Burlesque is back, again. The art form that features embellished costumes, musical performances, dancing, and strip teases started in the late 1800s (some sources even state that its roots go back to minstrel culture). It was a popular form of American entertainment in the early 1900s, and it’s had a few upticks since, coming back into style in the 1950s (thanks to notable performers like Gypsy Rose Lee) before it eventually fell out of fashion again.
The recent neo-burlesque movement began in the 90s and pushed the envelope for nightlife entertainment in New York. It paved the way for today’s burlesque acts that can be sex positive and inclusive, filled with irony, pop culture references, and drag queens, and at high-end venues with plush upholstery and craft cocktails. Combine this resurgence with the rise of nostalgia, social media, and high-profile performers like Dita Von Teese, and you get tons of venues with good ole’ raunchy performances that cater to a spectrum of tastes.
Now, anyone who Googles “Burlesque NYC” will see a number of red pins pop up all over the city — an abundance of venues regularly feature burlesque shows. There are different themes and crossovers to check out. Consider giving one a go!
This Bushwick venue is also a restaurant and bar that regularly hosts burlesque shows. Bushwick Bizarre has been covered by a number of NYC publications thanks to its bottomless brunches, unique absinthe cocktails, and scandalous shows. Many online commenters have called Bizarre’s strip tease performances the sexiest burlesque they have ever seen, so this is a great spot for a steamy date or a fun night to remember with close friends.
Burlesque at this Manhattan venue is quirky and fun, but it’s still a sensual variety show. The Slipper Room stems from the resurgence of burlesque from the early 90s, which empowered different kinds of performers like drag queens, and new styles of dance to be mixed into the form. The Slipper Room has a variety of shows on rotation to keep all patrons happy, all year round. Check out their packed calendar.
This is another Bushwick spot that offers Mexican food, drinks, and weekly burlesque performances. Every Wednesday evening, newbies or longtime fans get to check out a different dancer and with their own unique flair. It’s a great place to be introduced to the art, as Guadalupe Inn feels inviting and serves up some great margaritas and food.
Rather than a venue, Dumbo Burlesque is a performance troupe that features over 100 performers. They cover a range of styles for all kinds of tastes and interests when it comes to vaudeville dance, circus acts, and strip tease. They describe their shows as a “surreal, sensuous night reveling in the allure of burlesque vixens and astonishing jugglers, hoop twirlers, acrobats, aerialists, and more.” Curious fans can sign up for their mailing list to find out about upcoming shows and locations.