Review: Tassels and Tabletop (Nerd Girl Burlesque)

Enjoy burlesque on the stage, and then play boardgames every month in Toronto

Photo of Delicia Pastiche holding green fans
On the third Thursday of every month, Toronto is treated to the delightful combination of burlesque and boardgames with Tassels and Tabletop, presented by Nerd Girl Burlesque.

The night begins with a lively burlesque show, which is followed by a giant mountain of board games being brought out for the board game social. It takes place at The Handlebar in Kensington Market, where my show-partner Robin and I enjoyed some delicious food and cocktails while watching the show—if you’re going the cocktail route, I highly recommend the Paloma, as it was delicious.

The show itself was playful, and a great showcase of local talent. I have to admit, I was a bit in love with the host/MC, Reddy. She was charming, charismatic, and a perfect choice for tying together all the acts of the evening. In my experience, the MC of a burlesque show makes a huge difference in how the piece feels overall, and Reddy was fantastic.

For those who have never been to a burlesque show before, this is a perfect place to get your feet wet. It’s an intimate venue, and the whole feeling is very laid-back. Reddy opens the evening with a quick overview of how things work, which basically boils down to having lots of fun and making lots of noise to show your appreciation.

It was Robin’s first experience with burlesque, and when I asked him what he thought of the show and how it was compared to his expectations, he had so much feedback he could have basically written this piece himself. The standout comments for me, though, were the ones focused on expectations versus reality.

Since burlesque originates from an old-fashioned tradition, he was expecting something a bit more formal, perhaps even uptight. He said he really liked that it still had an old-fashioned vibe, but also had a bit of an underground aesthetic to it, which made it feel more accessible. He also enjoyed that it had a kind of indie grassroots feeling that was sexy, but also really playful. Overall, it struck a really nice balance for him.

The thing is, I agree wholeheartedly with everything he said. I love big production burlesque shows like the ones Les Coquettes used to put on at Revival, but this was a lovely evening. The intimate venue really made me feel connected to the performers. The performers seemed to be having a blast up there, and that kind of energy is contagious.

Tassels and Tabletop is also a great showcase of local talent. On the night we went, in addition to two members of Nerd Girl Burlesque, there were four other women featured, including the always amazing Tanya Cheex, pioneer of the Toronto burlesque scene, and new-to-me Pearl Incognita giving us the sexiest Carmen Sandiego I’ve ever encountered.

The bottom line is this is a damn fun night. And people know it: the place was full. People who buy advanced tickets get to sit in chairs directly in front of the stage. Other folks just find space where they can throughout the bar. If you’re buying at the door, I recommend getting there right at 7:30 when they start selling the tickets, or arrive even earlier and enjoy one of the aforementioned cocktails while you wait. The next show is this Thursday (April 16, 2015) and I really recommend checking it out, because it’s a blast.



  • Tassels and Tabletop plays the 3rd Thursday of every month at The Handlebar (159 Augusta Ave)
  • Showtime is 8pm and is followed by a board game social
  • Tickets are $10 and available online (this gets priority seating) or at the door


Photo of Delicia Pastiche provided by Photolena