- Featuring press and paid for experiences at the London Burlesque Festival and Afternoon Tea Academy.
Any excuse for a weekend in London – how could I say no when I was invited along for a weekend of tea, cake and burlesque dancing? I’m always looking for new things to do in London, and happily it’s a city that rarely disappoints. Over the years, I’ve crammed in West End shows, food tours and even a walk over the O2 Arena! I love finding quirky new ways to experience the city and last weekend was no different. Starting my weekend at the 13th annual London Burlesque Festival, I was ready for a night of rock & roll style debauchery, before indulging in one of Britain’s finest traditions – the classic afternoon tea.
Spoiler alert: This post includes a hearty dose of burlesque sass and copious amounts of cake.
Rock & Roll Revue – London Burlesque Festival
As my first ever burlesque show, it’s safe to say I had no idea what to expect from the London Burlesque Festival. Naturally, we decided to fill our boots with delicious food before we arrived and plumped for an amazing little Asian restaurant just down the street. We enjoyed an amazing feast at Ugly Dumpling, with platters of dumplings to share – a choice of meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan – followed by a dessert dumpling platter with apple pie, Nutella and even pecan pie flavours! I can’t recommend it enough for cheap and delicious food near Soho.
The Rock & Roll Revue was held at the Karma Sanctum Hotel, downstairs in their events room which was dark, cosy and had a real 1920’s speakeasy vibe to it. With a bar lining the back wall, it was the perfect place for the misdeeds and saucy behaviour that was set to follow. It was a sold-out performance with blend of burlesque fanatics and many new to the dance form all eager to see the show. With most of their other May performances sold out, it has become clear very quickly the immense popularity of burlesque dancing and after seeing the show, I can understand why.
Fast forward two hours and the whole audience was on their feet clapping and cheering at what had been an amazing celebration of female confidence, sensuality and strength. The performers were unfailing engaging, cheeky, daring and hilarious performing their onstage antics in glamourous sequinned outfits. But what stood out the most by far, was how refreshing it was to spend a night with an audience of people celebrating real women’s bodies. No unrealistic body expectations – instead this beautiful collection of women showed off their curves with pride. A large dose of sass was served up with dimpled thighs, soft stomachs and an unrivaled confidence. It was beautiful to see and a welcome change.
The London Burlesque Festival is ongoing throughout the rest of May, June and July, with tickets still available to some of the shows. Find more information and buy tickets here.
Afternoon Tea Academy – Plate Restaurant
The next day, I was invited along to Afternoon Tea Academy at Plate Restaurant, at the Montcalm Hotel in Shoreditch, and took along my lovely blogging friend, Aftab, of Fresh and Fearless, as my date. The event was kicking off their exciting summer season of special events hosted by ex-Gordon Ramsey chef, Arnaud Stevens, in collaboration with one of the UK’s best rare tea suppliers, P.M. David Silva and Sons. A quintessentially English afternoon, the experts were on hand to guide us through the unique flavours of each individual tea and the delicious confectionery they had been paired with.
The classic three-tiered afternoon tea stand had been reimagined for this special event – with each layer expertly paired with tea handpicked by Dananjaya Silva. We started with the savoury course which featured strong flavoured sandwiches in a delicate brioche-style bread served with Golden Garden Estate Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings tea. My particular favourites were the classic Chapel & Swan smoked salmon with dill cream cheese, and the quirky but delicious beetroot hummus, feta cheese and smoked pepper. This was followed by my favourite course – the freshly baked buttermilk scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve. And of course, this too was paired with another unique blend, Inverness Estate Orange Pekoe 1.
The final course was definitely one for anyone with a sweet tooth – a choice of individual handmade creations. Spiced apple crumble cake, a crispy choux with Valrhona milk chocolate, rhubarb and custard mille-feuille and a bite size white chocolate and olive oil macaron. This was all washed down with Planters Mistress tea, a light golden offering scented with bergamot, orange and lemon peel, leaving you feeling refreshed. A very special afternoon tea experience in such a beautiful hotel – this ultimate afternoon tea experience is priced at just £49 per person. Find out more about Afternoon Tea Academy here.
Have you been to a burlesque show or afternoon tea in London? Where was your favourite?