Happy go-go lucky
Go-go dancers in Reno clubs get the party started
In the past, it was primarily the DJ’s job to set the tone for a night at a club with an ongoing music selection. While DJs still play a major role in the club scene, go-go dancers are also party starters, helping would-be wallflowers get out of the background and on to the dance floor.
Go-go dancers got their start doing just that in the ’60s. They were gregarious, scantily clad women wearing go-go boots, who hopped up on tables and danced the twist. Club promoters saw the entertainment value in good-looking women with rhythm and hired them for amusement and ambience.
Go-go dancing has come in and gone out of fashion, but it has had a revival in recent years. Now party-goers can walk into almost any club in Reno and see attractive girls pulsating to a beat onstage in outrageous costumes.Dance dance revolution
Local dancer and entrepreneur Suzie Cue has been involved in the world of go-go for the past five years.[Editor’s note: This dancer has since moved on to a profession that deals with children, so as not to hurt her chances at a job, and due to the ubiquity of the internet, we’ve changed her name on July 25, 2012.]
“People come in, and they want the atmosphere,” says Cue. “That’s why it’s important, because people vibe off of you.”
Cue is a petite, 31-year-old brunette who probably still gets carded at bars because she looks 10 years younger. Originally from Orange County, Calif., she ended up in Reno after her grandmother brought her away from an unhealthy family situation to raise her in Nevada. She started go-go dancing when she was 27 after going to 210 North and watching their girls dance.
“I totally could do that,” she thought.
Cue, whose only training in dance was jazz and ballet as a girl, got in for an audition, landed a spot and fell in love with her job. Now she dances at Extreme in the Grand Sierra Resort and also spotlights at Harrah’s, Blue in Tahoe and the Jack Daniel’s tent at the rodeo. She says she’s seen the popularity of go-go dancing rise in the past few years and witnessed its potential to transform a room into a different world, depending on the music and the costumes.
“Before, it was the DJ creating atmosphere,” she says of the club scenes in Reno. But with go-go dancing, “It’s the girls building energy. Now people expect it. You are selling that image.”
At Extreme, the dancers come down from their onstage platforms and interact with the club’s cover band, Audioboxx.
“We get down and dance with the band,” says Cue. “They will play that ‘Crazy Bitch’ song, kind of their signature song, and there is a lot of grabbing onto them, throwing our hands up and tossing our hair.”
At first it was odd dancing to a cover band that plays songs by the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Sublime and Green Day, in part because contemporary go-go dancing is often associated with hip hop.
“Who go-gos to Rage Against the Machine?” she asks. “Well, we do now.”
Go-go dancing allows dancers to have an alter ego to express themselves in different ways.
“When I’m doing go-go dancing, everybody’s tuned out, I’m somebody else,” says Cue.
Go-go dancing is exciting for viewers, as well, not only because it can bring a room to life, but also because the audience gets to participate in something borderline voyeuristic.
“It’s almost crossing that line, but it’s not,” says Cue. “It’s suggestive, but it’s not like a strip club, where that line is crossed.”Save the last dance
It’s an act of courage for women to get up on a stage scantily clad and dance while admirers and onlookers watch unabashedly, but not everyone appreciates what go-go dancers can do for a party.
“You get a lot of different perceptions,” she says. “There is always a negative aspect. You get girls with snide comments who say, ‘I would never do that,’ or you get people who talk shitty to you, or proposition you. You have to know that is going to happen. You’re putting yourself out there, and you are a sex symbol for that night. There are times I’ve had people grab me. They think because you are there that you are going to act a certain way. They are being presumptuous.”
But then she gets a lot of people who wish they could get up there and dance with her, and that is part of the appeal for Cue.
“You obviously get critics,” she says. “But it’s always those people who come up and say nice things that are rad because I think it means you’re really secure with yourself, too, that you can appreciate what someone else is doing.”
Cue also dances in her time off because she just can’t get away from the rush and the release of moving to music.
“I guess I would be a total dance floor junkie,” she says.
Some dancers can get caught up in the wild club scene and can lose sight of what go-go dancing’s true purpose is—entertainment. Cue, however, is able to distinguish her go-go dancer self from her home life.
“I come, I work, I leave,” she says.
Ashley Langus is a go-go dancer, nanny and a full-time student. She has danced alongside Cue for over a year, and she attributes Cue’s success not just to her talent and beauty but also to her maturity.
“She’s the most responsible person I know,” says Langus. “She’s like my big sister.”
Langus agrees with Cue that go-go dancing is a sure-fire way to get the crowd involved. “Sometimes it’s like high school: girls on one side and boys on the other. It gets the party started.”
Cue treats go-go dancing as a business venture and wants to capitalize on the opportunities with her company, Suburban Celebrity, a promotional group and dancer and modeling agency.
Cue realizes that she won’t be able to go-go dance forever, but for now she revels in being one of those rare people who finds her own work-life irresistible.
“It’s about loving what you do,” she says. “I feel guilty when I go to work. People don’t love what they do, usually. Not like this.”
Cue has an almost animalistic need to move to music, and that is what go-go dancing is—dancing in its rawest form. Cue is going to dance for as long as she can, because for her, it is more than just a job or a profession.
“It’s a passion,” she says. “It releases endorphins, and you’re just out there smiling.”