It’s also exotic dancer night on the Island.
By 3:30 p.m., they’re drifting into the Edgewater Bar for the show. Central High School seniors and factory workers.
Senior citizens hobbling on canes and farmers straight from the dairy barn. A smattering of women. The Wednesday
night Goodhue-Pierce pool league.
The Edgewater is the only spot on the Island – or practically all of Pierce and Goodhue counties, for that matter –
where such entertainment is featured. So-called exotic dancers have been three-night-a-week features here for about
the past five years, according to owner Tom Johnson.
Some of the men come alone, hunching themselves over small round tables and a bottle of beer near the back of the
bar. Others, clustering together, snuggle up to the runway for a closer look, and a chance for some personal attention.
Wednesday’s “attraction” was Diane (she doesn’t reveal her last name while working), a 26-year-old Minneapolis
At quarter-to-nine promptly, she hopped onto the stage and tossed her flowered overshirt into a corner as the first of
her jukebox picks, Marvin Gaye’s soul standard, “I heard it Through the Grapevine,” began.
For her first set, she wore a fringed bikini and body jewelry. Later, she’d trade that for a flowing, diaphanous gown with
a high cellar.
She had long nearly-black hair that framed an expressive, intelligent face. Talking frequently to her audience (“You
can see how much I ate today, petting her tummy. “I really showed down.”), she picked up the tempo with “Sugar
Shack.” She unhooked the front of her bra and teased a little with “Rub It In.”
The surprisingly, she slowed down the pace with her fourth, “Gentle Stranger.” The words were personal, but the
performance was clearly for the general public.
|On stage she becomes a celebrity
Exotic dancers liven Island scene
By Bobbie Lieberman, Staff Writer
Red Wing Republican Eagle, February 13, 1976, pg. 1 & 3
Diane kicked off her fringed panties.
* * *
MARVIN, 25, is single. He farms 120 acres north of Ellsworth. He said he comes to the Edgewater about once every three weeks. “I come to drink and watch
the go-go girls,” he said. Glancing up the runway, he added, “She’s pretty good, I’ve seen her before. She has a nice smile.
“Two weeks ago they had a wild one – she had a whip. I was celebrating my 35th birthday.”
A man sitting at the same table grinned sheepishly when he spotted the reporter’s camera. “Don’t take my picture,” he warned. “I’m not supposed to be here.”
Where, then, are you supposed to be?
“About two rows back.”
Later, he bought the dancer a drink – and himself some conversation.
Gene, 29, was at the Edgewater Wednesday to shoot pool in the Goodhue-Pierce league. “I keep one eye on the pool table and one on her,” he said. His
buddy, Alan ‘Topper’ Reinhart, 21, of Bay City, kept both eyes on the dancer.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” he declared, with no apologies to John Keates. He described the dancing as “a different kind of ballet. She’s got her own
profession and she’s good at it. A lot of people look down at it. Most people in the U.S. look down at this stuff, but I don’t think it’s bad, do you, Gene?”
* * *
NEARBY, E.P. was concentration on the pool game in progress. “Nice shot, Norm,” he called out. “Are we ahead yet?”
Wasn’t he watching the dancer at all?
The secretary-treasurer of the pool league took his duties seriously. “I’m not interested,” he declared flatly.
A fellow pool shooter disagreed. “They’ll bullshit about the dancer and then they’ll go back to their pool game. They go back and forth all night.”
Kevin, 22, said coming to the Edgewater “breaks the monotony of life.” He is unemployed.
Bo, 77, can’t hear too well anymore, but he sure can see. Accompanied by his sidekick, Jack, the two men sat at a small round table and drank a beer. Bo’s
cane kept falling off the back of the chair. Jack finally put it on the table.
“We don’t come too often,” Jack said.
“Bo here doesn’t drive, so I bring him over from Red Wing.”
Four farmers wearing identical red Funk’s Seed Corn hats crowded into a booth and ordered a round.
“I’m just passing through,” said one, a fertilizer salesman from Red Wing. His friend, George, 32, of Etter, was more candid.
“I’m so sick and tired of those damn heifers,” he admitted. “We have a good time and have a beer and then head back for the barn.”
* * *
“I COULDN’T STAND sitting behind a desk. Punching a time clock. Keeping those little lunch hours.”
So when her part-time checks as a dancer became bigger than those from her “straight” job as a secretary. Diane became a dancer full-time.
How does one become a dancer?
“You just go down and apply,” she said simply, “and if you’re not too ugly, they’ll take you.
“We’re dancers – not strippers,” she emphasized, sipping thoughtfully on Southern Comfort on the rocks. “We’re amateurs, not hardened professionals.”
She works mostly metro area clubs like Casey’s, the Belmont, Chain Link, Launching Pad and Mermaid.
“The first time I did this,” she confided. “I had about eight drinks first. Then the girls had to shove me out of the dressing room.”
Are there any inhibitions left?
She reflected a moment, then answered. “No more. You get used to it. I used to be embarrassed about my body, but not any more. And after a while it
becomes an ego try. It’s more like a good time – you’re a celebrity.”
The celebrity’s mother and dad don’t know about their daughter’s dancing.
Diane said the job is “nice for an interlude,” but she doesn’t plan to keep it up indefinitely. She didn’t want to talk about her future plans, however.
Though she’ll sit and chat with club patrons between sets. Diane said she rarely gives out her name or phone number to anyone she meets on the job. “I’m
very careful,” she said.
Sue, the waitress, brought Diane another drink. “It’s on the guy with the mustache,” Sue said gesturing to a man sitting nearby.
Diane let loose with a mock scream.
She likes the Edgewater. “This bar is different: it has a nice stage. The people here are nice, too. No trouble.”
What if a customer becomes rowdy or obnoxious? “I smile, I play along, but if they don’t knock it off, I tell the bouncer and they kick ‘em out.”
She belongs to a group of about 60 girls.
It’s like a sisterhood under the management of Titan Enterprises. Many of the women are married, some are working their way through college, and one is
even working for a fellowship at Macalester College, Diane said.
Diane herself attended the University of Minnesota – Duluth for 1½ years before she quit to get married.
She’s divorced now and has a 6-year-old son.
* * *
IT WAS ABOUT time for the last set. Diane picked up some change at the bar, strolled to the jukebox and mulled the choices.
One of the farmers in the red Funk’s seed corn caps hollered, “Jesus, why doesn’t she get goin’? The cows are waitin’. Tell that girl to get out there and throw
that thing again.”
There was no indication that Diane had heard him. She was only doing her job.
“You were just passing through,
Tomorrow you would be gone.
But we shared conversation and wine
You held me in your arms
Yes kept me from harm
We can never know about tomorrow.
But you made me beautiful today…”