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Three drag queens perform in brightly coloured dresses, one queen looks down at the audience with a saucy expression
Photograph: Supplied/Universal/Bruno Lozich

Where to see live comedy, cabaret and drag shows in Sydney, right now

We've got you covered for the roll out of IRL shows that bring you laughs, glamour and physical distancing

Written by
Alannah Maher
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Sydney's open again, and local entertainers are eager to invite you out once more to lose your inhibitions – in a physically distanced manner, of course. We’re rounding up the venues and gigs that are welcoming back guests again (with some adjustments) and putting people on stage that make us cackle and gush. If you are heading out, make sure you’re doing it safely. Always check ahead, venues have capped numbers and most require pre-bookings. If you feel at all symptomatic, stay home. 

Missing live music? Check out live gigs at the Lansdowne in Chippendale and the Soda Factory in Surry Hills.

Do you have a show coming up? Email alannah.maher@timeout.com, and don’t skip the details on how you’re keeping it physically distanced and hygienic. 

Venues and gigs to see IRL

  • Comedy
  • Surry Hills

Go here for: stand-up, storytelling, a different kind of drag royalty, and community vibes over a wine

After having its grand re-opening unceremoniously delayed, Giant Dwarf is back in action just up the road (literally) from its former Cleveland Street home, with a more comedy club-like style. Look out for old favourites on the line-up like storytelling nights Story Club and Queerstories, improv shows, and exciting new additions involving burlesque, drag kings, twisted trivia and more. 

  • Music
  • Newtown

Go here for: lush burlesque, live bands, and something completely different for dinner and a show

This trusty Newtown stalwart with vaudevillian vibes has long played host to the greats of Australian and international music. Opening the doors back up from June 4, it's back to doing what it does best, offering a classic dinner and a show experience. Not only is there top notch live music on the agenda – but the Vanguard is also welcoming back burlesque dames with multiple shows fronted by Sydney’s queen of burlesque, Porcelain Alice – including the sweet return of the Royal Heart Revue, a royal lineup for Titans of Tease, and the debut of the sensual, surreal Australiana-infused La Femme. After something more ‘out there’? Get dapper for Heaps Gay’s Sydny Kings Supper Club, or check out some top shelf comedians. Peruse the program and make a booking here. Seating is currently capped at 50 guests and hygiene measures have been stepped up to meet current guidelines.

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  • Gay and lesbian
  • Darlinghurst

Go here for: a brand new dinner and drag show on Oxford Street with flowing bevvies

Known in another life as the Midnight Shift, this Oxford Street club with its own rich history in the local queer scene is welcoming back guests. You won’t find the usual club night or sweaty dancefloor, however. Universal is putting on Premiere, an immersive dining experience every Friday and Saturday night, starring entertainment from local drag royalty including Hannah Conda, Charisma Belle and Carmen Geddit. You can pick a package with dinner and a show (and bottomless drinks, if you’re inclined) from $89-$129. Make a booking here. Read our review here.

Go here for: old-world cinematic vibes, a French feast, magic (!), and showgirls 

You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a bygone era when walking into The Magician’s Cabaret – an intimate, Parisian-inspired venue where dinner theatre with a touch of magic has been centre stage for a decade. Settle in for an evening of razzle and dazzle and escape the bounds of logic with the Cabaret La Belle Rose dinner show on Saturday nights. After a candle-lit dinner, a cast of dancers, singers and a magician will lead you through an evening of entertainment inspired by the cabarets of 19th century Paris. See showgirls dance the can-can and hear the rousing songs of Edith Piaf during this romantic encounter. Cabaret La Belle Rose is on every Saturday from 6.30-10pm (the underground Top Hat Bar bar remains open until midnight). For booking enquiries and prices contact the box office on 02 9267 4747 or tickets@themagicianscabaret.com. Social distancing and hygiene measures are in place.

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  • Bars
  • Marrickville

Go here for: live bands, acoustic sets and cosy jazz bar vibes

With its friendly vibe and funky décor featuring literally hundreds of camels, this well-established boutique venue is well regarded in the local music scene. Camelot is welcoming back punters for seated gigs along the lines of an Amy Winehouse tribute from some of Sydney’s finest jazz musicians and vocalists, Thirsty Merc alum Rai Thistlethwayte, and the David Bowie-channeling Jeff Duff. The long running and popular mid-week life drawing night, the Camelart Club, is also back on downstairs

  • Bars
  • Erskineville
  • price 1 of 4

Go here for: fabulous drag divas, dinner, drinks, and late night disco

Pop on some lippy, the Impy is back in action and its drag queens are stepping their stilettoed heels back on the bartop. From Friday to Sunday you can book into Priscilla’s restaurant for a very special Drag n’ Dine event, The Priscilla's Experience. Enjoy the lip-syncing, comedic joys the queens are legendary for over a three-course dinner. Read our review. More of a night owl? Book in for the Late Night Disco Lounge on Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm, and boogie in your chair to funky disco beats while some top divas strut their stuff on the bar – your $20 ticket also gets you a choice of bevvie on arrival. Book in for Drag n’ Dine here and Disco Lounge here.

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Craft beer
  • Chippendale
  • price 1 of 4

Go here for: stand-up comedy and a good feed to kick off the week

This curated Monday night comedy show at the Sneaky Possum is back to kick off your week with a good giggle. In the past we’ve been pretty chuffed with the stellar line-ups, names like Nick Capper, Lily Star and Pat Doherty have appeared on the bill (no marsupials we’re aware of, however). Numbers are strictly capped for the return shows, and your ticket now includes dinner and a beverage for $45. Doors at 5.30pm for a 6.30pm show. Make a booking over here.

  • Music
  • Marrickville

Go here for: an eclectic mix of soulful live music, dinner and drinks in plush surrounds

This jazzy Marrickville venue came back into action fairly early. While it's not back to its former commitment of seven nights a week of live music, it does have physically distanced gigs running from Wednesday to Sundays at the moment, capped at 50 guests, and often including a dinner special. While the program might not strictly qualify as cabaret – there’s an eclectic mix of jazz, blues, soul, heavy rock, etcetera. The place has a very plush, speakeasy feel; the vibe is welcoming and cosy and there’s an quirky grown-up vibe. Check out the gig guide over here.

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