows run from 5 May through 25 September 2016 at the London Wonderground on the South Bank. Tickets available at the box office or through http://www.londonwonderground.co.uk