Remember those antiquated cabaret laws? We've danced so much, we shook them right off. New York's burlesque scene is old but has exploded like a supernova in the past few years, giving rise to several different scenes within the larger burlesque scene.
Duane Park is a lovely, upscale restaurant that feels old-fashioned -- but in a great way. The burlesque shows are very grand, with pure white ostrich feather fans and routines your grandmother would compare to Sally Rand. You could probably bring your grandmother here without scandalizing her, but still have a lovely time yourself. Dinner is very tasty, but all heads are turned toward the stage when the performers come on.
You'd think this classy new incarnation of the old Slipper Room was only burlesque -- and you'd be wrong. Buxom beauties do indeed shimmy and shake, but fire eaters, snake charmers, aerial artists and contortionists also wait behind the velvet curtain for you. Every other Monday, beloved show The Big Quiz Thing takes center stage.
This indie theater features the avant-garde in burlesque, theater, dance, and variety. On any given night 50 people are treated to anything from Mary Poppins burlesque to The Existential Variety Hour.
R Bar's back room plays host to a variety of burlesque shows. I recently saw Downton Abbey burlesque there, and no, I'm not going to hide my joy at two things I love being united for just one night. Grab a bowl of popcorn from the front and hunker down for a fun show.
Nurse Bettie has spicy ginger martinis, refreshing cucumber margaritas, and devilish Wednesday and Thursday night burlesque. Pinups line the walls of this 1950s Bettie Page-inspired bar, and gorgeous mid-century vintage furnishings give you a resting spot amidst the fratboy-ridden Lower East Side.
On some nights, Stonewall is a chill dive bar with a pool table, and on others, it's a danceparty or a boylesque revue called Homo Erectus, produced by NYC boylesquer extraordinaire Matt Knife.
Dinner at Macao combines Portuguese and Chinese flavors, with flavorful coconut milk cocktails and supersavory entrees like Hoisin barbecue noodles and forbidden black rice.
Monday nights at Macao mean Drunken Dragon Nights, a burlesque show hosted by producer Calamity Chang with a fabulous (read: long and topshelf) open bar. And yet, some of my friends have turned this show down.
New York City: the only city in world where you can call up a friend, tell him there's an open bar of fine cocktails in a beautiful setting where he'll be entertained by gorgeous girls doing burlesque for free, and he responds that he's going to stay home and watch Modern Family.
You'll regret it when you're older. Go now.
Chantelle is like the most popular girl you just can't hate. She's got it all -- lovely rooftop, fun French Mediterranean menu, very hip crowd, hot servers, jazz brunches with Dandy Wellington, and Friday night burlesque with Calamity Chang. Snuggle up on those red leather banquettes with your honey and get an eyeful of New York sexiness.