True to its never-sleep tagline, NYC nightlife offerings dazzle in their diversity: Lucky denizens can prowl from bespoke cocktail bars in NYC to bass-throbbing clubs. There’s also theater, movies, ballet and opera, but if you’re looking to spice up your after-hours routine, why not go for something a little different—something, dare we say, a little naughtier? Scope out a burlesque show from our list of favorites, all of which combine wit and invention with good old-fashioned T ’n’ A .
See a burlesque show in NYC
Founded in 1999 right when “neo-burlesque” hit its stride—which made room for drag queens, experimental dancers and sideshow acts, too—this quintessential Lower East Side venue has helped shape and nurture the form since then. Slipper Room shows, presented each night of the week with acts like Chris Harder's Big Back Door and Peter Smith & Sandy Honig's The Bongo Hour, never fail to deviate from the norm and take artistic risks; if you think you know burlesque, prepare to be surprised.
This unique, funky performing arts space offers just the right combination of Bushwick grit and glittery burlesque glam. Its spacious main room more than accommodates the acts’ various props, from its house gypsy jazz ensemble’s instruments to aerialists’ hoops, ropes and silks. Catch some of the most inventive, fearless performances in town, including the monthly Blunderland Variety Show, the stripper-pole spectacular Dirty Pony and Extra Burlesque, all monthly.
Set in an elegant, chandelier-hung dining room, Duane Park’s weekend burlesque shows epitomize the best of dinner theater. As you dine on seasonal Southern-inspired plates such as Georgia cheese grits and grilled beef tenderloin with béarnaise sauce, the restaurant’s veteran performance troupes, the Plume Revue (Friday nights) and Tease ohhhh Rama (Saturday nights), take to the (tiny) stage to hang from hoops, dance on silks and tease diners, all while looking fabulous in next-to-nothing costumes.
This ever-inventive collective of super-talented burlesque performers appears all over the city and in different guises with dirty takes on King Kong, Led Zeppelin and beyond. With their sexy attitudes, lithe moves and flirty senses of humor, Wasabassco dancers don’t disappoint, and their regular appearances at Brooklyn and Manhattan venues make it easy to catch a show. Various locations (wasabassco.com)
Queer drag ensemble Switch n' Play invites you to get gussied up and take in an evening of gender-oblivious, totally subversive drag and burlesque performances bi-monthly at Park Slope's Branded Saloon. Look out for gag-worthy numbers by performers like Qualms Galore, Zoe Ziegfeld, Essence Revealed, K.James, Divina GranSparkle, Miss Malice, Nyx Nocturne, Pearl Harbor, Vigor Mortis and Mina Minou.
Featuring exposed-brick walls, romantic candlelight and sexy framed prints of gorgeous 1950s pinups, this adorable Lower East Side bar is a worthy destination any night of the week—but things reach their striptease best on Wednesday and Thursday nights when Nurse Bettie’s free burlesque shows play out on the bar’s tiny stage. Luckily, “you get what you pay for” doesn’t apply here: Bettie’s feather-and-sequin-clad dancers twist and contort with flexible ease, and hostesses Shelly Watson and Calamity Chang keep the laughs coming.
Every month, Parkside Lounge hosts the city's most delightfully nerdy striptease artists for kinky takes on Lovecraft, Star Wars, Star Trek and beyond. Join host Anja Keister and her queer-friendly crew, which often includes Magdalena Fox, BB Heart, Viktor Devonne, Lee Valone, Maxxx Pleasure and many more.
The city’s longest-running variety show, this nighttime romp takes place on Saturdays at the West Bank Cafe, an intimate nook tucked under Theater Row’s Laurie Beechman Theater. With a heady mixture of entertainment featuring contortionists, jugglers and magicians as well as more straightforward burlesque acts—all set to a funky drum-and-piano combo—the vibe here is more cheesy than sophisticated, but that’s all part of the fun.
Sweet-as-pie vixen Dottie Dynamo hosts this monthly night of delights, during which burlesque and sideshow acts take the stage and let loose. Join the wicked fun—which ends with a wild dance party—as acts like Fem Appeal, Ginger Twist and more show off their stuff.