The flashing lights, rock videos and crowded dance floor give Vancouver’s Shakers the appearance of a regular nightclub. But in fact the clientele is young, and members sip such drinks as Madonnas—nonalcoholic combinations of orange juice, grenadine and soda pop with an umbrella on top, at $1.35 a glass. Indeed, the doorman at Shakers checks identification to ensure that patrons are under 19 before collecting a $5 cover charge. In the dance club as many as 470 people aged 15 to 18 can socialize during weekend nights and school holidays, and it is just one of a number of “kiddie clubs” opening up in cities across the country, keeping teenagers off the streets and earning high profits for club owners. Declared Mike Shears, 18, who says he has not missed a single night since the club opened last December: “There is no booze, no drugs—and it gives us kids a place to go.”
Shakers has proved so successful with teenage Vancouverites that its owners opened a second club in nearby Chilliwack, will open another in Kamloops in July and are now planning a Toronto establishment. Said principal shareholder Clive Ross, 44: “We want to be the McDonald’s of the teen dance club market.”
But he will face competition. In Calgary I.T.S. Industries Ltd. is investing $250,000 in the city’s first alcohol-free nightclub because market research revealed an untapped market of 70,000 teenagers living in the area. If the club succeeds, the group plans to open similar entertainment centres in other major Canadian cities. Owner Patton MacDonald says that the club will offer the same “sex appeal” of an adult club, with electronic gadgetry as well as old-fashioned bubbles and confetti. Said MacDonald: “There is a glaring lack of facilities for social contact among kids this age.”
For its part, the Vancouver police department is an enthusiastic supporter of Shakers. Insp. Robert Burns, who is in charge of the area, told Maclean's that “there should be more establishments like it.” But not all the activities inside are purely innocent. Declared Ross: “We cannot have a churchlike atmosphere —but if hands disappear or clothing comes off, then staff move in.”
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