Long Live Soho: The Best Cabaret in London’s West End

Eva de Valk

It’s got a reputation as London’s epicentre of the more, ahem, risqué kinds of entertainment, and make no mistake, Soho is home to many thriving cabaret venues, from the old-but-goodies to the new kids in town. Read on for our recommendations for a thrilling night out.

One of the longest-running establishments you’ll find is Café de Paris, which, except for a period during the Second World War after it was bombed during a performance, has been open since 1924. During its heyday in the fifties it hosted everyone who was anyone, from Judy Garland to Frank Sinatra, and today, their cabaret show takes place on Friday and Saturday evenings, paying tribute to another legendary venue, New York’s infamous Studio 54. Expect singing, dancing, amazing circus skills and plenty of disco.

If you are keen to mingle with the A-list, you’re better off trying The Box. Just make sure you bring a fat wallet and a sense of adventure - this ‘theatre of varieties’ shocks and delights its audiences with its provocative, erotic shows that really involve all of the body parts. And the punters are almost as much of an attraction themselves – people reportedly come here to cut very, very loose, so this is not one for the faint-hearted.

Taste the Whip⚡️

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Those looking for something slightly more vanilla might fancy a trip to the Hippodrome Casino, which is currently hosting Channing Tatum’s brainchild Magic Mike Live. Another venue with an illustrious entertainment history, the Hippodrome opened in 1900 kitted out with a sliding roof and a massive water tank that made it possible to stage its famous ‘aquatic spectacles’ - parts of the auditorium could even be flooded to allow boats to enter. Alas, in 2019 we have to content ourselves with ridiculously good-looking men doing slick dance routines and showing off their abs. Ah well, you can’t win them all. 

Last but not least, Downstairs at Soho Theatre is the place to go for cabaret that’ll also score you a couple of culture points. The basement venue has a dedicated cabaret and comedy programme that regularly features some of the big names in the business, such as drag star Le Gateau Chocolat, alongside up-and-coming artists and lots of previews for the Edinburgh Fringe, so you really get a wide range of styles and genres. (Lucy McCormick’s cabaret-cum-performance art take on the life of Jesus from a couple of years ago will stay with me until the day I die.) And if you take a liking to the place, you can always stick around for more: with three performance spaces and at least six shows a night, there’s plenty to see. 

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