Monday, 20 August 2012

Volupté, Afternoon Tease!

The Oxford dictionary defines the word 'burlesque' as: A variety show, typically including striptease. In reality burlesque is so much more then that; it's an art, it's glamours, it's empowering, it's a symbol of femininity and most importantly it's fun.

The origins of burlesque began in 19th century British music halls, where the term referenced theatrical entrainment. In the 1860's curvaceous, undressed women were introduced to keep the audience interested, in Victorian England women desperately tried to conceal their body shape so the prospect of beautiful young ladies appearing on stage in very little was extremely endearing. In the same year, Britain's Lydia Thompson became burlesques first star and helped to bring burlesque to America. In the late 1860s her burlesque band 'The British Blondes' became New York's biggest theatrical sensation grossing over $370,000 in their first season! The 1920's saw the rise of film and radio, so in a bid to compete strip tease was introduced to offer something both film and radio could not.

However, to avoid total nudity and the unwanted attention that it would bring from the authorities alongside pleasing their audience burlesque ladies would cover their privates with flimsy underwear and use 'pasties' to cover their nipples. Moving forward to the 1940's Hollywood was emerging with a glamourous, sexy image giving rise to the 'pin up girl'. In this era, burlesque nightclubs began to emerge with new, more enticing routines and costumes. The most prominent examples of these were Lili St Cxyr with her onstage bubble bath act, and Evangeline the original Oyster girl. The 1950's paid homage to the female form, were the hourglass figure was in style and the corset was back in full fashion. It is argued, that traditional burlesque origins can be seen in Marilyn Monroe's famous screen acts which combine both comedy with teasing. In the burlesque world Miss Monroe had her own imitator, Dixie Evans who would reveal more than Monroe while dancing with a Joe di Maggio dummy. In recent times the burlesque world has been undergoing a worldwide revival, as the scene is exploding with gorgeous women like the iconic Dita Von Teese.

Tucked away in the home of burlesque itself, you will find Volupté near Chancery Lane in central London. Like us, allow yourself to be transported back to the golden era of Burlesque.

Having no previous experience with the world of burlesque, I was not sure what to expect and dare I admit a little nervous. Approaching the front door we were welcomed warmly and directed to Volupté's incredible Bon Bon bar for pre show drinks! The bar is completely unique and one of a kind; smothered with pick and mix for purchase, candy trees that looked oh so delicious doted on the bar, a highly skilled bartender eagerly awaiting to create your wondrous cocktails with only the freshest ingredients and a box filled with elaborate nipple tassels! Moving away from the bar itself, your treated to old school music, black and white silent TVs showing a host of classics including Betty Boop and an incredible atmosphere created by the excitement oozing from hen parties, couples and friends dressed in vintage attire.

In need of a refreshment we asked the bartender to suggest some cocktails for us because the choice is so vast. We tried cocktails from the 'Show Stoppers' section; I chose the sweet 'Porn Star Martini' which contained Stoli vanilla and Passoa teamed with passion fruit puree and vanilla sugar accompanied with a shot of St Evremond champagne. Chelsie selected 'French 77' which is comprised of St Germain elderflower liqueur shaken with fresh lemon juice and a dash of sugar crowned with champagne. The drinks we enjoyed at Bon Bon bar are the best cocktails we have tried worldwide to date!

At Volupté you are beckoned for afternoon tea per booking rather then as a whole, ensuring that from the onset your service is of the very highest standard. Afternoon Tease is served downstairs, were the theme is transformed with the helping hand of memorabilia typical of the golden buresque era. Dotted around the walls you will see framed pictures of both fictional and real burlesque icons and a secluded area equip with a dreamy backdrop, an inviting settee and bird cages- a perfect photo opportunity! Our waitress guided us to our reserved table that was the perfect combination of beauty and intimacy. A novel touch that both Chelsie and I were fond of and had previously not experienced was the deliberately muddled vintage chinaware. As the room began to fill up and our afternoon tea orders were taken; I found myself growing increasingly excited with the anticipation of what we would be instore for us!

The show began a little differently from what I was expecting; we were treated with an introduction to our afternoon tea frolics by a gentleman called David the Bear. David who was dressed with a remarkable likeness to the 'Village People' humorously warmed the audience up with jokes, a very unique rendition of Justin Timberlake's 'Sexyback' and of course an introduction to our first burlesque lady. The first act of the 'Afternoon Tease' was a cabaret performance. In which we were serenaded beautifully with dare I say some additional tongue and cheek humour thrown in! The wonderful thing about Volupté is the intimacy of your seating; because you are so close to your burlesque beauties you truly feel a connection to the performance. As the lady sang, she made her way around the numerous tables, and even went as bold as to demand a spanking from one of the gentlemen in the audience!

