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Bar top Burlesque meets L.A. at London Underground


One step into London Underground gives guests a feel of the dream that owner Jess Clyde set into motion nine years ago. The English-themed pub is decorated in British memorabilia including a classic red telephone booth.

Bar top Burlesque features music and performers from across the United States. This month features Diamondback Annie from Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 28.

Bar top Burlesque features music and performers from across the United States. This month features Diamondback Annie from Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 28.

“Our niche is that we are the only bar in town without televisions,” said Mara Spooner, a bartender at London Underground in Ames.

With a large number of craft beers and nearly 40 different whiskeys, London Underground prides itself in being the neighborhood pub where anyone and everyone can be a regular. But it has become much more than that.

Bar top Burlesque has found a home at London Underground, featuring dancers from the Iowa School of Burlesque and all around the country.

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Phoenix L’Amour started the Iowa School of Burlesque in 2011, and the school has flourished since opening in its new location in downtown Ames. Pepper Dupree, Mara Spooner and Nate Logsdon all have had their hands in the works of the school as owners. It focuses on burlesque instruction and provides a home for those wanting to learn the art and history of burlesque.

About a year and a half ago, London Underground teamed up with the Iowa School of Burlesque — and that’s when the magic started. The last Monday of every month is a night reserved for Bar Top Burlesque. Two dancers and a live musician are featured and perform right on top of the cozy pub’s bar.

Musicians from every genre and dancers from around the country perform at the London Underground, but this month is even more special. Diamondback Annie, a traveling rock burlesque performer from Los Angeles, and Leo Laflash, a 2012 graduate from the Iowa School of Burlesque, will be the headliners on Monday, Dec. 28.

As the last Bar Top Burlesque of the year, performers and owners alike are hoping to go out with a bang. The performers will begin their show atop the bar at 10 p.m. The show will also have raffle items and maybe a few surprises for guests.

Spooner’s relationship with the Iowa School of Burlesque started back in 2014 when the school began its relationship with the Underground.

“I got to be great friends with Phoenix over this bar. We both went through shitty breakups at the same time and got to be buddies because of that,” said Spooner. “Just about a year ago, the Iowa School of Burlesque was going through a transition, and I was going through a professional transition and needed something to do with my time.”

BellyUpPhoto_Dec17Now as a co-owner, Spooner has her hands in almost every aspect of the school. As it has grown, Spooner has helped with the organization and development of the school as well as the performances.

“I perform as The Governess, my stage name. I host or I emcee all of their shows that aren’t Bar Top Burlesque,” said Spooner.

The school has really taken off within the past year. In the past, the school taught one class of 4 people in a year to now having 2 classes a year with dozens of graduates.

“To apply, you have to want it,” said Spooner. An application for the school is open for a month and lets anyone 21 and older apply. Who knows — maybe you’ll be the next one on top of the Underground’s bar. CV

London Underground

212 Main St., Ames, 233-8500
Mon. – Thurs. 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Fri. – Sat. 3 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Sun. 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.

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