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London’s cabaret scene is one of the most thriving and diverse in the world, with new artists and shows constantly emerging. And it’s not just all happening at the weekend. Each night of the week there’s always something going on, catering to all tastes. Most of which is free entry or significantly less than a theatre ticket – perfect for these ‘times of austerity’ (and that way you have more to spend on shots). This week Jason Reid guides you through a selection of the best ongoing weeknight shows out there, from drag kings to drag legends via queer variety and showgirl glamour…

 


Monday

Life’s a drag

CellarDoor, Aldwych, Royal Opera House, WC2E 7DN
www.cellardoor.biz
9pm
Price Range: ££

One of London’s premier cocktail bars, this bijou basement space nestled at the Aldwych end of The Strand plays host to Topsie Redfern, Ginger Johnson, Michael Twaits and Cosmic every Monday (with each artist playing once a month) accompanied by the nimble-fingered Sarah Bodalbhai on the piano. If you want an intimate live music venue to kick back in, and a luscious cocktail menu to go to town on, away from the hustle and bustle of Soho, then CellarDoor is the place for you.

 


Tuesday

Bar Wotever

Royal Vauxhall Tavern, 372 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall SE11 5HY
www.vauxhalltavern.com
Doors 7pm, Show 8.30pm.
Price Range: £

One of the jewels of the cabaret scene! If you’ve never been to Bar Wotever, I implore you to go and experience this uniquely queertastic night at least once. Packed with traditional cabaret & burlesque, plus live music, performance art and spoken word, there’s a different theme/performers every week, based around highlighting and celebrating Queer culture and performance. Set up by Ingo Cando ten years ago, Bar Wotever is a welcoming and non-judgmental space for the Queer Community by the Queer Community.

 

 

See You Next Tuesday with Bette Rinse

Halfway to Heaven, 7 Duncannon Street, Charing Cross WC2N 4JF
www.halfway2heaven.net
9pm
Price Range: £

Bette Rinse (pictured) has been around as long as the dinosaurs but she’s still as great today as she was 165 million years ago. No two shows are ever the same, mostly because she goes off on the most hilarious tangents and rants. Expect traditional cabaret sing-alongs and heated debate in the weekly ‘Question Time’ section. There are often guests too, usually novice performers, who Bette likes to nurture and encourage. And then there’s the legendary Hannah of course – as much a fixture in the Centre Stage Bar as the various pictures that adorn every speck of wall-space available.

 


Wednesday

LoUis CYfer’s Wankered Wednesdays 

Admiral Duncan, 54 Old Compton Street W1D 4UD
www.facebook.com/1AdmiralDuncan
9.30pm
Price Range: £

This sassy, tequila swigging drag king has been resident here for over a year, but it was after winning last year’s Drag Idol UK competition that LoUis CYfer emerged proper, and was catapulted onto the performing circuit around the UK and America. Expect songs to make you strut like THE king, gender bending education, a friendly vibe and a heathy mix of all sorts in the audience.

 

The Dannii Dee Show

Freedom Bar, 66 Wardour Street W1F 0TA
www.freedombarsoho.com
11pm
Price Range: ££

Dannii Dee is a showgirl through and through. Flawless choreographed dance routines and masterful lip-syncing is on display every Wednesday night in the plush surroundings of Freedom’s downstairs bar. Having spent two years at the world famous Funny Girls in Blackpool before moving to London seeking fame and sequins, it’s safe to say she’s well and truly cut her teeth with the best, and has now come into her own at her spiritual London drag home.

 

Sandra  – The Hampstead Whore

Central Station, 37 Wharfdale Road, Kings Cross N1 9SD
www.centralstation.co.uk
11p

Price Range:

A night at one of Sandra’s shows is much like a night on the Heath: you’ll come home with a big smile on your face wondering where the time went. One of the true greats of the London drag cabaret scene, and an expert when it comes to improvising. Expect filthy banter, no-holds barred audience interaction and the odd song here and there. Hear me now!

 


Thursday

The City Shimmy

Proud Cabaret City, No.1 Mark Lane. EC3R 7AH
www.proudcabaretcity.com
Dinner 7-8pm, Show 8.30pm
Price Range: £££

Proud Cabaret City hosts a decadent evening of 1920’s speakeasy entertainment which will transport you to a world filled with beguiling burlesque and alluring cabaret, featuring a stellar cast. Perfect for special occasions/celebrations or if just fancy something ‘off-scene’ with a group of friends. Ticket includes a three course meal and full show.

 

The Jeff Kristian Show

Molly Moggs, 2 Old Compton Street W1D 4TA
www.jeffkristian.com
9pm
Price Range: £

Credited with being the longest concurrently running drag show in Soho history, Jeff Kristian has been performing at Molly Moggs for a whopping fourteen years. This is another diamond of a venue that most of us pass on our travels, situated at the Charing Cross Road end of Old Compton Street. What makes it especially unique is it’s clientele: kooky regulars, Soho characters, tourists, families, LGBT people. It really is a melting pot of London society, and every Thursday Jeff performs his two hour show to them all. Musically, anything from the last six decades is on the set list. A party venue that get’s very busy late at night, but with a warm and welcoming atmosphere, married together beautifully with the theatrical decor. Well, when you’re in the West End, darling…

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