The London Pub Strippers Of The 1960s

Vintage film footage of a 1960s striptease show in a London pub.

The days of the pub stripper are long over, crushed by licencing laws, changing tastes, moral panics and the rise of the lap-dancing club (which is itself now in a seemingly terminal decline). There’s still the odd survivor here and there, most notably The Griffin in Clerkenwell, but many of the legendary venues – The Flying Scotsman in Kings Cross, The White Horse in Shoreditch – have gone, crushed by the requirement for a Sex Entertainment Licence that local councils can refuse for the most vacuous of reason. But from the 1960s until the last few years, pubs and working men’s clubs up and down the country hosted striptease shows, either nightly, at weekends or simply as special events, where punters would pay a pound (by today’s standards; presumably less in the olden days) a performance and everything was rough and ready. These shows were a million miles away from the sterile and glossy world of the lap dancing bar, though several pubs eventually evolved into full-time lap dancing venues during the 1990s and 2000s. The lap dancing club tended to be the domain of leering city boys, eager to pay through the nose for controlled private shows as a way of showing how much money they made. Strip pubs were a more egalitarian affair where working men (almost always men – often, women were not even allowed into the pup when the shows were on) could enjoy a bit of titillation before going back to the daily grind of their awful jobs.

This clip, filmed at an unidentified pub, comes from an apparently unfinished documentary about the East End in 1963. There’s no original sound and no nudity, but it’s a fascinating time capsule of days gone by, when pub strippers were a new and exciting thing, and when everyone still wore a suit, shirt and tie on a night out.

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  1. As a young projectionist in the mid 1970’s…at a Tatler Club in Byker,Newcastle and occasionally at the city centre main cinema, I would be expected to ‘run’ the lights for the strippers between the films, ‘The Stripper In The Interval’ it was known. Quite a daunting task…especially if you slipped up a bit and shone the spotlight a fraction longer than requested. But now gone forever of course!

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