By Caroline Fontein
Nothing epitomizes Vegas more than the showgirl. Adorned in skin-hugging sequins, flamboyant feathers and sultry stage make-up, these statuesque icons embody all of the glamour and sexy appeal that characterize Vegas.
Audiences on the Las Vegas Strip got their first look at showgirls as we know them today with the opening of “Minsky’s Follies” in 1957. Along with being the first revue to feature showgirls as the main form of entertainment, “Minsky’s Follies” was also the Strip’s first topless show. The show’s success prompted other revues to open that showcased beautiful women in extravagant costumes, and the Vegas showgirl was born. Some of the other showgirl revues on the Strip at the time were: “Copa Girls” at the Sands, “Lido de Paris” at the MGM Grand and “Splash” at the Riviera.
Today, there’s only one show left on the Strip that features the classic showgirl in all her rhinestone-studded and fishnet stocking-wearing glory. That show is “Jubilee!” at Bally’s. The show is celebrating its 30th anniversary on July 30, making it the longest-running show on the Strip.
“Jubilee!” opened in 1981. The show took Vegas audiences by storm with its 85 dancers of amazing stature (the true showgirl must be at least 5’8” and the men 6’0” and over), talented singers and three specialty performances. “Jubilee!” soon became known as a Broadway meets Vegas glitz production with its large 190-foot-long and 73-foot-deep stage and incredible production elements including 100 different sets and backdrops. To top it off the performers were decked out in exquisite costumes designed by Peter Menefee and Bob Mackie, the same fashion designer for Cher.
After 18,720 shows and 18 million guests, “Jubilee!” continues to dazzle audiences today as the only classic Vegas showgirl revue on the Strip.
Jubilee fun facts
- There are more than 1,000 different costumes in the show
- There are 8,000 miles of sequins used on the costumes. That’s enough to reach from Vegas to Paris and back.
- Shoes cost approximately $100 per pair and last about three months. Each showgirl has approximately seven pairs of shoes for the show.
- The cast of “Jubilee!” features 85 high-kicking performers. All dancers must excel in ballet, jazz and top dance.
- With all the twirls and kicks they must execute, the dancers go through 1,500 pairs of tights a year.
- There are 17 set changes in the show.
- The heaviest headdress weighs 22 pounds.
- About 4,200 pounds of dry ice are used for the fog effects in each performance.
- “Jubilee!” performers must re-audition for their job every six months.
- The show has a wardrobe team of 18 people to build, repair and wash costumes.