Juliana's craze ceases

The Associated Press

TOKYO - A Japanese disco that set off a craze for dirty dancing closed its doors Wednesday, less than a year after authorities stripped it of its claim to fame.

Three years ago, Juliana's disco began admitting sexily clad women for free and gave them an elevated stage to dance on.

Soon, hundreds of young Japanese women with boring, dead-end office jobs were spending their nights gyrating in G-strings before a crowd of men who paid a $55 cover charge to take it all in.

Last November, though, police pressured the disco to ban the stage dancing. They claimed some women were using the fire escape to change from streetclothes into their skimpyoutfits.

The club's owners, Juliana Tokyo Ltd.,spent $500,000 remodeling to attract a different type of crowd, one used to the more common, staid nightclubs where hostesses and karaoke sing-alongs are the norm.

It didn't work. Attendance dropped to 250 a night and the owners announced plans to close.

In Juliana's heyday, up to 3,000 people a night would pack the club, many of them middle-aged men, according to Shinji Koyama, a spokesperson for the disco.

The Juliana's craze also set off debate over whether the young women were allowing themselves to be used as sex objects or exercising a rare bit of power over men in male-dominated Japan.

"I was on the stage once and I noticed this guy who looked like my boss, but his expression was just like a little boy," Reiko Omori shouted over the blaring house music Tuesday. "That was fun."

Others said the trend underscored the limited options available to young women in Japan.

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