In Brighton’s Bohemian quarter stands one of my favourite landmarks. Once a mausoleum it is now the home to the cities very own Proud Cabaret. This building is steeped in history and the perfect setting for an extravagant array of burlesque, cabaret, jazz and intimate dining.
This time of year I can often be found hibernating in order to avoid the grey, wet evenings. However when the opportunity arose to put on my glad rags I immediately felt a sense of excitement. I have always been fascinated with the roaring twenties era of prohibition, drinking, smoking and dancing all night in secret locations. The good old days my grandfather would say and the perfect opportunity to have an impromptu date night with my husband George.
Proud Cabaret’s efficiency and ease of booking was a breath of fresh air. We were emailed and asked to select our three course meal and also reminded that the evening commences at 7:00pm sharp. Our booking was for a slightly quieter Thursday. George and I promptly arrived, ready to be seduced by the sultry world of burlesque…..Well I was, but my husband having never experienced burlesque was a little less gung-ho. He was nonetheless intrigued and thrilled with the idea of the VIP package. Three course meal, desert, cheese platter an extensive array of cocktails and a signed programme in case he felt the need to divert his attention away from the stage.
The entrance is humble, but this sets the scene for the splendor that lay behind the heavy velvet curtain. Low lighting and colourful whisps of vapour swirl around recreating the feeling of a jazz venue. The high ceilings, romantic booths and abundance of art deco pictures on the wall really enhance the feeling of stepping back in time.
My husband and I enjoy socialising and have always considered a ‘Big’ night out to be London, yet from the moment we walked through the door and were seated at our romantic booth we felt a sense of satisfaction as this had more of a city vibe than we have been used to in Brighton.
It makes a huge difference having a dedicated table host and we received a very warm welcome from Catherine. Immediately we noted Catherine’s passion for her role at Proud and knowledge of not only the three Cabaret venues under the Proud Umbrella but also the art galleries, the food, cocktails and the performers.
As the evening started to unfold we were introduced to the two mixologists Ben and Ryan. Cocktails were popularised in the 1920’s in order to mask the taste of the homemade liquor, so it was fitting that we try some of the best cocktails on offer in order to set the scene for our evening of decadence and glamour. I had a ‘Lynchburg lemonade’ it was possibly the best cocktail I have tasted in ages with the strapping kick of Tennessey Whiskey, triple sec and lemon. My husband opted for a Red Chilli Martini with a vodka base and Serrano chilli to add a little spice to our already vibrant evening.
James the new general manager recently transferred from Proud London to Brighton. He is full of inspiration and excitement for enhancing the Brighton experience and taking it to the next level with a new cocktail menu soon to be implemented and a desire to ensure the best performers regularly frequent this venue by the sea.
Every space is covered in opulent baroque decor and as the tables started to fill the buzz in the room became captivating.George and I were both surprised at the swift arrival of our first course. I had the Girolle and Mushroom Wonton Ravioli and George decided to keep things local and have the Sussex Haddock. Both dishes were beautifully presented and given the privacy of our booth we decided to share which enhanced our dining experience. At this point the combination of cocktails and romance seemingly made us both feel rather whimsical and nostalgic a perfect date night!
Our main of Steamed Soy & Ginger Seabass and French Trimmed Lamb Culets were flavoursome. The menu is seasonal and as James pointed out while the entertainment is paramount the food is just as important. Standards are high and I believe he has his eye on the ball with ensuring Brighton competes with the best of London.
Proud Cabaret is open Thursday through to Sunday and every night is different as the combination of performers and hosts varies on availability. Ultimately be prepared for a variety show. All tastes are catered for and whilst we didn’t experience the male acts or as Proud say, ‘boyesque’ performers, we had the perfect mix of rich and colourful, slightly risqué performances with swing sensation tunes belted out inbetween acts.
As the lights dimmed a spotlight shone on our flamboyant and hugely talented host Paul Roberts we sank into our booth and prepared for the show ahead. The acts varied from your usual seductive strip tease to Chi Chi Revolver a hula hooping extraordinaire. George of course said this was his favourite act, but I could see he was captivated by various performances although he did look away when the nipple tassel swinging carried on longer than expected.
I was so excited when one of my favourite performers Cherry Shakewell graced the stage. This blond Brighton bombshell is a favourite and when she isn’t performing for celebrities or abroad you may be lucky enough to catch her in Proud Brighton.
The elegantly choreographed routines, professional performers and attention to detail make this an easy recommendation for any form of celebration, an intimate date or even an after work retreat. The backdrop alone is worth a look and while there is the option of standing room only, I would highly recommend the full experience as this truly is a memorable and alternative night out.
Our evening was perfectly executed and full of hedonistic glitz and glamour. Proud Cabaret plays host to the best of burlesque and as our night came to an end both George and I agreed we thoroughly enjoyed every second of our experience and will be booking again with the knowledge that a totally different enchanting night awaits in our very own town and also only a stroll along the beach home!