In the days leading up to Drake's second annual Houston Appreciation Weekend, the rapper teased that the festivities wouldn't end on Monday night. On his Instagram, Drake promised Houstonians that a mysterious “new dance experience” called The Ballet was “here to stay.” We were intrigued – after all, this is the man who has had both Rihanna and Nicki Minaj grind up on him, so he probably knows a thing or two about innovative dancing.
Then, at a pop-up gala held Monday night at the Toyota Center, Drake announced that The Ballet is, in fact, the name of a permanent club he plans to open up in Houston. “There's a culture out there of dancing and it's not about no strip club shit,” Drake announced from a DJ booth in a video of the event. The Ballet will be “about these amazing women that we got in one spot, this music that we got, this Houston culture that we got,” he said. “And I just want to let you know that, me, I'm here to bring it to you in the most honest and genuine way possible.”
But, despite Drake's pronouncement, is bringing Houston dancing to the masses in an “honest and genuine way” really just code for “Hey, I'm opening an expensive strip club”? That's how most of the Internet took it, as headlines like “Drake is Opening a 'Classy' Strip Club in Houston” dominated the web Tuesday.
Yet, as self-respecting reporters here at the Houston Press, we never take anything or anyone at face value – so we looked up the definition of “strip club.” Turns out, this is a heated area of scholarly debate (at least on sites like Urban Dictionary): Do women have to actually remove their clothes in order for a venue to qualify as a strip club, or is erotic dancing enough?
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The pop-up version of The Ballet certainly meets the latter definition. Music blasted throughout the darkly lit room as thong-clad women roamed and danced on poles, according to Instagram videos. Okay, sure, one lady seems to be wearing a leotard and tutu as she performs an aerial dance, but we're going to guess she's not an off-duty prima ballerina. (Even though her moves looked awesome.) Videos also featured showers of dollar bills raining down on partygoers, which – though not mentioned by the academics on Urban Dictionary – is often another clue that you can use to determine if you are, in fact, in a strip club.
Ultimately, what makes a true strip club is an immortal question that may never be truly answered. But Drake is a documented lover of Houston's strip clubs – he even name-checks a stripper at a joint called Treasures in his album Nothing Was the Same, which we wrote about in a 2013 article. More recently, in 2015, Drake and Rihanna reportedly dropped $17,000 together at V Live Gentlemen's Club, according to E! News .
Yet maybe that cash was just a research investment, since Drake says he wants to do something unusual with The Ballet. “Tonight is a different take on how it should be done in Houston. Treat yourself don't cheat yourself. Where the women are on a pedestal and the surroundings are unforgettable,” he wrote on Instagram, beside a photo of heeled ballet slippers. (Get it? It's a “different take” on shoes.)
We guess that we'll have to wait till early 2017, when Drake says The Ballet will open, for answers to our burning questions. In the meantime, start counting your dollar bills so you can make it rain at the
strip club new dance experience.