As with any restaurant, you're met at the door by the waiter who seats you. Our waiter however is wearing black leather hot pants, black heeled boots with studs, more eye make-up than me and a scowl. “Choose a hand”, he barks and, picking for me when I take too long to decide, handcuffs himself to me. So begins my journey into London’s newest trend in cabaret.

The promoters call it an “experiential burlesque dinner” while the uninitiated might call it dinner and a show, with a twist. The twist? You are the entertainment, for the waiters at least. Waiting on our table is a woman in a short blue PVC dress and fishnet tights. She won’t allow us our complimentary cocktail until we’ve taken the punishment - a light paddling - and we risk a punishment for any infraction of the rules of our table, or the rules she chooses as the night progresses.

Mistress Lauren, as our waitress (read: dominatrix) requests we call her, also insists that we comment on how lovely she looks every time she comes to the table. I’ll admit she’s a little scary but the feel of the evening is light-hearted and she’s quick to explain that we can blow out the candle on our table if we don’t want to be involved in the game and there’s always the safe word. No need to use it though as Mistress Lauren gauged the mood of the table and didn’t hover too much, providing only a few spankings as the night went on.

While we might have been the entertainment for the waiters, the real entertainment came in the form of four performers each presenting two acts and a Mistress of Ceremonies who held it all together.

Our Mistress of Ceremonies, Dita, did all the usual tricks - drinking people’s drinks, confiscating phones, making bawdy jokes and singing delightfully lascivious songs like “You Give Me Fever”.  Meanwhile the other performers were wonderfully balanced against each other. To tell you all the tricks would be to ruin the fun but be prepared for the comic in Kiki Kaboom and her song about her cat (aka her pussy); the pleasure/pain question from Aisha Paige; soul from the petitie form of suitably named Bambi and a nod to EL James with Beau Rocks props bag.

Breaks in the entertainment were punctuated with audience members being made to crawl across the floor, paddled while they swung from the rope swing on stage or blind-folded and photographed in the photo booth. No one taking part seemed distressed and the only fear I heard voiced was that a double chin might appear in the photo.

With all the activity and entertainment it would have been easy to overlook the food but a menu with four options to choose from for each course is nothing to be sneezed at.  My perfectly cooked scallops, tender beef and good portions of cheese were a suitably tasty, and tasteful, accompaniment to the more saucy elements of the night.

Given some of the reactions to a recent image on our Facebook page of a comparatively tame West End burlesque show and the fact that many feminists have hit out against the EL James Fifty Shades phenomenon which inspired this show, it’s certainly not the show for everyone.

But if you’re looking for good cabaret, good food and are willing to take everything in the spirit it’s meant – good, sinful fun – then you’d certainly find a treat in this show. This may be the first of its kind in the UK but it certainly won’t be the last as cabaret and erotica find their way into the mainstream once more.

- Laura Norman

50 Shades of Cabaret continues every Thursday at Proud Camden for the next three months
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