May 12, 2016 - 2:00 PM
EDMONTON - Fire evacuees from Fort McMurray have been offered meals, clothing, places to stay and now an unusual gift — a free lap dance.
An Edmonton strip club is waiving its $9 entry fee and offering one $30 lap dance to any customers from the evacuated city in northern Alberta.
As demonstrated in the days since the fire, the oilsands capital is home to many families.
But Chris Round, manager of a company that manages five strip clubs in Alberta including one in Fort McMurray, acknowledges the city also has a reputation as a party place for oil workers making loads of money and spending it in bars on their days off.
"Fort McMurray has been very good to our industry and to our business, that's for sure," Round said Wednesday
Fort McMurray clients are coming into the Edmonton club offering the promotion, Eden Exotic Entertainment, and are happy to take advantage, he said.
"It's been a stressful time for everybody. People just want to relax and get their mind off things for a little bit.
"If it's not for you, that's no big deal. But there's a lot of people that have been really appreciative — they feel like someone cares."
More than 80,000 residents fled Fort McMurray on May 3 when a wildfire spread into the city and torched about 2,400 buildings.
In addition to three other strip clubs in Edmonton, Round's company owns Showgirls in Fort McMurray.
About 35 dancers and staff there are also evacuees. Some have been given shifts at the Edmonton clubs so they can keep earning money, Round said.
Showgirls wasn't destroyed by the fire, but some employees believe their homes are gone, he said.
Showgirls dancers will also be at a "strip-a-thon" fundraiser Sunday in Edmonton. Each will be doing a show and donating all wages and tips to help with fire relief, Round said.
Some Edmonton dancers have already been collecting tips and money from private dances for the relief effort, including one woman who has donated at least $4,000, said Round.
Most dancers travel a circuit, he added, and worked in clubs across the province — including Fort McMurray.
They simply want to give back, he said.
"These are great, great people with big hearts."
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016