It was the first bar with nude male dancers in the country when it was founded April 14, 1980 by Mr. France Delisle, an ex-construction worker inspired to open the venue after visiting Miami's Crazy Horse, where he caught a rare glimpse of men stripping for an almost all-female crowd.
An Instant Success
Gaining instant popularity with women who at the time had no adult entertainment options geared to their needs, no one, including Delisle, could have predicted the extent of its impact.
Lineups were fierce, so much so that Club 281 stayed open 13 hours a day, seven days a week and expanded its operations to cover three floors instead of its original one just to keep up with demand. In its first three years, the club attracted one million and a half visitors, representing close to a third of its total clientele spanning three decades.
More than 30 years and over five million happy ladies later, Club 281 is now run by Delisle's youngest child, Annie, who was ten when the cabaret first opened, but for obvious legal reasons, only set foot in 281 when she turned 18.
Since she took over in 2003, Annie headed the move from 281's original location at 281 Ste. Catherine to its new venue a few blocks away, adding her own touch to the decor.
Annie also hired a stage director/choreographer to get inside the minds of their female clientele and improve the dances. For example, they successfully convinced dancers to stop slapping their butts as they undressed, a move which reportedly left some women mildly confused.
Annie also expanded the bar menu, offering a wider selection of martinis, port, wine, and champagne. Club 281's cabaret performances were also brought to a new production level for its thirtieth anniversary. Scenes were directed by a quartet of Quebec's leading artistic directors, dance choreographers, and stage actors.
Rules and Helpful Information
A lot has changed at 281 over the years but three cardinal rules dating from the club's inception remain:
- No physical contact between personnel and clientele is allowed
- No one may cut ahead of the line
- Men are welcome, though any man who wishes to enter the club must be accompanied by a woman (dress code for men is no baseball cap or sleeveless shirts)
How to Score Good Seats
Get there early if you want the best view, especially if ordering a V.I.P. package. It's recommended you arrive between 8:30 p.m.- 9 p.m. at the latest to get a choice table and avoid lineups. Unfortunately, no reservations are taken. It's first come first serve.
Special V.I.P. Packages
Ladies can surprise a friend with one of the following packages — no pun — on location:
- Regular: includes gift box, a dancer at your table, and souvenir picture
- Super: includes gift box, a dancer at your table, souvenir picture, and one bottle of sparkling wine
- Ultra: includes gift box, a dancer at your table, souvenir picture, one bottle of sparkling wine, and your friend gets to go onstage and be a part of the show
Note that packages are subject to change without notice.
Ideal for at-home bachelorette parties, rent your favorite 281 dancer for the equivalent of three songs (12-15 minutes) followed by a 20-minute chat and picture-taking (no nudity) session. Pricing starts at $300 for anywhere covering the Greater Montreal Area (as north as Mirabel and as south as St-Jean-sur-le-Richelieu, any further costs extra). Prices are subject to change without notice.
How to Get There
94 Ste. Catherine East, corner of de Bullion, two blocks East of St. Laurent. By subway, exit at St. Laurent Metro.