We’ve consulted with those in the know about where to go for a fabulous night of burlesque, from cheap and cheerful showcases where you can cheer on some enthusiastic newcomers to luxe nights with bejewelled, seasoned showgirls that Champagne dreams are made of.
Where to see twirling tassels and flying feather boas
Go here for: free entry, a speakeasy atmosphere, and premium showgirls doing pop-up performances on the bar
Pop in to this CBD bar and you’re likely to see some of the most extravagantly costumed, top tier burlesque performers in town doing spots over the course of the evening as waist-coated bar tenders and excellent cocktails help to set the scene.
Go here for: a tongue in cheek take on the strip club experience
Burlesque is live on stage and on your table at this night that pays homage to Kings Cross and the origins of the art of the tease. With table service and classy cocktails, this is a good mid-range night of burlesque entertainment typically featuring half a dozen professional acts. Don’t forget to tip your dancers here – the entry price includes five “tipping dollars” to get your started. This one typically goes down on the second or third Thursday of the month.
Go here for: a cheap entry point to a fun mix amateur and polished performers
This open showcase takes over the top floor of a neighbourhood pub on the last Friday of every month. Many fledgling performers will find their feet here (as their cheering friends pack out the audience) and a few premium headliners round out the bill. This is a real community-style night out and a safe space for just ten bucks cash on the door. Get in early if you want to nab a seat or you might be cross-legged on the floor, nursing a schooner and having a hoot.
Go here for: dinner and a vaudevillian variety show
Hosted by Porcelain Alice herself, this old world style show takes over Newtown’s stalwart live performance venue once a month. With burlesque front and centre, you can also expect to see circus, aerial acts and troupes sporting heart motifs. General tickets are available, however this is best experienced as a ‘dinner and a show’ event, with a two-course meal included.
Go here for: an accessible speakeasy bar show run by artists, for artists
With a similar vibe to Burlesque in Hand, this long running variety night features a mix of sweet newbies rubbing shoulders with seasoned entertainers – you might even spot some of the country’s biggest showgirls trying out something new. Burlesque meets live music, variety and sometimes even magic(!) at this regular speakeasy. This one typically goes down on the third Thursday of the month in the cosy surrounds of Low 302 below Crown Street.
Go here for: underground speakeasy vibes, a mixed showcase and a good cocktail
This raucous night of burlesque takes over a tiny speakeasy bar in Surry Hills on the third Friday of the month. Hosted by vintage vixen Bettie Bang Bang, you can expect a seasoned headliner and a hand-picked handful of cabaret performers with some enthusiastic amateurs thrown in. Due to size, this one typically sells out. The tickets are cheap and there’s a delectable selection of cocktails and nibbles to keep punters sustained.
Go here for: a local production worthy of the international stage
This brand new monthly neo-burlesque show seeks to be Sydney’s answer to Paris’ famous Le Crazy Horse Saloon. This is a full production with a cast of five distinct performers exploring the diverse spectrum of femininity, fused with a surreal erotic tribute to the quirks of Australian culture, design and music. Again, this is a show best enjoyed with a sit down meal.
Go here for: rock'n'rolling saucy variety acts and free entry
Emboldened by the lifting of the lockout laws, Frankie’s Pizza has introduced a brand spankin’ new Wednesday night burlesque and variety show that rolls out of the more niche and nasty side of the bed. Expect live bands and badass burlesque stars, sideshows freaks and obscene beauty queens rocking out to alternative bangers that fit right in amongst the pinball machines mullets.
Go here for: live blues, high calibre burlesque and a lovely dinner
This intimate regular evening from burlesque legend Sheena Miss Demeanour brings together a live blues band with a premium line-up of burlesque stars and an Asian-fusion tapas menu. This is a petite version of the Martini Lounge, a long-running local burlesque institution, and sits at the higher end of burlesque experiences. You'll find it at Music@StreetMarket, upstairs from StreetMarket's main restaurant.