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If you haven’t already seen it, Cardi B recently threw herself a Cabaret Burlesque themed party for her 30th birthday. It was gorgeous! Whether you want to jump on the trend because you’re a fan, or you just want to throw a ‘dirty 30s’ themed event, here’s some how to tips and tricks to throw a burlesque themed party yourself.
I think this is a super fun party theme! You can use it for an all girls birthday party, bachelorette party idea, or even just a regular birthday party theme. How sexy you make it will depend on your own preferences and taste; you can go full burlesque, or make it more 20s inspired.
There’s also some information here on what to wear if you get invited to a burlesque party too!
Table of Contents
What is Burlesque? Why Have a Burlesque Party?
Burlesque has been around a long time. Since at least the late 17th century, although it was popularized during the Victorian period. Although some folks would consider them strippers, burlesque dancers did (and still do) appear in a variety of states between dressed and undressed depending on the show.
Extravagant performances, burlesque combines music, flashy costumes, and unique dance moves to create a unique form of entertainment.
A burlesque party pulls some of these fun elements like costumes and music to create a unique party theme. Most folks prefer to mix it with cabaret (jazz clubs) themes for a 20s and 30s inspired vibe.
What You Need to Host a Burlesque Themed Party
A lot goes into planning any party, but what makes a burlesque party different from a regular party? The cabaret theme, of course! Here’s how to capture that with your party planning for a home party or venue.
You might also like this party planning checklist to stay on track.
Cabaret Inspired Costumes
A lot of folks go with cabaret style costumes for their burlesque parties. This style is predominantly inspired by 1920s and 1930s type fashion. If you’re feeling the vibe, you can also wear sexy burlesque inspired outfits and costumes – but it’s not required to make this event fun.
For Women or Feminine Styles
- Flapper dresses
- Feather shall and boas
- Chiffon dresses
- Short dresses with full skirts
- Stockings (knee high or fishnet)
- Beading or pearls
- Showy hats or headpieces with feathers
- High heels
For Men or Masculine Styles
- Suits, especially black pinstripe or colored/velvet
- Bowler hat or top hat
- White shirt with suspenders
- Tie or, more popular, bowtie
- If you want more “bling” consider glittery silver pieces
- Leather formal shoes or boots
Burlesque Party Food and Drinks
Remember, the big draw for burlesque was that you could have some adult fun, so classy drinks are a must. Anything from that time period is going to be a big play on the theme; think classic cocktails and vintage glassware.
When it comes to food, really anything goes. Personally, I’d serve anything you’d normally feel comfortable eating at a party, but make it classy. Cheese, crackers, meats, and hors d’oeuvres look even better served on gold, silver, or vintage dishes and trays.
Some burlesque clubs now offer dinner and show type packages, which could also be fun for a party. Have everyone sit down to dinner together and watch a Burlesque show on a projector or TV screen.
Anything from the 20s and 30s cabaret style will work well for this party theme and it shouldn’t be too difficult to find fun decor. You’ll have to decide if you’re in a “classy” burlesque club or a more “lowbrow” affair.
When in doubt, opt for silver, gold, and white colors in your decor. Balloons, while not traditional, can add a bit of inexpensive color. Shiny tassels and other garland can be added to your party areas to make it look more decorated.
Jazz was all the rage! Make a playlist of popular jazz hits from that era, along with some upbeat popular songs that fit too. If you’d rather stay away from old music you can also bring a modern touch in by curating a playlist that includes a mix of contemporary jazz too.
Make it a Victorian Burlesque Party Instead
If you want to go further back into burlesque you can easily adapt this party theme to the Victorian Era instead of the 20s and 30s jazz era. To make that work, swap your costume inspiration to Victorian type period. Although some of the examples will still apply, women’s dresses are typically longer and fuller in that period. Men wore suits that were more traditional, usually made from natural materials like wool or velvet. Hats were typically top hats.
You’ll also want to change the music from jazz to classical. But this isn’t just any classical music (skip the mozart), you want something more upbeat and fun. Look at what music was popular during that era, as well as pulling in some tradition arias from operas that will be fun to dance to.
For decorations, anything from the Victorian Era will work, but I love the idea of printing and hanging the cabaret and burlesque ad posters around from that period. You can find them online easily!