Glasgow Cabaret Festival

Ditties, titties and saucy little bitties!

Making a rare West Coast appearance, Dr Gypsy Charms, widely credited as being Europe’s leading burlesque teacher and choreographer, will be peeling to perfection in the city she first stripped in over a decade along.  Having completed her PhD studies at the University of Glasgow earlier this year, she will be appearing at Cottiers Theatre – a stone’s throw away from her alma mater – as she takes part in the Glasgow Cabaret Festival (

This year saw the Edinburgh Fringe Guide have its inaugural cabaret section in its listings, clearly demonstrating the Fringe’s belief that cabaret is not a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ trend, rather that there is a long-term resurgence in the genre.

The cabaret scene in the UK has been developing alongside the populist burlesque scene; and while burlesque has become something of a byword for ‘anything goes’, cabaret has become synonymous with quality. A burlesque show is distinguishable from a cabaret show in that traditionally the former have burlesque acts introduced and linked through a comedy compère. Cabaret shows, which may include burlesque acts, offer a broader range of musical comedy, circus, magic, illusion and/or dance acts in their format.  Much like the variety shows that dominated Britain pre-1945, cabaret offers its audience a selection of stand-alone acts linked by a compère, who is him/herself a stand-alone act. Unlike its family friendly parent, cabaret is more subversive, questioning and adult than variety. While variety audiences were accustomed to a beautiful songstress belting out popular hits, her cabaret cousin will play with the audiences’ expectations.  Renditions of songs like ‘Mein Herr’, or a straight dance act recreating West End numbers like ‘All that Jazz’ are perfectly pleasant, but it seems that audiences prefer their cabaret to be more than just cover versions.

The last decade has seen the cabaret scene in the UK produce world acclaimed cabaret performers like Sarah Louise Young, Dusty Limits, Paul L Martin and Desmond O’Connor to name but a few. These performers have been treading the boards for far longer than a decade, but they have spearheaded the resurgence in cabaret. Gypsy, while having a background in striptease enjoys the creative freedom that cabaret permits its performers; ‘cabaret lets me push boundaries as a performer’, she tells us, ‘and, while I do love performing striptease based acts, cabaret lets me be funny, dark, satirical, controversial and even ugly – it gives me limitless freedom as a performer.’

This year sees Glasgow celebrate cabaret in all its forms with the Glasgow Cabaret Festival. Curated by Rhymes with Purple, the Festival offers Glasgow a taste of some of the Fringe’s best cabaret alongside new productions. From magic and musical comedy to burlesque and circus, the festival programme has plenty to offer the good folk of Glasgow. Flagship Pleasance cabaret show Vive Le Cabaret is making Cottiers Theatre its home in Glasgow, while Nude is offering the best of Glasgow Burlesque in ‘All Stripped Down’. Cabaret tsars Frisky and Mannish will be educating the West Coast with their musical comedy prowess and Desmond O’Connor premiers a new cabaret piece. The best of Scottish cabaret can be seen at the festival with Gypsy Charms, the Kitsch Kats, Cherry Loco, the Creative Martyrs and Leyla Rose all appearing at productions in the Festival.

Gypsy Charms