Go-Go dancers are dancers who are employed to entertain crowds at a discotheque. Go-go dancing originated in the early 1960s when women at the Peppermint Lounge in New York City began to get up on tables and dance the twist. There were many 1960s-era miniskirted clubgoers who wore what came to be called go-go boots to night clubs, so night club promoters in the mid 1960s conceived the idea of hiring them to entertain the patrons.
The term Go-Go derives from the phrase "go-go-go" for a high-energy person, and was influenced by the French expression à gogo, meaning "in abundance, galore", which is in turn derived from the ancient French word la gogue for "joy, happiness".
On 19 June 1964, Carol Doda began go-go dancing topless (after having had her breasts implanted with silicone to enlarge them) at the Condor Club on Broadway and Columbus in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. She became the world's most famous go-go dancer, dancing at the Condor for 22 years.
Go-go dancers began to be hired on a regular basis at the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood in the Los Angeles area in July 1965. The Whisky a Go Go was also the first go-go club to have go-go cages suspended from the ceiling (they were there from the very beginning in 1965), and thus the profession of cage dancer was born.
The phrase Go-Go was adopted by bars in the 1960s in Tokyo, Japan. It was of lesser reputation until it was abandoned by a majority of clubs and appropriated by burlesque and striptease establishments, which in turn became known as go-go bars and the women working there known as Go-Go dancers. During the Vietnam War there were many go-go bars in Saigon, South Vietnam to entertain U.S. troops. A synonym used in Vietnam for go-go dancers is table dancer.
Hullabaloo was a musical variety series that ran on NBC from January 12, 1965 through August 29, 1966. The Hullabaloo Dancers — a team of four men and six women—appeared on a regular basis. Another female dancer, model/actress Lada Edmund Jr. was best known as the caged "go-go girl" dancer in the Hullabaloo A-Go-Go segment near the closing sequence of the show. Other dance TV shows during this period such as ABC's Shindig! also featured go-go dancers in cages. Sometimes these cages were made of clear plastic with lights strung inside of them; sometimes the lights were synchronized to go on and off with the music. Shivaree!, another music show, usually put go-go dancers on scaffolding and on a platform behind the band which was performing. Each show of the period had a particular method of bringing the go-go dancers into camera view.
The tradition of go-go dancers on TV music shows continues around the world, such as the Viva Hotbabes and SexBomb Girls in the Philippines. However, while American shows of the 1960s featured dancers highly trained in the various choreography each show used, many modern dancers are not so closely choreographed.
Many Gay clubs had male go-go dancers (called go-go boys) during the period 1965-1968. After that, few gay clubs had go-go dancers until 1988, when go-go dancing again became fashionable at gay clubs (and has remained so ever since).
Go-Go dancers that are hired to perform at night clubs, special parties, festivals, circuit parties or rave dances in colorful bright costumes (which may include as accessories glow sticks, light chasers, toy ray guns that light up, go-go shorts embedded with battery operated fiber optic tubes in various colors or strings of battery operated colored lights in a plastic tube), with fire sticks, a musical instrument or an animal (usually a snake) are called performance art dancers. In the early to mid 1980s, the performance art dancer John Sex, who performed with a python, played a role in making go-go dancing popular once again at gay and bisexual night clubs along with his life partner Sebastian Kwok.
There were many go-go bars in Thailand during the Vietnam War and they continued (on a smaller scale) after the war ended. By the 1980s, Thailand was a leading center for the sex industry and this industry has become a Thailand tourist attraction for males. Many go-go bars are located in Patpong and Soi Cowboy streets of Bangkok, Thailand.
Not very many nightclubs had go-go dancers in the 1970s. However, in the late 1970s, there was a nightclub at 128 West 45th St. (the same location where the Peppermint Lounge had been) in Manhattan, USA called G.G. Barnum's Room, patronized mostly by transsexuals, that had male go-go dancers who danced on trapezes above a net over the dance floor. In 1978, the Xenon night club in Manhattan became the first night club to provide go-go boxes for amateur go-go dancers to dance on. This got many people interested in go-go dancing.
In the early 1980s go-go dancing again became popular in New York City clubs inspired by the music of Madonna. Madonna included go-go dancers in her MTV music videos. By the late 1980s, go-go dancing had spread once more to night clubs throughout the Western world and East Asia.
Go-Go dancing has made a comeback in recent times, particularly on the West Coast of the United States and Hawaii. In Honolulu, Go-Go dancing is in full swing at various nightclubs like Ka restaurant & lounge, Paparazzi and Oceans 808. Sometimes they also perform at events in Pipeline Cafe. Club 939, a strip club, was a Go-Go only night on Sundays from 2005-07. The gay night club Hula's in the Waikiki Beach area has male go-go dancers. As it was in the beginning, go-go dancers usually do not strip, but receive tips.
Horrorpops, Danish band, is known for featuring Go-Go dancers in their live performances and their music videos. The music video Horrorbeach being dedicated entirely to their Go-Go dancers.
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