10 Offbeat Circuses


Cirque Berzerk

Cirque Berzerk performs on stage at the Los Angeles opening night at Club Nokia.
Start with a typical circus and add equal parts burlesque and goth aesthetics and you have Cirque Berzerk. Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Cirque Berzerk is a Los Angeles outfit that is half circus, a quarter burlesque, a quarter goth Moulin Rouge — and all full spectacle. Although the acts themselves might not seem that different from a regular circus, it's a highly stylized, cool-kid version that takes on a darker, edgier look. Like a Cirque du Soleil kind of performance, Cirque Berzerk has an overarching narrative that guides the story of the performances, but each act is also pretty impressive in its own right, from fire performances to acrobatics to cheeky cabaret.

The original Cirque Berzerk started at Burning Man in 2005, the annual desert retreat for alternative communal culture [source: Cirque Berzerk]. So it's probably no surprise that Cirque Berzerk draws heavily on the counter-culture aesthetic to give its shows an edge. From costumes that are more titillating than figure skater's and music that's more punk than pokey organ, Cirque Berzerk even has an after-hours lounge for all-night drinking and carousing. In other words, this is not baby's first circus so don't go expecting goofy, sweet clowns and lovable elephants.