Luna Finn of the Hubba Hubba Revue performs. Credit: Bill Watters

Oakland is no stranger to the spectacle of cabaret or the risque fun of burlesque. With many venues shuttering their doors due to the pandemic, however, the local burlesque community lost mainstay shows like Fishnet Follies Classic Burlesque Revue and the Haus Serpens Cabaret. Manarchy, an all-male burlesque revue, recently made its return to 7th West.

Now, another Bay Area burlesque staple is set to return to Oakland: Hubba Hubba Revue will perform its “Valentine’s Cabaret” on Feb. 12 at Crybaby.

Hubba Hubba Revue’s “Valentine’s Cabaret”

Feb. 12, 2023 at 7 p.m.

Crybaby, 1928 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

Must be 21+ for entry

Tickets are $15 or $25. Table reservations and bottle packages are also available.

Until its doors closed in 2020, the Uptown Nightclub hosted the Revue’s monthly Saturday-night shows for the 21-and-over crowd, as well as its big-themed celebrations. “When it closed down during the pandemic, that was rough because we loved that place. That was our home,” said Jim Sweeney, the founder of Hubba Hubba. 

Since then, the Revue has put on weekly shows at San Francisco’s DNA Lounge, which will continue. But with Crybaby now operating where the Uptown Nightclub once stood, the group had an opportunity to return for a performance in Oakland. Like so many other performance troupes impacted by the pandemic, the Revue survived by organizing fundraisers and Patreon online performances. 

Sweeney co-founded the Revue in 2006 with friend and fellow stage performer Eddie Dane, who passed away some years later. Sweeny originally thought the Hubba Hubba Revue would be a one-time performance. But it continued with Sweeney as the organizer, producer, and master of ceremonies, oftentimes performing a skit during the opening act. 

Qu’in de la Noche of Hubba Hubba Revue. Credit: Philip Pavliger

The Revue has a history in the Bay Area that makes it special, Sweeney explained. “We have the advantage that Hubba has been around for so long, and become so integrated through other productions with a very broad expanse of performers,” he said. In 2019 at the Uptown Nightclub, the Revue hosted the California regional Burlypicks competition, an annual burlesque event drawing performers from across the state and beyond.

“We get performers from all over the world and they’re coming through the Bay Area—coming to Hubba because we’re known everywhere,” said Sweeney. Burlesque performers have come from as far away as Italy, Japan, and Spain, he said. 

While cabaret may bring to mind peep shows from yesteryear, Sweeney explains there’s more to the Hubba Hubba Revue that makes it unique. Over the years there have been Santas, Grinches, pregnant sun-worshipping belly dancers, tributes to Prince, saucy dancing pizzas, wizards, witches, and everything else the wardrobe can hold. 

“There’s some stuff that everybody can identify [with]” said Sweeney. 

Joining the performance in Oakland on Feb. 12 will be DAM (Dragons, Aliens, and Mermaids) Circus, a collective that gained recognition for its performance at Coachella in 2022. The Revue’s return will also feature a collection of Bay Area-based performers, including aerialist Luna Fin, iron-jaw aerialist Drago Nesa, pole performer Yoko Taketani, and other visual storytellers bringing the spectacle of flight to the cabaret. 

Hubba Hubba’s audience members have come to expect the unexpected. “The fact that we started off at the five-dollar show in Oakland—we always stayed very close to our roots,” said Sweeny. “No matter how big we got, we were always very close to where we started and are very close to our community.”

Brandy Collins is a writer and public services advocate, born and raised in the Bay Area. She is a 2019-2020 cohort graduate from the Maynard Institute for Journalism, a correspondent for Oakland Voices, a blogger, and the funny one in numerous group chats. She is concerned with civic engagement and leadership development toward making public works more efficient for the people. Brandy is full of Scorpio magic and a self-proclaimed Professional Aunty. Follow her on Twitter @MsBrandyCollins or Instagram @story_soul_collecter.