A sinless city?

Three months into the county’s ban of amateurs on poles, platforms, go-go boxes

Polerinas: Clark County’s worst nightmare?
Shane O'Neal

Clark County has assumed the position. That position being against “lewd activity and nudity.” This much was made clear by an October 15, 2009 letter addressed to nightclub “Licensees, Owners, Managers, Key Employees and Security Personnel.” According to Clark County Public Information Officer Dan Kulin, the letters were hand-delivered to the management of every nightclub in the city and mailed to each resort hotel, specifically prohibiting “the use of dance poles, platforms, dance cages and stages by patrons.”

The two-page letter from Clark County Director of Business License Jacqueline Holloway—cc’d to the county’s commissioners, managers, the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Metro—also appends five pages of codes outlining the responsibilities of club owners to their patrons, codes Director Holloway must have felt it was necessary to reiterate following Privé Nightclub’s closure and censure late last summer. (That issue is still pending, with Privé applying every 90 days for temporary licenses end-on-end while Metro performs a background check on the Planet Hollywood tenant’s key personnel.)

So how has the nightlife community responded to the ban? The answer is, “What ban?!”

It was business as usual this past weekend as this ban turned three months old. At one club-o’-12-poles, bachelorettes in sashes and veils clung to these modern maypoles as much for balance as for performance sake, the bridesmaids (we’ll call them Lewd and Nude) trying out moves they learned earlier that day at the V Theater’s Stripper 101 class, perhaps.

We’re sending these ladies some mixed messages, no? Dance poles you cannot dance on? Catwalks you cannot walk on? I can just see the Chamber of Commerce campaign now: “Welcome to Sin City! What happens here happens pursuant to Clark County Code 8.20.475!” (That’s the one that says that ignorance of these regulations does not excuse one from breaking them.)

While it is customary to see men ordered down from poles and platforms, despite the odd off-color joke about a “weight limit,” most female patrons are allowed and even encouraged to try out their pole antics. From 2006 right up till the ban, amateur pole-dancing and go-go competitions were a staple in Vegas’ clubs thanks to Tao A-Go-Go and the granddaddy of them all, Light Group’s Pole-A-Palooza, which pitted serious polerinas against one another for $10,000. Of the competition’s future, a rep for Light Group says, “We’ll do it again when it’s time.” With penalties up to $1,000 per day for infractions, one hopes that time comes when the county has either modified, relaxed or abandoned altogether these regulations.

Fawnia Dietrich, owner of Vegas’ Pole Fitness Studio, has been teaching pole dancing for 15 years, four and a half of them in Vegas. Including her DVDs, Dietrich estimates that tens of thousands of women have acquired pole prowess thanks to her—myself included. Her combined fitness/dance studio offers pole-dancing lessons seven days a week. At the completion of their classes, Dietrich even encourages her students to hit the clubs and try out their new skills.

“Pole dancing is just a fun way to express yourself in a night club,” says Dietrich, “as long as it’s done safely and no one is flipping upside-down that shouldn’t be. … In a club, keep your feet below your head.” Sound advice to budding polerinas.

But Lewd and Nude aren’t the only ones getting mixed messages. Standing right next to however many poles or “lamps” the hot design company installed (and OSHA inspected), nightclub staffers were nonplused when I asked how they were faring during the ban. No manager, host or PR rep I spoke to was aware of the letter’s existence or its mandate.

My diagnosis: this is a witch hunt, and a mock one at that. The pole that ruffled feathers in the first place (Privé’s infamous Table 69) was in the club’s back-of-house area. Holloway’s letter additionally bans patrons from employee areas so as long as that bit is adhered to, Lewd and Nude should be allowed to grind on a pole just as they can grind on each other or a stranger on the dance floor, in their booth…

To be fair, I also asked Kulin how the county has been faring since the ban. “We’ve seen improvement in the nightclubs’ operations over the past six months,” he says of the time since Privé’s woes began: no clubs cited thus far. Funny thing is, Vegas now has more poles and platforms and go-go boxes than ever!

If a misguided ban is levied and no one is aware or enforcing it, does it even matter? Ladies, man your poles!


Previous Discussion:

  • Carl Cox stops by Encore Beach Club for Art of the Wild.

  • The competition will pit up to 30 DJs against one another to see who can perform the most cleverly crafted routine using scratch techniques, beat ...

  • “I see a lot of people showing they care about doing something, but I don’t feel like there’s a platform yet that really brings it ...

  • Get More Nightlife Stories
Top of Story