Ten years ago one would have hardly come across strip tease in Harare, except of course through movies.
When two years ago, a Harare business man Biggie Chinoperekwei opened the city’s first strip joint, his venture was riddled with criticism. Many members of the public openly attacked the idea while others only showed their support by flocking to the club. Located along Harare Street, the joint, Private Lounge is always packed with patrons.
At this club, professional strippers delight in tips that rain on stage. An ultimate rule that says “do not touch” shines where everyone can see it. Failure to observe the rule one can be thrown out or banned from the club for life. Another rule, “no cameras” is often reiterated by bouncers. If one is caught taking photographs, their camera will be confiscated only to be returned after the pictures are deleted. On second account the bouncers are forced to escort you out. Entrance fee is $5 while the charge goes up to $10 after midnight.
The success of Private Lounge gave birth to a more spacious Airport Lounge. The exquisite club is located at Queensway Shopping Centre along Airport Road, Hatfield. The night spot has successfully accommodated revelers who could no longer fit in the Private lounge. Pole and raunchy dancing has popularized the place though located out of the city centre.
Chinoperekwei’s two establishments have however opened the eyes of other night club owners. In February last year, downtown Harare received its own strip joint, the beautifully designed Big Apple. The club owned by a Nigerian businessman only identified as Christian is furnished with couches for the comfort of patrons.
Big Apple, improved on the class, fitting in a separate VIP lounge were patrons pay $200 to get in and be treated to free drinks and snacks. The clubs entertainment manager Lazzie Munetsi a.k.a DJ Ohmz explains, “Our club is for the big spenders. The mature audience who want to have exclusive entertainment be it music, strip tease or live performances.”
Drinks are served by professional models, a tip to attract customers. Strippers and pole dancers came from as far as South Africa and Mozambique. Big Apple is located at corner Mbuya Nehanda and Jason Moyo. The location of the club and the highly publicized standards however failed to sync thus today the club is popular with touts who operate in the area
It must however be noted that long before the strip clubs came to play strip tease was already in practice. First up was, Beverly Sibanda and her group, the Sexy Angels. Sibanda, popular for her raunchy dances made headlines in the newspapers with her famous bottle act. In this act she could sit on a 750ml empty Castle Lager bottle swallowing the better half of it into her privates. This made her attract a huge crowd in every club she went to perform.
The reception of her dance moves paved way for another stripper, Zoey and her group, the Red Angels. Today they are many dance groups who started of decent but observing the attention strip tease was taking, converted into raunchy dancing. A stripper only identified as Miss Rue who performs with Honey Princesses explains, “We started off as a normal female dance group, just like Mambokadzi, but we had to move with time to get paid and we really need money to survive.” Honey Princesses consists of six ladies who all take turns to entertain patrons at different night spots.
Unbeknownst to most people who are fiercely opposed to pole and strip dancing, there are provisions in Zimbabwean constitution that makes the practice lawful. Censorship and Entertainments Control Act of Zimbabwe states out that the Board of Censorship shall certify all public performance. The certificate on strip tease has provisions that spell out how far the dancers should go in disrobing and has limits to the kind of dances that they can perform along with the language that they can use. Some of its provisions read: “The artiste should not strip beyond the G-string. Items (clothing/costumes used for the dances) should not be smaller than those exhibited to the board. No physical contact should be made between the artiste and the audience during the performance of a strip tease act.” The certificate costs US$25 and is valid for a year.
Censorship and Entertainments Control Act made provisions for the certificate 1967. The act has however been amended several time the last time being in 1996.