Nightlife Guide: Dancing for the Derby

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Photo by Edward Neary

While the slow extinction of gentleman’s clubs in the downtown area may make some folk blue, Derby fans still have options when it comes to more adult-centric dance entertainment. Since a conglomeration of clubs lost a legal battle with metro government a few years back, stiffer city laws forbid actual nudity in the clubs, but ladies are still shaking their money-makers at a variety of locations.

Just a couple miles down the road from the Downs is a neighborhood they sometimes call Lively Shively. The many bright neon signs beckon, with names like Diamonds Cabaret, Doll House, Fantasy’s Island Lounge and the Thorobred Lounge.

The Thorobred Lounge seems particularly suited to a celebration or horses, as its neon sign is complimented by equine-themed statuary, and its marquee currently says “Welcome Derby Fans.”

Inside the spacious club, the long glossy stage has multiple poles reaching from the floor to the ceiling. There are more covert booths and a champagne room. Private dances start at $20 and get more expensive depending on how long they go.

Buying a drink for a dancer will cost another Tubman, pardon me, Jackson, and the dancer you buy it for will sit and chat with you while you drink.

The Thorobred will be open for an impressive 72 hours straight this Derby season, from Friday through to Sunday.

Fair warning: The club is leery of unaccompanied women. On a recent visit, a lady friend of mine who was coming to experience the Shively side of things arrived before I did, and she was told she couldn’t buy drinks without a male escort. And then she was unable to find any of her drinks of choice on hand. With no white wine, she had to settle for a screwdriver.

That screwdriver was $10, and it wasn’t cause of the quality of the vodka or orange juice. But they do have a running special on $3 shots of Jack Daniels. The purist in me wants to throw shade at a horse racing-themed club that serves Tennessee whiskey, but I guess you get what you pay for.

Just a few blocks down the road is the less Derby-centric Doll House. After my adventures at Thorobred, my friends were up for another club, and we chose the Doll House at random. The action heats up at the Doll House around midnight, and while it won’t be open for 72 hours straight, it is expecting a huge Derby crowd.

There are other clubs around town you could visit: from PT’s Showclub downtown, known as the nice strip club, to The Rustic Frog across the river, where the looser Indiana laws allow a more comprehensive show of skin.

If you choose a strip club for your Oaks or Derby fun, remember to keep your hands to yourself, treat the dancers with respect and take plenty of cash: The ATM fees at those places are murder.•

Deja Vu Showgirls 3421 Taylor Blvd., 367-9899

Diamonds Cabaret 3212 Seventh Street Road, 636-9113

Doll House 3608 Seventh Street Road, 380-9020

Fantasy’s Island Lounge 3624 Seventh Street Road, 749-7170

Foxy Lady 1715 Berry Boulevard, 366-3273

The Godfather 5000 Preston Highway, 968-3555

Rustic Frog 1720 Old River Road, New Albany, (812) 590-2620

PT’s Showclub 227 E. Market St., 587-7878

Thorobred Lounge 3634 Seventh Street Road, 749-7747