For strip clubs owners, especially Club Unique, Ikeja, Lagos, which still parades young ladies who dance nude to the delight of its teeming patrons, it is no longer business as usual.
The club, which was re-opened early last year by the State House of Assembly in Lagos, after it was shut down alongside three other notorious clubs is presently witnessing a dull moment. The situation has necessitated the management of the club to embark on an awareness campaign to win back most of its run-away patrons.
A visit to the club last week revealed this much. Despite the seeming changes that have taken place at the club in terms of identity and structure, the fact remains that business has not kicked off properly at the club, more than a year after it was reopened.
The club, situated along Ogundana street, just off the high brow Allen Avenue, in Ikeja, consists of a single hall and bars which were clustered nearly everyday in the past by dozens of guests.
Its present predicament stems from the fact that many of the patrons of the night club are skeptical, in respect of the possible raiding of the place again by the special Lagos State Task Force on environment.
Saturday Vanguard observed while at the night club that skimpily dressed go-go dancers, whose regular performances are the major attraction of the night club, were entertaining few a audience, as against what it used to be in the recent past, when prominent Nigerians thronged the popular club to feed their eyes on the tender bodies of these young dancers.
Before the closure, the daily shows usually would start around 8 p m and would get to its crescendo around 11 p.m when the hall would be filled to the brim. The belly dancers covered their bodies with only panties and would gradually undress as they danced around a pole. But this is no longer obtainable as the club is presently witnessing a dull moment.
Mr Tony Ojo, owner of the club, has every reason to blame the recent challenges facing the club on the unmitigated closure. The club, according to Ojo, was recently duped over N28 million following a property it purchased within the neighbourood and which later, turned out to be a property in dispute.
“It is not an easy task to convince our customers to come back. We need to create a lot of awareness and to convince them that all is well. That’s why it has become necessary that we engage the services of the media to reach out to our numerous customers. For now, business has been very slow,” Ojo narrated.
Lamenting that since the club was reopened early last year, business has been very slow, the Edo State born club owner said, “we have been trying as much as possible to enure that we win back our customers. We are still struggling to get back to our feet.”
Ojo said he has taken the initiative to show their customers a letter of authority issued to the club owners by the Lagos State House of Assembly, where they have promised never to clampdown on the clubs. Also, the management of these clubs are doing everything possible to make their customers feel at home each time they come to the night clubs.
Narrating some of the ordeals they went through while the closure lasted, Ojo said that most of the nude dancers were terribly affected by the closure because “they have no other means of livelihood.
“When the club was shut down, most of the nude girls felt it terrible because this is what they do for a living. Some of them were students who raise money through this means to pay their school fees and take care of their own needs. We also have single mothers who feed their families based on what they make from here and the less-privileged girls. It was really bad for them during that period,” he further narrated.
However, contrary to the belief that these girls are inducted into the unholy practice, Ojo hinted that some of them come to the club to signal their interest to be part of the dancers. “When you are coming here for the first time, we have to first and foremost confirm that you are of age.We don’t allow under-aged girls to be part of the dancers. It’s a voluntary thing, nobody compels anybody to be a dancer here. Besides, they apply to us that they want to be part of the dancers. We have their personal information.”
Describing the strippers as “professional dancers”, he added that they come from far and near places to carry out their trade at the club on daily basis. Also, explaining why he decided to set up the club, the Edo State born club owner said it was as a result of the need to prevent well-placed Nigerians from travelling abroad to patronise strip clubs over there.
Refusing to see anything wrong with the club, he said “strip clubs are everywhere around the world. Well-to-do Nigerians travel out of this country to patronise strip clubs. They feel the only way they can reduce stress after toiling day and night in Nigeria is by patronising strip clubs abroad. I have seen them in other countries.
“I just felt that instead of them to take our money out of the country, it would be better for us to set up a similar club in the country. That’s what motivated me to to set up the club. I have run the club for five years and most of my members are well-meaning Nigerians.
“Most of our members are highly placed men and women in society. Highly placed women in society do come to the club on a regular basis . Some of them would come here with their husbands. There is nothing wrong with it. I have seen so many couples who patronise the club and at the end of the day, the wife would compliment us for doing a great job here.”
Saturday Vanguard gathered that apart from being regulated, strip clubs owners at the moment are paying taxes to the Lagos State government, meaning that they are doing a genuine business.
Meanwhile, one of the strippers who spoke to Saturday Vanguard admitted that poverty drove her into participating in the trade. Claiming that she is a student of Federal Polytchnic, Nekede, Owerri, the young nude dancer said she came from a poor background, adding that the only way she could see herself through her education was by getting involved in nude dance.
Other nude clubs that were shut down in 2009, alongside Club Unique are also struggling to remain in business. They are Wallstreet, Magic City and Cazzbah. Wall Street is also located on Allen Avenue while Solid Gold formerly Ocean Blue, is located at Opebi while Cazzbah is also at Opebi .
The clubs were closed by the Lagos State Task Force for operating strip clubs in residential areas without permit. Two managers and 33 dancers were arrested and paraded. But the dancers were released after the state lawmakers said that there was nothing illegal about the business.