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 to 24-hour restaurants. 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
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 Williamsburg waterfront venue pushes all the right buttons with its extra va-va-voomy burlesque shows, Burlesque Below the Bridges and Wildcat Cabaret. Inside a soaring-ceilinged, exposed-brick warehouse, aerialists dangle from hoops and slither down silks, and at ground level, saucy minxes perform stripteases and the evening’s emcee keeps the action rolling with witticisms. Pro tip: Reserve the side-stage under-the-stairs seats for a sizable discount.
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. The House of Yes hosts performances almost every night of the week, but burlesque lovers should keep an eye out for the venue’s own Circus Revue as well as acts from visiting troupes such as Wasabassco’s House of Deveraux. Oh, and be sure to grab a drink at either one of the space’s two bars.
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.
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.
Produced by award-winning performance artist Dangrrr Doll and cosplay dress-up queen Stella Chuu, this playful burlesque company embraces nerdiness alongside sexiness in its smart, pop culture–referencing shows. Its monthly showcase at the Lower East Side’s Lovecraft Bar features revered artists including Hazel Honeysuckle, Qualms Galore and Tiger Bay, and during its new showcase events, performers take questions from the audience and break down the conception, choreography and execution of their acts. Aspiring burlesque dancers, bring a notebook!
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 themes like the Hotsy Totsy Tribute to HBO’s Game of Thrones and Glitter Gutter, never fail to deviate from the norm and take artistic risks; if you think you know burlesque, prepare to be surprised.
This ever-inventive collective of super-talented burlesque performers appears all over the city and in different guises ranging from 2 Desks, a live striptease talk show, to the Naked Detective, an hour-long whodunit affair that’s like a 3-D, scantily clad game of Clue. 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)