Classic Showgirl Extravaganza “Jubilee” to Close at Bally’s

It’s been announced the last truly classic showgirl show in Las Vegas, “Jubilee,” will close Feb. 11, 2016.

The long-expected news comes on the heels of the passing of the co-creator of the show, Fluff LeCoque. She died Dec. 10, 2015.

“Jubilee” opened July 31, 1981, making it the longest-running show on the Las Vegas Strip.

Jubilee showgirls

The closing of “Jubilee” marks the end of an era, specifically an era of tall, slender women with severe neck pain resulting from extraordinarily heavy headgear.

The lavish show has struggled for several years now, a situation made worse when the production tried an update with the alleged assistance of Frank Gatson Jr., described as a “choreographer and image-maker” for Beyonce.

Gatson’s meddling did little more than cause the show’s original producer, Donn Arden, to whirl in his grave. (Think stripper pole, and you’ll get the general idea.) Gatson was given the boot shortly after his reboot debuted.

Angry showgirl

We feel you.

We could see the writing on the wall following the overhaul in early 2014 (symbolically, the show’s name lost its exclamation point), but the show miraculously stayed open an additional year, a testament to marketing, international visitors and a show that valiantly kept the image of the statuesque, glamorous showgirl alive and kicking.

Jubilee showgirls

That thing showgirls do with their knees is called a “bevel.”

“Jubilee” as a show has always seemed a little weird, a mash-up of spectacle, over-the-top fashion and some of the least sexy toplessness onstage anywhere.

Two of the more visually stunning, and technically difficult, segments in “Jubilee” are the sinking of the Titanic and a major melt-down by none other than Samson. Don’t try to connect the dots. “Jubilee” has never been about a coherent story. Nobody’s really sure what it’s been about, but there’s no denying its impact.

For many around the world, the “Jubilee” showgirl is the image that springs to mind when they hear “Las Vegas.” That image of Las Vegas is likely to stick around long after “Jubilee” ends on Feb. 11, 2016.

Jubilee Las Vegas

Even our advertising suggestion couldn’t save “Jubilee.”

Much will be made of the closing of “Jubilee.” As this blog has learned covering the show’s ticket sales problems and attempts to modernize, there are die-hard fans of “Jubilee.” Had those die-hard fans seen the show more often, it probably would’ve continued. Financially successful shows don’t close in Las Vegas. It’s the law.

“Jubilee” tickets will no doubt sell well during the two months leading up to its final show, however.

The Las Vegas Sun, which first reported “Jubilee” would close, says the show has had 18,720 performances during its 34-year history, for more than 18 million people.

Ultimately, the closing of “Jubilee” is bittersweet. Love it or loathe it, “Jubilee” is utterly unique. Las Vegas may still have lots of showgirls, technically (“Vegas! The Show” at the Saxe Theater even has the classic kind), but they’re not “Jubilee” showgirls.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, check out some amazing vintage “Jubilee” costume drawings at UNLV’s Digital Collections.

Jubilee Las Vegas showgirl

“Jubilee” showgirls make $30,000-$40,000 a year, must be 5-foot-8 or taller and can’t have breast implants.

“Jubilee” was a throwback to another time, and we’re unlikely to see anything like it again.

Worth noting is the fact the show was also a hold-over from a time when revenue generated by a casino could offset the costs associated with an expensive stage production. Now, a show has to earn its keep, all on its own.

When “Jubilee” closes at Bally’s Las Vegas, something new is sure to take its place. Las Vegas thrives on new. Chances are, though, it won’t be iconic. Even with all its anachronistic WTF, “Jubilee” was, and is, undeniably that.

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  • Bouldersteve

    The end of a era that is for sure.With Jubille and the Bob Andersons Sinatra show closing its over for the old Vegas. What will be next..do not know. What I do know is it will be cheaper to produce in other words less jobs.Maybe bring in some of those American Idol people that nobody remembers.

    • Jonesy55

      Didn’t they try the American Idol thing with what’s his name?

  • Bouldersteve

    Whats his name..that’s my point exactly

  • Jonesy55

    Saw it years ago. It was an awesome show. If you timed it right, you could catch the showgirls in full dress walking thru the public areas ! Sorry that I won’t get to see it again before its final curtain call. Won’t be back till March.
    Another classic bites the dust?

  • FYMYAWF

    Should add emphasis on “old” Vegas. It’s sad to see another piece of the classic Vegas go away, but the showgirls era was what, the 40’s/50’s? The almighty dollar is all that matters now, and just like in music, if showtunes still sold that’s what Rihanna would be putting out, same concept here.

    Be honest, if you were forced as a tourist to spend your money on only one, would you REALLY rather go see a bunch of scantily clad ladies wearing 4 foot tall head dresses prance around for an hour, or something like Beatles LOVE?

    I thought so.

  • JeffinOKC

    I know Caesars is a faceless, heartless corporation. But, it seems like a testament to the respect that Fluff LeCoque commanded led Caesars to wait until after her death before announcing the show closing.