The History of Strip Clubs in Auckland

Stripping, as a form of adult entertainment, has been a part of human culture for centuries. However, its manifestation in Auckland, New Zealand, has seen a dynamic transformation, particularly over the past few decades. This article delves into the history and evolution of strip clubs in Auckland, tracing their roots from the mid-20th century to the present day.
The genesis of Auckland’s strip club scene can be traced back to the early 1960s. The Pink Pussycat, which opened its doors in 1963, holds the distinction of being New Zealand’s first dedicated strip club. Before this era, striptease acts were confined to risqué coffee bars, a subtle yet significant presence in the city’s nightlife.

By 1967, the landscape of adult entertainment in Auckland had begun to shift. Four strip clubs had established themselves in Auckland, with others appearing in Wellington and Christchurch. These establishments initially tried to blend dining with entertainment, serving meals alongside performances. However, the focus soon shifted entirely towards the stripping acts, driven by audience demand.

The evolution of strip clubs in Auckland paralleled societal and legal changes. Initially, performances were restrained, with regulations against full nudity and limited movement. It wasn’t until the early 1970s, following a court case regarding the musical ‘Hair,’ that complete nudity was permitted in New Zealand’s strip clubs.

Opposition to strip clubs in Auckland was not uncommon, mirroring the societal attitudes of the time. The proximity of clubs to public spaces and their association with prostitution sparked public debates and legal challenges. However, despite the controversies, strip clubs gradually became an accepted part of New Zealand’s nightlife.

The performers in these clubs, initially lacking formal dance training, brought a raw and authentic flavor to the industry. The 1960s also saw transgender performers taking the stage in Auckland, a progressive step in an otherwise conservative era. By the 1980s, the advent of male revues and groups like ‘Chippendales’ marked the introduction of male performers, diversifying the industry.

A significant shift in the strip club scene occurred in the mid-1990s with the introduction of new forms of adult entertainment. Showgirls, New Zealand’s first lap-dancing club, opened in Auckland, blurring the lines between stripping and other forms of adult interactions. This period also saw the emergence of pole dancing and burlesque, adding theatrical and athletic elements to the industry.

As we moved into the 21st century, the landscape of Auckland’s adult entertainment continued to evolve. A study in 2001 revealed the presence of 16 strip clubs in New Zealand, with a workforce of 179. The clubs varied in their presentation, from high-end establishments to traditional dives in red-light districts.

The decriminalization of sex work in 2003 had a notable impact on the industry. Some strip clubs began to incorporate associated brothels, reflecting a change in societal attitudes towards sex work and adult entertainment.

Today, Auckland’s strip clubs are a testament to the city’s evolving cultural and social landscape. From exotic dancers to male performers, and from risqué stag and hens parties to elegant gentlemen’s clubs, the industry continues to thrive, adapting to the changing tastes and norms of society.

In conclusion, the history of strip clubs in Auckland is not just a story of adult entertainment; it’s a narrative of societal change, legal evolution, and cultural adaptation. As we look towards the future, it’s evident that these establishments will continue to be a significant, though often controversial, part of Auckland’s vibrant nightlife.