Entertainment » Theatre

Burlesque is Back at Atlantic City Casino that Went Bust

by Wayne Parry
Wednesday Jun 27, 2018

Things are going bust again inside the casino at the northern end of Atlantic City's Boardwalk.

And that's good news for Ivan Kane's Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub, the rock 'n' roll burlesque club that was one of the things that went right among the many that didn't at the former Revel casino.

Now, the dancers are getting their pasties out of storage as the club resurfaces with the reopening this week of the former Revel, rebranded as the Ocean Resort Casino.

Nightclub impresario Kane never thought he'd get a second chance to revive Royal Jelly when Revel closed in September 2014.

"For me to walk into this pristine $8 million to $9 million nightclub in a $2.4 billion building and to see it sitting there forlornly waiting for a crowd to energize it, that was truly sad," he said. "I was afraid the place was never going to reopen."

Royal Jelly is one of a handful of Revel successes that are being brought back for Ocean Resort, including its outdoor pool day club, its spa and some well-known restaurants.

The club is not your typical burlesque show. Fan dances and boas are the stuff of 1930s Vaudeville acts; this one rocks to Guns 'N' Roses, Nirvana and Kid Rock tunes cranked out by a live band as lasers flash around. Dancers strut onstage with the band, climb hydraulic lifts, and prance along an elevated catwalk that hovers over the gamblers at the club's blackjack pit and bar.

"If this blackjack pit isn't the most profitable one in the place, I don't know why," Kane said. Referring to blackjack hands, Kane said, "I've seen guys with 18 looking up at a dancer hanging off the catwalk and saying 'Hit me,' and the dealer goes, 'But sir, you're at 18,' and the guy goes, 'I don't care, hit me anyway.'"

Another popular aspect of the club that will be returning: Saturday afternoon burlesque classes.

Kane had to negotiate a new lease with Ocean Resort owner Bruce Deifik, but said it was easily accomplished. Kane sold his Kiss Kiss nightclub at Atlantic City's Tropicana casino about four months ago.

Ocean Resort and the Hard Rock, which is the former Trump Taj Mahal, are reopening Thursday. Together, they are restoring about 6,000 of the 11,000 jobs Atlantic City lost when five of its 12 casinos shut down since 2014. Dancer Lindsey Dunn performed with Royal Jelly at Revel, and is back at center stage with the new production.

"It feels amazing to be back," she said. "There is no place like this in the world. It's like a dancer's playground. There's tons of stuff to climb on and hang off of and swing on."

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