The 5 Best Places to See Burlesque in Chicago 

The city is filled with exciting shows in unique venues

March 26, 2024 6:40 am
women in red dress and red feather boa behind her
Lady Ve'Lush
Jess Genito

At Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition of 1893, a dancer named Little Egypt shocked audiences with a dance she called the “hoochee-coochee” (yes, that’s its actual nickname) To this day, the city is still revolutionizing the world of burlesque. While there’s no shortage of places to see burlesque performances in Chicago, we’ve narrowed down the list to the top five spots, including a speakeasy, a tarot-themed cocktail bar and a venue where you too can learn to do the hoochee-coochee. 


For when you want to spend the night pretending you’re in Paris, Bordel in Wicker Park has you covered. The Instagram-story-worthy Parisian-inspired cabaret and cocktail bar includes leopard-print stairs, pink velvet sofas, tasseled chandeliers and even custom wallpaper inspired by retro pulp covers. The venue is just as seductive as the burlesque show on stage.

Bordel hosts two performances every Thursday through Sunday night (at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.), with both burlesque dancers and jazz musicians. It bills itself as having “Chicago’s sexiest Cabaret shows,” so leave your more prudish friends at Mama Delia’s, the Spanish restaurant downstairs. (Bonus: a selection of dishes from Mama Delia is available all night at Bordel.) 

1721 W. Division St.

a man holding himself up on a single pole during a burlesque show
The Drifter
The Drifter

The Drifter

The Drifter — a speakeasy located in the basement of Green Door Tavern — is a bar and burlesque venue unlike any other in Chicago. And in a city of roughly 700,000 bars, that’s really saying something. The Drifter’s nearly-nightly show, which is curated by burlesque superstar Michelle L’amour (America’s Got Talent, MTV’s Amazingness, France’s Incroyable Talent and Epix Network’s Sex/Life), features a wide variety of acts, including burlesque, acrobatics, musicians, comedians and much more. (Seriously, like much more.) 

The space offers a rotating list of more than 100 cocktails, each described on their own custom tarot cards. Every night, the Drifter’s staff select a handful of cards from the deck to serve as that evening’s bar menu, ensuring that every night is totally unique. The Drifter’s show runs from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. every Wednesday through Saturday, with performances spaced throughout the night. 

676 N Orleans St.

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Newport Theater

The event calendar at Newport Theater — which bills itself as “Chicago’s Home for Fringe Theater” — is jam-packed with artist-produced burlesque performances alongside drag, comedy and variety shows. While the shows vary from night to night, there’s several recurring series, including the Newport Peek-Easy Show and the one-of-a-kind monthly “Boobs and Bingo,” alongside special short-run shows. If you think you have what it takes to step into the spotlight (and possible step out of your clothes), The Newport Theater also offers a wide range of workshops and classes, with courses for beginners, old pros and everyone in between. 

956 W Newport Ave.

stage with neon lights, tables with blue chairs with gold lining, red napkins
Untitled Supper Club
Tyler Hughes (Kinship)

Untitled Supper Club

At Untitled Supper Club, you can enjoy all the best parts of the Roaring 1920s (like the bar’s beautiful Prohibition Era-inspired design) without any of the bad parts (like the risk of getting sick from your bootleg hooch). Every Thursday night, the 18,000-square-foot restaurant, bar and live entertainment space is home to Unbridled, the city’s longest-running weekly burlesque, circus and variety show. Along with some of the top burlesque performers in the city, you’ll also catch aerial acts, acrobatics and much more. 

Unbridled is free to attend, although if you want a table in the main room, there’s a minimum spend of $75 per person (which bumps up to $100 per person for VIP seats). But with a menu of shareable plates and desserts plus the largest collection of American whiskies in the world, you won’t have a hard time hitting the minimum. Stick around after the show when the bar turns into a late-night dance party. 

111 W Kinzie St.

Baton Show Lounge

For When You Want a Little Chicago History Alongside Your Burlesque 

The Baton Lounge, which celebrated its 54th birthday in its new(ish) Uptown location this year, has been entertaining Chicagoans and our city’s guests for decades. Where else in Chicago can say that Madonna, RuPaul and Lauren Bacall have visited? While most notably known for its drag shows, Baton Show Lounge also offers patrons a range of burlesque shows, including Thirst-Tease Thursdays, a queer and inclusive burlesque show held on the first Thursday of every month. The theater also offers a wide range of shorter-run burlesque shows, from comedic to mythology-inspired.

4713 N Broadway

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