As one of the states with the lowest counts of coronavirus in the nation, Wyoming strip club “The Den” has cautiously reopened with a “masks on, clothes off” party.
USAToday reports Cleo counts out crumpled dollars, straightening the bills as she stacks them neatly on her bare leg.
“Twenty-two dollars,” the 23-year-old exclaims. “Not too bad!”
All around her, more than a dozen nearly naked women are dancing on the stage and swinging from a brass pole as music thumps and customers shower the dancers with money. It’s like any other night at this rural strip club on the Colorado-Wyoming border, with one notable exception: While the dancers are all wearing barely-there outfits, every one of them is wearing a mask.
Some are bandannas. Some are surgical masks. One looks as if it was swiped from a construction site. They’re a seemingly odd accessory for women wearing a mix of g-strings, bikinis and lingerie.
But this is the time of coronavirus, and following state rules, the women are wearing them as they feel out their first night back in business. For Cleo, that $22 is the first income she has earned in weeks. And she’s ready to make more, even if it brings her far closer to customers than the state’s 6-foot-social distancing guidelines.
“I feel like my makeup is sweating off under this thing,” she adds from behind her bandanna, then looks up as the music changes. “Oh, that’s my song. Gotta go.”
Cleo, who didn’t want her legal name used because of potential harassment, clambers up onto the stage and begins spinning around the pole, her 5-inch-high shoes banging together as she bends backward to rest both her feet and head on the floor to a scattering of cheers and whoops.
Welcome to The Den, one of the first strip clubs in the country to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. To celebrate its grand reopening, the club threw a “masks on, clothes off” party Friday night.
Because Wyoming has had so few coronavirus cases, state health officials on Friday allowed most businesses to reopen, including sit-down restaurants and bars, which is how The Den is licensed. Likely due to its large size and small population, Wyoming has had few coronavirus cases. Officials say they’ve confirmed just 541 cases, with another 175 listed as probable, and only seven deaths.
“I’m super-excited. I’m a little nervous because the virus is still out there, but I’m glad to be able to go to work, because a lot of people can’t yet,” says dancer Doris Craig, 20, between performances. “The stimulus money was nice, but that’s going to run out, and I don’t like to feel like I’m dependent on the government.”