Saturday, 4 January 2014

Stripper Bar at the Codette Hotel: A Saskatchewan First

Photo from the Codette Hotel's Facebook page

NOTE:  As a historian, I have attempted to remain as objective as possible in the writing of this blog post. This article does not imply approval of strip-tease in Saskatchewan bars on my part.
 
As reported in an earlier blog post here, the Saskatchewan government recently made 70 changes to the provincial liquor laws. One of these changes, which came into effect on January 1, 2014, included “allowing strip-tease performances and wet clothing contests in adult-only liquor-permitted premises."

The first venue in the province to feature strip-tease entertainment was reported to be the bar in a small-town hotel at Codette, a village near Nipawin, 260 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. “I believe we are the first legal, licensed strip bar,” Bryan Baranski, co-owner of the newly renovated Codette Hotel, told paNOW.  “I know the younger guys are all excited about it in the area.” Source

The Codette Hotel was shut down for about two years. Baraniski, who already owned a hotel at Tobin Lake, was initially hesitant about buying the hotel in Codette. He and his partner kept a close eye on the liquor laws, and when the changes were announced in November of 2012, they made the decision to buy the hotel and turn it into a stripper bar.

Codette Hotel and Bar, corner of Railway Ave. and Centre St., c. 2010. Google Street View

Baraniski noted in media interviews that, because the hotel bar had been closed for a couple of years, there was no danger of upsetting existing customers with the new, exotic entertainment. Sources here and here. 

The first stripper show at the Codette Hotel and Bar was held on January 2, 2014. Baraniski brought in two strippers from Regina. The $10 cover charge included one drink. “We had a full house. Everyone had a good time,” he told the Saskatoon StarPhoenix regarding the inaugural performance at the old hotel. The bar was filled to its 90-seat capacity by 9 p.m., with customers coming from as far away as Prince Albert, 150 km southwest of the village. “It's just a different sort of entertainment,” Baraniski said. “We used to bring in bands and now we're bringing strippers instead of bands.” Source 

The Codette Hotel booked strippers from Regina thee nights every second weekend.Baraniski, who has been in the bar business for around 20 years, expected it would take a few months to determine if the shows are successful, or if they would be a short-lived novelty. “It will be good for the first couple of years and then I think it will kind of just go away by the wayside,” he predicted. Source 

Peeling Repealed 

On March 25, 2015, Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan, announced that the province was taking back the part of the new liquor laws that allowed stripping in places where alcohol is served. 

"I'd like to confirm that I believe that the government of Saskatchewan made a mistake last year when we allowed licensed strip clubs in the province," Wall stated. "I made a mistake and so I'm announcing today that we're reversing that decision." Source

Don Verstraeten, owner of the Codette Hotel, expressed shock at Premier Wall's decision. “People make special trips - like we have bus loads of people coming in from all the little towns around because this is kind of the hub," he said in an interview. "It still hasn’t lost the original impact - it is still going great." Source

© Joan Champ, 2015

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