Words by Susan Perry
As soon as I heard about The Carnival I could not wait to go. Burlesque opera divas, classical virtuosos and pole dancing all in a cabaret club and all right here in the City. My only hesitation was an uneasy feeling that it might turn out to be something from the more lurid end of the cabaret scene.
I felt the need for a male perspective, so rustled up a suitably testosterone-fuelled companion. You’d be surprised by the level of interest which can be generated by liberal use of the phrase “burlesque contortionists”.
As with so many places in the City, it was discovered by getting a cab to roughly the right location then walking up and down the street aimlessly, wondering if you are in the right place. As it turned out it was well worth the effort.
Any fear that the whole experience might have been rather low-rent vanished the second we walked down the stairs. It felt like a Paris jazz club – intimate, smouldering and impossibly cool.
The origins of burlesque are in a form of parody in which opera or classical music is adapted theatrically to create a risqué style which contrasts directly with its subject matter. The Carnival taps into the surreality of the form whilst retaining the atmosphere of slow-burning erotica for which it has become better known.
International theatre producer and composer Chloé Charody uses an innovative style of presentation which fuses classical music with show stopping contortion and aerial artistry.
Whether you’re looking for music, sensuality or just something a bit different, The Carnival will transport you to another world. A deliciously louche world, where circus is seductive and the musicians breathe fire.
The Carnival, Thursdays from 7.30pm at Proud Cabaret, No.1 Mark Lane, City of London EC3R 7AH.
Tickets: show £10 / show + supper club (3 courses) £49