A seven-man jazz band playing swing music at the entrance, a complimentary glass of champagne after receiving my ticket and two big-chested men smiling and offering me a Lindt chocolate in red wrapping, I knew I was in store for a different sort of cabaret as soon as I arrived at the Bloomsbury Ballroom last Friday.
At the Wam Bam Club, you don’t just watch a show, you’re a part of it.
The set up of the show, entertaining guests and interacting with them from the start, invites you to join in. The seating arrangement in the ballroom and the way the show is carried out actually gives you the chance to.
With an art deco interior design, the Bloomsbury Ballroom has one main stage at the front and the Wam Bam Club adds another to the middle. Small tables and chairs border the room. You’ll have to get cozy with your neighbor and the performers, as it’s a packed house, but you’ll want to as one of them is the bubbly and hilarious Lady Alex.
“These are my cabaret bitches,” she screams as an even number of male and female sex pots, known as the Wam Bam Buff Boys and Wam Bam Belles, run down the middle of the ballroom and surround her on stage.
The show just felt laid back and inclusive of all interests from the start, but I didn’t really think about why, just went with it. At intermission I talked to someone at my table about the show and she mentioned how she noticed it was a lot different from most burlesque and cabaret, because it wasn’t just women taking off their clothes, but also yummy men.
Mysterious and cutesy burlesque acts by female bombshells are matched with a sailor-themed double striptease to “In the Navy” by two buff men, which ends in nothing but skin and soap I must add.
Further, Lady Alex, the MC and show creator, is a woman, which is another major difference to most cabarets. (Note, there are several other amazing women that make up the burlesque and cabaret scene in London, whether it be in their performance or creativity. In fact, I’d say there are more women in the industry than man. I only notice by this statement that I’ve not seen any female MC’s in London or in performances around the world. It was something different at Wam Bam Club in my experience.)
It doesn’t seem like the Wam Bam Club is trying to make a stand. They’re just having fun the best way they know how. That’s the biggest impression this show leaves. Laugh, leave your worries behind and never take yourself to seriously.
This is clear by how many comedy acts are offered in the two-hour show. It starts with the fabulous Bunny Galore. In a blond wig and red dress, the drag act sings, “When you’re good to momma,” and the entire audience replies, “Mama’s good to you.”
Then there’s Ninia Benjamin. Dressed in Primark clothes, not one sequin, you wonder what she has to do with cabaret as she comes to the stage. The loud-mouthed comedian lets it all out and will have you laughing so hard her non-burlesque wardrobe won’t matter by the end of her routine.
“I’m a dirty fucking bitch,” she warns everyone within minutes of hitting the stage. That’s apparent with her sex lessons that include Kit Kat references.
But the definite highlight for me came with the show’s headlining act, Up and Over It. The duo may have cleaned their act up for America’s Got Talent, but they held nothing back for the Wam Bam Club.
“This is what happens when Irish dancing goes a little bit tits up,” Lady Alex says before introducing them.
Their performance starts with just one woman and one man sat at a table with two open bottles of booze. Black eyes on both of them, ripped-up clothes and wild hair, they look as though they’ve been on a three-day bender.
The male part pours an obvious white powder across the table and snorts it, only to be outdone by his female counterpart. This “Anything you can do I can do better” persona continues as they go back and fourth with an incredible tap dance routine, first done only by hand but then taken to their feet.
Smoke surrounds them from the powder on the table as they stare furiously at each other and wait for the other to mess up during the strenuous routine. Neither does. In fact, their flawless. They take a few swigs from their bottles, carrying on with one hand, without even flinching.
The show ends with a Marie Antoinette-like extravaganza. Lady Alex is at the center of it, wearing a boat around her waist that shoots confetti. She’s surrounded by the Wam Bam Buff Boys and Wam Bam Belles.
It’s grand, fabulous, hilarious, beautiful, flawless and colorful. It’s not just cabaret or comedy or dance or burlesque, it’s a genre unto itself. It’s Wam Bam Club.
The show doesn’t end when the performers leave the stage either. The Top Shelf, the seven-man swing band mentioned at the start, take to the stage along with DJ Earl of Ealing and the floor opens up to the crowd for the show’s after party.
General admission costs £25 and includes a free glass of wine and seating at shared tables.
For £35 you’ll receive a complimentary glass of wine again and find seating at private tables closer to the stage. Plus, they provide seating for groups in the sofa area. You can also pay £10 to enter only for the after party. Their next show at the Bloomsbury Ballroom is Friday, June 28, but they also perform every Saturday at Cafe de Paris. All tickets can be purchased on their website.
Wam Bam Club offered me press admission to review this show. All opinions are my own.