Apparently, American burlesque is all about stripping whereas in the UK it’s more about flirty, risque teasing with a satirical twist. Well, there was some stripping (down to nipple tassels and g-strings) at this show although it was all in a light-hearted, fun and empowered-women way kind of way rather than sleazy and exploitative. But there was also so much more in this show produced by Miranda Llewellyn’s “Flirty not Dirty” team.
As the doors opened at 8pm there were already a large number of people waiting to enter this tiny, intimate upstairs club space. With a maximum capacity of 90 it was sold-out a while back.
There were a couple of larger groups (I felt sorry for the four blokes from a local food store who had been let down by the six or so female co-workers who were meant to join them), a fairly even mix between men and women and every age group (20-60 years) was represented amongst both audience and performers. It was a good natured crowd – and the performers (in amazing outfits which combined glamour and sensuality with a good dose of sparkle) happily mingled as “Beyond the sea” played in the background.
The show features a variety of professional short acts (sets were from 9pm to 930pm and then 945pm to 1030pm but you can stay to drink afterwards) but usually a selection of women from the Burlesque Academy of Dance (yes, the BAD girls) perform at least one dance during the evening. They did two last night and they were rather good (“Just one dance” with 13 girls bedecked in black and blue corsets and feathers and then 4 girls dancing to “Zou Bisou Bisou” in French maids outfits) – and it was great to see ordinary women of all sorts of shapes, sizes and ages doing their thing with confidence and lots of smiles.
Other acts included singer Liberty Bell who’s “All that jazz” was fabulous. A vision in black sequins – including long gloves – called Nina LaBelle did a perfect strip and a girl (Rachel) dressed as a maid appeared now and again to clear the sets of discarded clothing. Two young chaps called Guildford Bucket Drummers did two sets – playing an assortment of round everyday instruments a la Stomp. Mesmerising.
But my favourite act was Anna the Hooligan who somehow managed to strip and denude her hoop of feathers and then perform seductive and daring feats with a flaming hoop to a violin version of Adele’s “Rolling in the deep” and then Florence and the Machine’s “Dog days are over”. She had a whole lot of attitude.
And it was compered by Miss Jones (amazing tattoos under flesh coloured fishnets and a perky bottom peeking out from sparkly tassels with a little waistcoat to give her some authority) who sang a couple of numbers (I really liked her version of “Blurred Lines”) and a few magic/comedy turns with volunteers from the audience. She ensured that there was lots of clapping and cheering from the audience as the evening progressed.
The team do a number of private events – they are popular at hen parties and for organisations with a significant female workforce. They also do Ladies Nights which are great for team-building and confidence-building in a no-pressure celebration of girlyness.
The Burlesque cabaret shows are on the second Saturday each month (although in June it’s on Friday) at The Patch nightclub at The Cabbage Patch pub which is better known for its macho rugby crowd. Tickets are £10 in advance or £12 on the door.
The pub reserves a room downstairs for those who want to eat beforehand and there’s a large garden space at the back which was perfect on a warm, balmy evening. Improvers classes take place at the venue every Tuesday at 730pm with Michelle and there’s an introductory class to learn the basic moves the first Tuesday each month. My companion and I are tempted to have a go.