I've discovered abandoned houses, abandoned cars, furniture, appliances, various items of clothing and kittens, but never in my lifetime have I come across a bona fide abandoned strip club. This was a first. Well...it wasn't genuinely abandoned if you consider the man living in the attic, selling a variety of junk, his inventory spread haphazardly throughout the strip club as if a tsunami had blown through town and heaved the wreckage of neighbouring houses inside...and he was offering it all up for sale. But the place was abandoned by the strippers.
My husband Fabien, and I came across this place over the weekend, it's original sign still swinging from the building, while out with family we were visiting in Rivere du Loup; a beautiful little place located on the banks of the St. Lawrence river in northern Quebec. We were looking for an antique shop and found instead, a junk shop inside of the former L'Emotion.
There was something a little creepy about this place and it wasn't just the man living in the attic with the huge gash on his forehead as if he'd had some recent trouble. It wasn't just the way he eyed me either, with his Charlie Manson lamps. It was more the sense of something lurking in the darkened corners. Like the expectation of zombies (likely clad in G-strings) jumping out at me from the shadows.
Situated at the side of a two lane country highway on the outskirts of a small farming town, population 1600, L' Emotion, opened in the late 70s and served up entertainment to the locals for more than three decades. But only four years ago it shut off the stage lights (literally, the place has no electricity) and chased all the nudie girls back to the big bad cities, taking their G-strings, high-heeled shoes and their naughty ways with them. This was brought on by a change in the menu at the club. It had started offering less tease and more please. The town decided it didn't need that kind of action in their community, so the dancing girls were locked out.
What we didn't expect to see inside this place though, was the original set up of the strip club to be still intact. The stage was there, piled high with a variety of crap including old mattresses, and baby items, a mini disco ball suspended overhead.
There was a pole in front of the stage, but not your typical brass type. It was painted black and was entirely structural. So I imagine being in such close proximity to the stage, the girls would take an inebriated swing or two around it. Being a structural pole meant to support the building, it seemed quite sturdy, which would be good for the plus size dancers. Stools accompanied the bar where dusty champagne glasses still hung from the ceiling. The private booths complete with sheers were now piled with chairs. Down a dark hallway there were about six rooms that looked like where the dancers had stayed. They all contained beds, some with sinks and mirrors, some with the ceiling tiles falling in from water damage, (and possible corpses of strippers buried under the debris) all with wood panelled walls.
The building had seen better days, depending on your point of view of it of course, but now it's considerably run down. The stench of mould the deeper you go into the building, was enough to kill small animals. My brother-in-law who collects vintage Mac computers and has somewhat of a museum set up at his house, managed to find something valuable inside; a classic Apple computer monitor he bought for fifteen bucks. Then we all spent another hour scouring every inch of the place for the keyboard and cables that the guy was certain he had around somewhere.
There was an amusing little sign still taped to the wall in one of the private booths. It translates to English as this: "Please keep your panties on and don't sit on the customers." Well, I guess the dancers weren't taking that notice too seriously.
We never did find the cables or the keyboard for the computer. Nor did we find any dead strippers or the odd mummified body part. Probably they were buried out back in the farmer's field that stretched for about a mile straight to the ocean. Ahh, those strippers and hookers are always getting it in stories, aren't they? Turning up in trunks of cars and shallow graves. As if they don't have enough of a hard time of it already. As a matter of fact, there's a dead stripper in my latest novel.
We did discover plenty of baseball bats and axes strategically positioned beside every door and entrance way. Perhaps this explains the wound on the attic man's forehead. Either that or it was from the ceiling of the rotting building falling in on him during the night. But I suspect it was really something more sinister...a late night tussle with the zombie strippers out to suck his brains. From the looks of him, they almost succeeded. But I guess there's still time.