Though some parts of the country can’t even open restaurants at 25% capacity, let alone bars, it seems like things truly are wild out west. Two weeks ago, Utah lifted many of its COVID-related restrictions, which allowed bars — and, yes, strip clubs — to reopen at 100% capacity. In Salt Lake City, that means that six clubs are now operating, albeit in a very different format than in the pre-COVID days.

VICE visited three of those clubs, and on May 14 they posted a story featuring interviews and photos from these clubs. According to the article, here are the rules being enforced at the Salt Lake clubs:

• Those with temperatures above 99 are denied entry.

• Customers must stay six feet apart from dancers, employees, and other patrons (unless, presumably, they’re part of a group that came in together).

• Mask must remain on at all times except when drinking.

• Customers cannot come within six feet of the stage other than to place tip money around the edge. Once that money is placed down, customers must immediately return to their seat.

Here’s an excerpt from the VICE story:

“Inside Trails, the LED lights surrounding the stage shine extra bright due to the absence of patrons sitting around the tip rail (the counter immediately next to the stage). At the end of each performance, a masked employee dutifully uses a Swiffer to remove the dollar bills from the stage (where they will then be counted and handled by a separate gloved employee) while another sterilizes the performing area in preparation for the next masked dancer.

“All dancers, despite being at least six feet from patrons, are required to wear face masks.

“There is a poetic irony as the callipygous, surgically perfected women danced to Future’s hit song ‘Mask Off’ as the DJ periodically reminded patrons to keep apart and wash their hands.”

The story goes on to reference a club called The Den which is located just outside of Salt Lake City. Dancers at this club must still wear masks and are not allowed to touch the cash, but patrons do not have to wear masks. The club’s front door security guard records names and phone numbers of everyone who comes in “in case of an outbreak.”

“People have money to spend. They just got their stimulus checks and they think that they’re getting ready to go back to work.” – Bartender Morgan at The Den outside Salt Lake City, as told to VICE

Wondering what their customer count is like in the post-COVID world?
Morgan, a bartender at The Den, estimates that their club is about 60 percent fuller than usual, a number that was echoed by the staff at Trails.

“People have money to spend,” Morgan told VICE. “They just got their stimulus checks and they think that they’re getting ready to go back to work.”

Dancers, not surprisingly, are not making as much in tips as they had previously. Some dancers suggest that this is because they are wearing masks, and can’t “smile” at customers.

The VICE story concludes this way:

“For now, club owners and employees appear to be navigating the new world order while also maintaining a precarious balance between playing party host and health code enforcer. Everyone I speak to stresses the importance of remaining vigilant and doing their part to stop the spread of the virus.

“At Trails, a burly bouncer walks over and gently reminds two women not to stray too far from their table, slightly dampening the typical conviviality that accompanies the establishment on any given Friday night in mid-spring.

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