Bars and clubs in Central London carry an unfortunate reputation of being over-expensive and isolating. While at Sway Bar in Covent Garden the staff were friendly and the cocktails made with a dash of flair, the venue largely lives up to these expectations.
Fortunately, myself and the girlfriend had not come merely for a drink. We had come to see the House of Burlesque, one of the best shows of its kind in the UK, boasting great comedy moments, adroit performers, and plenty of nipple tassels. For those unfamiliar with burlesque, a crude description could be halfway between striptease and cabaret.
We had booked standard seats for the show in the basement of Sway Bar, which put us in the corridor between the booths and the front row. An addition to the awkward layout were toilets on the other side of the queue, so I had to eke my out after our early arrival and apologize profusely as I wormed my way back in.
Another frustration was the drinks deals ending quarter-way through the performance, and some cooperation with the venue could have been appreciated on this front.
While the downstairs and basement area allow for some club fun, above ground the bar and restaurant area feels strangely clinical. There’s about as much atmosphere in the place as the hotel bar in The Shining. We tried out a wide range of cocktails, and if that crippled the bank balance they were at least well crafted and very drinkable.
The burlesque show was some great retrograde, slightly daring fun. Unfortunately, the music following felt bland and obvious, myself and my girlfriend waiting for something better until giving up and leaving the venue before ten.
I would certainly recommend the House of Burlesque if you’re looking for entertainment that can be both raunchy and inventive. As for Sway Bar, it’s the same underwhelming and dissociative night out that is all too common in the capital.