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Burlesque Show Nashville (first timer’s ultimate guide)


Looking for a Burlesque show in Nashville? Skull’s located in Printer’s Alley in downtown Nashville is a top choice. The restaurant features jazz music nightly and on Friday and Saturday nights a Burlesque show is at 11:00 pm.

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While you cannot make reservations for this Nashville burlesque show , you can make late dinner reservations and stay for the show. 

What is Skull’s Rainbow Room? 

Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, Skull’s Rainbow room is a bar, restaurant, burlesque show venue and live music venue. Skull’s opened in 1948 and got it’s name from owner’s David “Skull” Schulman. It is both legendary for the musical acts that have performed there like Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan  and infamous for the sordid past. Owner David Schulman was murdered there in 1998. The bar was closed until 2015. 

What should I wear to a Burlesque show in Nashville at Skull’s Rainbow Room?

Truly whatever you feel comfortable in is fine. When I visited around 8:30 pm for the Burlesque show I saw people wearing jeans and sneakers to a full on sequin dress. So it just depends on how you want to dress. I wore black jeans, boots and a metallic sleeveless top. Bring a jacket because we were freezing all night long in “the pit”.

Is there a cover charge to see the burlesque show Nashville at Skull’s Rainbow Room? 

Image Credit: Skulls Rainbow Room

Skull’s says they begin charging a cover of $20 at 9:00 pm. We noticed that people started crowding in shortly after 9 pm to claim their space for the Burlesque show.. The funny thing is my husband visited Skull’s last October and was one of the first in line around 8:15 but they only allowed guests with dinner reservations inside. Despite getting there quite early he ended up paying the cover charge of twenty dollars which seems a bit unfair. I did reach out to the Skulls in Nashville for clarification but they never responded. 

How long does this Nashville Burlesque show last?

The burlesque show begins at 11:00 pm and lasts about 45 minutes. There were two dancers who did two sets each.

Should I make reservations for Skull’s Rainbow Room for dinner?

Emphatically, YES, if you want to sit down for the burlesque show. If you visit their website, it does state that they only take reservations two weeks in advance. But when I went to book on OpenTable it said that no reservations were available. Seems like they block off peak times and force you to email the restaurant directly. I requested a table in the pit for the burlesque show  (this is the one with premium views of the stage) and while they said they don’t guarantee it, I got one. NOTE: Skull’s Rainbow Room in Nashville will not accept reservations for the burlesque show specifically. 

Pros and cons of this Burlesque Show in Nashville

Fabulous live music at Skull’s during the Burlesque show

Not only do they have singers performing nightly at Skull’s But for the Burlesque show on the weekends at this Nashville hot spot, they have a band Alley Cat, that performs hits from the 70s and 80s while the burlesque dancers are on stage. The vocals were wonderful, even better than the performers themselves. 

Lamb chops at Skull’s Rainbow Room

Excellent food at Skulls in Nashville! 

The menu seems to remain unchanged at Skull’s. But what they do, they do well, albeit pricey. A lobster bisque and eggplant topped with shrimp and creole sauce was delicious to start. And my lamb chops were sensational. The portion was huge and I do recommend splitting it if you are going to get a couple appetizers as these were four double chops. 

Dinner and burlesque show during your Nashville visit

Though dinner and drinks are pricey (I mean, don’t even come to Nashville if you don’t have a ton to spend), it seems like they build the price of their burlesque show into the food and drinks. Our server kept trying to rush us through dinner but we were leisurely enjoying our meal trying to pace it out for the show. We asked if we were okay to keep sitting there and she said it was a two hour limit but we were okay. I’m still unsure what the true policy is. 

First timer’s guide to a Nashville Burlesque show

Known in Nashville for Burlesque at Skulls’ Rainbow Room 

People come from all over to visit Nashville and see their burlesque dancers. The emcee did tell us that the performers that evening perform all around the United States. And one was even a bona fide circus performer. 

This Nashville Burlesque Show is perfect for celebrations

People from all over had come to celebrate their birthday or bachelorette party at Skull’s. There were people from San Antonio, Boston and Miami there celebrating 

Cons of this Nashville Burlesque Show at Skull’s

Hard to make / secure reservations for dinner before the Nashville Burlesque Show

Skull’s Rainbow Room is extremely popular and while my communication with staff was friendly they certainly don’t make securing a reservation easy (ie you can’t book through OpentTable even though they instruct you to do that on their site). The process of how to get a good table for the burlesque show is about as clear as mud. The seating to view the sage and catwalk for burlesque is not that huge (I would guess about a dozen tables ranging from 2-toppers to a few large group tables. They have seating that goes all the way to the book of the restaurant. 

Bad drinks at Skull’s (not conducive to a fun Burlesque show experience in Nashville)

With a menu that has been around for quite some time, I was extremely disappointed with their signature cocktail that I ordered. I expected more for $18. I’d recommend just ordering something you know you like and not buying into the hype. 

Watered down expensive drinks at this Burlesque show

Pushy emcees begging for tip money for the Nashville Burlesque Show

Probably the biggest turnoff of all at Skull’s Rainbow Room during the burlesque show was how pushy the emcee was. I think there was more time spent telling us how we needed to tip, than actually dancing from the dancers. Keep in mind, parking is crazy expensive in Nashville -we paid $40. If you are paying a cover to get in, that’s another $40 for a couple. Maybe if they gave better drinks, people would be looser with their money? 

Not much variety for “the best” Burlesque show in Nashville

There were only two dancers during the evening for the burlesque show. I thought they were pretty good, but if you are expecting curvy women, you might not find them here. Also, while none of the actual staff was wearing masks, the dancers were, which was odd. Skull’s didn’t respond to my request for that reasoning either.  

Expensive meal at Skull’s in Nashville

When we booked our reservation at Skull’s we fully intended to enjoy ourselves and not look at the prices. While the portions are huge, so are the prices. Our total with tip for 2 appetizers, 2 entrees and 2 drinks was $214. I didn’t mind so much because I did enjoy the entertainment.

If you find yourself in Nashville, and are looking for an entertaining dinner and a show with some fantastic live music, Skull’s is worthy of your time. Take the information above about the burlesque show in Nashville and let it set your expectations for what to expect.

About the author

Malika Bowling

Malika is the author of several books including Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More! and the founder of Roamilicious. She is also a Digital Marketing and Social Media Consultant. Follow us @Roamilicious on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for the content not shared on the blog. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter (subscribe box below) and never miss a contest, giveaway or the latest must visit restaurant!