In an unremarkable locale near Roppongi Crossing, a risqué little club awaits, promising entertainment from another era. Don’t expect Christina Aguilera clones, but if you relax a little, the show at Burlesque Theater will remind you that life is a cabaret, old chum.
We’re there on Friday night, and it’s mayhem as usual. Four girls dominate the stage in basques, fishnets and stilettos, dancing to show tunes with high kicks and campy poses. Soon they’re replaced by a troupe in red silk teddies, hobbling around to AKB48. A curtain is drawn as the music shifts gear. Spotlights shine against the scrim and four ladies begin a silhouette striptease culminating in bras thrown into the air against a drum roll.
Suddenly, the heavy riffs of a reworked “You Spin Me Round” blare out with strobes going off, drinks turning blue in the black light. The senior troupe, the A-Team, is back on stage in skimpy leather S&M gear and long leather boots. They whip their hair around heavy metal-style, straddle chairs and break out the riding crops.
The front row is obviously the place to be as stocking legs rest on countertops and the girls strut out to the audience. And, ladies, lest you think this a lads’ night out, gynecology row is mostly seated by young women, all unabashedly having a good time.
Table charge at Burlesque is ¥3,000, and a further ¥1,500 will get you a one-hour nomihodai to loosen you up. They have beer, highballs, whisky, wine and shochu. Nothing goes better with cabaret than free-flowing booze, so if you’re planning to stay, pony up ¥8,000 at entry and suck down liquor all-night, pre-Prohibition style.
You can’t use cash inside the club, so purchase Monopoly money—called “Rion”—in ¥3,000 increments. Spend it on tipping your servers or performers, or for inviting them to your table for drinks (about ¥1,000 each).
The cabaret averages five shows a night, with the first main show at 10:30pm pulling out all the stops for 45 minutes. Go-go and pole dancers entertain in between, so there’s rarely a lull in the roar. Even the fellas of the club get onstage and lead in some dancing, singing and music swinging.
At the end of each show, patrons are invited up to the stage to dance and shed what’s left of their Rion by having dancers retrieve the bills with their mouths from wherever you happen to put them. Then, all staff parade around the tables to say thank you. Favorites are greeted with a bounty of bills stuffed none too delicately in their fishnets, garters, waistbands and brassieres. Some are treated with drinks, and many sit down to chat with regulars and newcomers.
It’s all in good fun, as the best burlesque is, and while the performances aren’t quite Broadway, it makes for an entertaining party—especially if you’re looking for something different of a Friday night.
Say “Metropolis” and table charge, 90-min nomihodai and 10 Rion are only ¥5,000 (¥3,000 ladies).