Table dance

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A dancer at Club Nocturne, New York, N.Y., 1940s

A table dance, or bartop dance, is a dance performed at (or on) a table or bar, as opposed to on a stage. It may be an erotic dance performed by a sex worker or it may be done as a leisure activity.

Sex work[edit]

In some jurisdictions, a table dance may be an alternative to a lap dance, due to laws preventing exotic dancers from making contact with customers. For example, in Waterloo, Ontario, a table dance is performed on a small portable platform the dancer takes around to patrons’ tables.[1] The Windmill Theatre in Soho, London operated as a strip club from the 1990s until 2018. The club's licensing conditions included a "no touching" rule and the club had a licence for striptease, pole-dancing and table dancing.[2][3]


Bartop dancing is encouraged at Coyote Ugly's chain of bars

Similar is the bartop dance, performed for the entertainment of those seated at the bar. The film Coyote Ugly ushered in a fad of bartop dancing establishments. Set in New York City's bar of the same name, several establishments around the city (e.g. Coyote Ugly, Hogs and Heifers, Red Rock West Saloon, Doc Holliday's Saloon) actively encouraged women to jump on the bar and dance, contributing to an "Anything Goes" atmosphere. Hogs and Heifers encourages dancers to leave their brassiere hanging from the ceiling to commemorate their dance. However, table dancing is forbidden at many events and establishments.[where?][specify]

Table dancing by patrons (both male and female) became more common in New York after the enforcement of the City's cabaret licenses (required for dancing establishments) was relaxed around the time of the 2001 election of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In 2002, the Hilton sisters Paris and Nicky were reputed to be constant table dancers at club Bungalow 8. Nicky denied the allegations and claimed that they only dance on the banquettes, and added that she did it purely "because it was fun". At another restaurant named Da Silvano, it was reported that Kim Cattrall, Candace Bushnell and Patricia Duff were seen table dancing together. Duff said "Somebody placed me up on the table, so I danced," and that the night was "spontaneous and magical".[4]

Carnivals and festivals[edit]

Another form of table dance is practiced at traditional events like in Brazilian, European and Australian Carnivals, in German beer tents during Oktoberfest, and at other similar events. However, this kind of table dance is not of an erotic nature. As this dance often leads to accidents, especially if performed by intoxicated individuals or when tables collapse, it is forbidden at many events but dancing on chairs or benches may still be allowed.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pender, Terry (February 12, 2008). "Table dancing here to stay". The Record (Waterloo Region). Archived from the original on 3 March 2009. Retrieved 2008-02-24.
  2. ^ Sheppard, Owen; Prynn, Jonathan (10 January 2018). "Historic Soho lap-dancing club The Windmill Theatre faces closure after performers flout 'no touching' rules". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  3. ^ Brown, David (11 January 2018). "Historic Soho strip club The Windmill Theatre loses its licence". The Times. Retrieved 11 January 2018. (subscription required)
  4. ^ Bob Morris (August 11, 2002). "THE AGE OF DISSONANCE; Tabletopping Exuberance". The New York Times.