Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Proud Cabaret City: A Review

It's Saturday night. You're dressed in your best 1920-esque attire. You've been for your token date night dinner at Cote Brasserie, and you're now parading through the deserted streets of the City, gripping tight onto Simon's arm so you don't trip in your heels for the hundredth time that evening. You arrive. You're directed down a flight of stairs, the walls decorated with Cabaret memorabilia, and mirrors of all shapes and sizes. Eventually you find yourself at the entrance of a big, smoky room - lit only by dusky lamps and floor lighting. 

Welcome to Proud Cabaret. Located in the middle of the City, Proud Cabaret is a cabaret and burlesque experience to any punter brave enough or drunk enough to venture there. Designed primarily to be a dinner show, hosting more hen parties than you've ever seen simultaneously in one venue, but tickets are available to just come and see the show at a very reasonable £10 per person. The show-only package was the one we went for, after receiving tickets as a Christmas present, and, after reading the food reviews on TripAdvisor...and then finding out the cost of the menu, I was relieved. We arrived just before the show started at 8.15pm, grabbed some drinks and found ourselves a booth. Since we were some of the last guests there, most opting for the dinner package and arriving much earlier, we had no choice but to sit at the very back of the room where the view of the stage wasn't awful, but it definitely wasn't great. The venue clearly prides itself on its cocktails, with an extensive menu, but I was left feeling unimpressed. At an average of about £13 a cocktail, I was disappointed that my Mojito was 90% ice, feeling like I'd paid for a lot of watered-down white rum, and wishing that I'd opted for a £5 beer. 

Right on time, at 8.30pm, the show began. Miss Chastity Belt, our compere for the evening, introduced the show with a number from Cabaret the Musical - which was the perfect way to set the tone for the evening and get the audience engaged. She was a great host, and made a point of chatting to and charming the audience - perfect for the hen night heavy audience. The show proved much more slapdash and boozy than I'd anticipated. I don't think I wanted a really classy evening, but it was about the laughs and the banter substantially more than the art or the talent. Having said that, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing, just a different thing. I was pretty excited for the show, having read good reviews about it beforehand, and it was ok - but it was just ok. We started off with a performance from a belly dancer, which was good, I'm sure, but it just wasn't very entertaining - particularly for us who were located at the back of the room, unable to see the dancer from the waist down. Next we were treated to an acrobatic performance from a man hanging from/manipulating a hoop, which was actually very cool. That man had some serious flexibility. This was followed by a burlesque dancer, which was pretty cool - and there just wasn't really anything to get the audience going. Maybe it would have been more invigorating if there'd be a group of ladies, but with just one on the stage, everyone just sort of sat and watched without the excitable atmosphere I'd hoped for. 

We were looking forward to what the second act, post-interval, would bring and then disappointed to see the same 3 people just do a variation of their earlier performance. The belly dancer did a belly dance with a sword; the acrobat a slightly more fast-paced routine in his boxers, instead of fully dressed; and the burlesque dancer with some different coloured nipple tassels and glitter to blow at the audience. None of it was bad, it just felt a bit cheap to have the same acts again. I refuse to believe that there aren't enough unemployed performers in London not to be able to mix it up a bit. The host, however, was great and held the whole evening together. In fact, she really made it. From singing a song about the boy who made her latte, to a rendition of Let it Go, before finishing the evening with Total Eclipse of the Heart - she was awesome fun, really working hard to keep the pace of the evening up, and made the evening what it was. 

I had a fun night, and I'm really glad we went. It was a laugh, like nothing I've been to before, and who doesn't love a Bonnie Tyler sing-a-long? It's an event perhaps more directed towards hen parties or boozy ladies out for a birthday treat, and we were in a very significant minority as one of two couples there. I also just thought it was going to be a bit sexier. Introduced as a room of debauchery, we saw some boobs, but that was pretty much it and there wasn't much of a sexy atmosphere - more a boozy one. I would recommend it: I definitely think you should dress up in your best Gatsby gear, have plenty of drinks (before you go...or beers when you get there!) and take it for what it is. Sing, heckle and dance! But I think it's a one time thing - I won't be rushing back any time soon.


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