The following act from the cabaret was our first true experience with the world of Burlesque! The lady came onto the stage with a divine, flamboyant Union Jack costume. The music began to play 'Don't Stop Me Now' by Queen, and as the music flowed so did her routine which in turn got the audience atmosphere buzzing. The routine was a delightful mix of naughty, playful humour in which she captivated her audience. The grand finale involved a tasteful strip to reveal to us all her Union Jack nipple tassels and thong; with a rainfall of glitter! I really enjoyed my first burlesque act, and I found myself contemplating asking her after the show where I could purchase some Union Jack tassels! The performances at Volupté operate in 15 minute intervals which meant it was afternoon tea time and a much needed opportunity to have a chinwag about the performances we had just seen!

Our waitress Rachel smiled warmly as we were presented with our cute two tiered afternoon tea. Rachel talked through the different items on the stand, before we were left to indulge. Afternoon Tease includes all of usual afternoon tea favourites, the selection of finger sandwiches included the following: Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Dill on Whole Grain Bread, Honey-Roasted Ham and English Mustard on Walnut Bread, Egg Mayonnaise and Cress on Basil Bread, Chicken and Avocado on Caraway Bread, and Roasted Beef and Horseradish on Beetroot Bread. The food had a homemade feel to it, which can be a nice alternative to the offerings at hotels. Our favourite sandwich in the selection was the chicken and avocado; which was bursting with freshness alongside having flavours that complemented each other very well. We enjoyed our savoury part of the afternoon tea with a flute of Picasa champagne and refreshing glass of still water.

To welcome in Act 2; David the Bear returned to the stage dressed in a delectable sailor outfit and introduced to us all the next act a magician. This act involved a considerable amount of interaction with the audience, as he bedazzled us with time travelling tricks and the ability to freeze water! Alas, we were not given the secrets to his tricks but it was very enjoyable. We were then treated to another burlesque act, which differed greatly to the first as we saw the lady transform from a geek chick similar to Sandy from Grease dressed in pink, to a true Rick James Superfreak!

The mouthwatering scones and desserts were awaiting us during the interval. Keeping inline with the homemade theme, we were treated to freshly baked, warm fruit and plain scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. The desserts were comprised of: chocolate shots, cherry Bakewell slices and lemon tarts with passion fruit. A special mention must go to the desserts as they were just heavenly, especially the chocolate shot! Kate and I prefer to enjoy our tea with desserts which we did on this occasion, the tea selection is impressive with the following options available: English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Lapsang Souchong, Peppermint, Assam, Ceylon Tea, Chamomile, Apple and Mango, Red Fruits, Rose Congu, Green Tea Sencha, China Jasmine Green Tea, Japanese Cherry (Green Japanese Sencha flavoured with natural cherry). I selected the Rose Congu, and Kate selected the refreshing Apple and Mango tea. We must say that we really enjoyed the novel combination of delicious dinning and entrainment.

At Volupté there is a special item on the 'Afternoon Tease' menu that Chelsie and I indulged in, and as a result of our love for it we strongly urge you to try the alcoholic tea! We tried the Hot Toddy, which is served just like regular tea, but has a distinct kick to it! The varieties include:

Hot Toddy - Scotch, Cinnamon, Cloves, Orange, Honey, Gunfire

Lapsang Souchong Tea, Dark Rum

Amarettea - Di Saronno, Earl Grey Tea, Double Cream

From Russia With Love - Vanilla Vodka, Kahlua, vanilla syrup, coffee

La Choco Noisette - Di Saronno, Frangelico, vanilla syrup, hot chocolate.

The final part of the show welcomed back David the Bear with no dress change, much to our dismay and our final burlesque act for the afternoon. The final act heavily incorporated the spirt and glamour of the Moulin Rouge with her beautiful feather adorned outfit. The lady once again sang to us, but this time combined both dance and burlesque undressing. This final performance was a sensual ending to our Volupté experience!

Volupte ‘AfternoonTease' begins at 2.30 and finishes around 5pm, Kate and I feel this is a truly perfect place for an alternative gathering with the girls on a Saturday afternoon. The Volupté afternoon tease experience combines great entrainment with quintessentially English cruisine- which we adored. 

Volupte ‘AfternoonTease'caters for all dietary requirements but notice should be given prior to attendance.

There is no official dress code for Afternoon Tease! Guests can and indeed do dress up in their feathers and finery; which we think is brilliant!

Afternoon Tease! @ Volupté runs from 14.30 - 17.00

Tickets for Afternoon Tease! are £42, this includes full afternoon tea and a table for the afternoon.

You can book tickets either online using the links below, you can also email Volupte's reservations team on or you can call them on 0207 831 1622. Please don't contact Time For Tease to make your reservation.


  1. I was treated to this afternoon tea for my Birthday this year, we enjoyed it so much that we are visiting again this weekend!

    Tea with Me and Friends

  2. We loved this afternoon tea too!! such great fun and wonderful food.