By Faye Armstrong.
Sunday is God’s day; a day of rest. And what better way to rest than over Sunday Afternoon Tea, and what better way to show your appreciation of God and his fine, fine work of creation than sitting in silent gratitude watching beautiful Eves of the modern day perform tantalising burlesque? Only these Eves have yet to taste that fateful apple, their nudity shows no sign of embarrassment.
Holborn’s burlesque bar, club and resaturant Volupte has had the fantastic foresight to merge two of my favourite things and now offer a Time For Tease ‘Sunday Tease’: the explosive combination of Time For Tease Afternoon Tea and several hours of varied burlesque acts. God couldn’t have had a better idea himself.
I start upstairs among the ornate cushions and plush sofas and watch as fellow revellers order from the large selection of cocktails. The expert bar staff shake and stir better than Tom Cruise in Cocktail; until one breaks the illusion of mastery and drops the shaker like it is hotter than Jennifer Lopez (apparently the hottest woman in the world. I’m obviously the second.)
Our table is ready and so we leave the entertaining scene to descend downstairs and enter the dining area through a heavy red velvet curtain. It’s one room, booths hug the back wall for larger parties and there are round tables just in front for intimate groups of two. With a glass of fizz (part of the Time For Tease Afternoon Tea package), I’m seated at one such table; only it’s not intimate. Today I’m with my editor, Christian. Watching half naked ladies with your male boss is an interesting experience; discussing them, even more so.
First is Liberty Pink, a seductive singer with as much raw magnetism as Marilyn Monroe. She weaves between tables, running her finger across men’s shoulders. She has stage presence, that’s for sure. All eyes are on her and, more precisely, her breasts, which look dangerously close to making their own stage appearance. She leans on our table, arms straight, bum in the air, and correctly identifies where my editor’s eyesight is directed, stating “Yeh, they’re real” mid song [see video below].
With the concluding appreciation of whoops, whistles, claps and a ‘Shabam’ from one onlooker, the next act takes to the floor. It’s Ginger Blush [below], a red-haired lady, playing on the fact with her very clever and funny Elizabeth II themed act. I won’t give it away, but through the use of adapted song and some very inventive props, Ginger Blush gives what my editor describes as his ‘favourite burlesque act of all time’. She’s what burlesque is all about; the embodiment of both humour and sex in a way which exudes class and entertainment, not sleaze and sordidness.
The acts are interrupted – sorry, interspersed – by Afternoon Tea. First there is a selection of finger sandwiches – minus the crust of course, dahhhhhling – including cream cheese and salmon, curried chicken, egg mayonnaise, and parma ham, cheddar and rocket, and a large selection of teas (I opted for Darjeeling as I’d never tried it before. It was nice but I still favour the fizz. Shocker.) Then there are homemade scones with a selection of jams and clotted cream, and finally, the homemade cakes; brownies, lemon cake and mini pavlovas. Following this, the rubbing of a full belly and groans of both glutinous pleasure and pain.
I’ve been to quite a few Burlesque shows in my time (I realise that sentence makes it seem as if I’m 40 years older than I am) but the show at Volupte is the most varied I’ve seen, a great choice if you’ve never been to burlesque before and want to sample a bit of everything. A ‘burlesque buffet’ if you will.
Even I, with all my burlesque familiarity, was introduced to something I had not previously been exposed to: Gateaux Vivants [above]. These women act as ‘living pictures’, posing suggestively with objects such as cherries, holding the position with statuesque precision. Take a snap, scrawl ‘Wish You Were Here’ across it, and send it to everyone you know.
Scarlett Daggers [pictured above] uses a parasol to get the crowd worked up and the final act of the Time For Tease Afternoon Tea comes in the petite form of Marianne Cheesecake [below]. She enters with balloons attached to her underwear and through a series of ‘pops’ in between a series of alluring twists and turns, she exits with no balloons and a lot of sparkling dust covering her perfectly formed body. I fear I have too much appreciation for the womanly form.
It’s all over, and so too is my happiness. OK so that’s a little dramatic. I’m happy that Burlesque exists and that Volupte exists in particular. God may have created woman but Volupte created woman at her finest.
The Time For Tease Afternoon Tease at Volupte are available on every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month from 2.30pm – 5pm or every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month from 3pm – 5.30pm for only £42. Money can certainly buy you happiness.
Do the wise thing, either book yourself in at Volupte right now using this clever booking thingiemabob OR visit the Time For Tease website for listings and booking links
And if you’re looking for more burlesque bars and clubs in London, follow this link.