Behind the curtains
The story of the Club 281 begins in Miami, where Mr. France Delisle visited the Crazy Horse bar. The bar offered a rare form of entertainment: onstage, men performed a striptease, to the delight of a mostly female clientele.
Owner of the Café Abitibi for ten or so years, Mr. Delisle decided to change the vocation of his South American-flavoured dance bar to make it a male strip bar, male strippers in those days being referred to as “go-go boys”. A month and a half later, once all the legalities were taken care of, he placed an ad in the newspaper: nude dancers wanted. He wondered who would want to dance in the buff. To his astonishment, over 75 men showed up for the first audition. “Women’s lib” was in the air, and women were asserting themelves and laying their claims. In fact, a march gathering over 100,000 women took place on St. Catherine Street. Without being contrived, the occasion was nonetheless apt for the 281 to officially open its doors (281 was the civic address of the establishment). Wednesday, April 14, 1980 thus marked the beginning of a special rapport between women and this bar, which in a sense became the symbol of the liberated woman.
From the start, its success was overwhelming. Throngs of women, young and not so young, crowded the doors of the Club for the chance to experience this new form of entertainment. The daily queues lead to the opening of a second and even a third floor within a matter of months. Open from 2 p.m. to 3 a.m., 7 days a week, the 281 welcomed over 1.5 million women during its first three years alone.
Since its inception, the Club’s governing rules – no physical contacts are allowed with any member of personnel, no one is allowed to cut in front of the line-up and men are welcomed only when accompanied by a woman – have contributed to its success. Creating a venue where women are treated like queens and where they feel safe, at home and amongst themselves.
Shock waves reverberated throughout the media in 1993 when it was revealed that the building housing the 281 was sold to l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM). Nothing about the club’s concept changed, but l’UQÀM became the only university in the world to have a strip club on campus.
After being closed a few months to allow its relocation, the highly expected reopening of the New 281 took place on January 15, 2004. Its new location, 94 Ste-Catherine Street East, is the former address of the renouned Casa Loma cabaret. With nearly double the seating capacity, the new version of the bar—now managed by the founder’s daughter Annie Delisle—offers more professional and sensual shows, in a decor both contemporary and warm.
And it’s just as crazy as ever! Check out the impressive lineups every weekend of eager women from the four corners of the globe. They’re coming for the ultimate in sensuality, heat and euphoria—generated by performances by the sexiest hunks in Quebec.