The Photo Elective – The Mardi Gras Club

This post falls into a category that I call The Photo Elective. Back when I attended the Philadelphia College of Art, I majored in illustration and all illustration majors were required to take a pricey, one-semester photography elective where each student was required to purchase a 35mm SLR camera, black-and-white film and a laundry list of darkroom accouterments necessary to process one’s own film and create prints from those negatives. The school (meaning those who paid tuition) sprung for the chemicals. We reluctant photographers went dutifully about our assignments which usually consisted of faux art, ironic juxtapositions and stuff we hoped would get us a passing grade and get us the hell out of the elective.

I recently uncovered my cache of negatives from art school safely tucked away in sleeves in a three-ring binder. I don’t really recall what the projects were about, but what I found interesting was the stuff I took to kill off a 36-exposure roll of film so that I could process it. Some of these shots are of things and places that aren’t there any more.
Happy HourI started this category with an analog, black-and-white, 35mm film shot of a portion of Gloucester City, New Jersey, and when I posted it to a Gloucster City and Westville Facebook page, I got a lot of positive feedback. There were a lot of conversations back and forth, and, more than once, the subject of other locales, hang-outs and watering holes came up which brings us to today’s post.

This, of course, was the Club Mardi Gras and Westville Liquor Mart which sold booze and offered Go-Go dancers as entertainment. When this picture was taken in 1982, the whole Go-Go phenomena had come and gone, and this seemed like such a sad throwback – like the last of a near extinct species stuck in a tar pit not realizing it’s time was up.

Club Mardi GrasA year after this photo was taken, Flashdance came out smashing box office records and bringing roaring life back to Go-Go or exotic dancing or whatever they were calling it to appease the local zoning officials. I’m not sure if this breathed new life into the Club Mardi Gras. It’s been years since I’ve been in this particular neck of the woods.

I had always heard the rumor that the former Mrs. Tiny Tim had danced there. I searched the internet, but could not find any sort of confirmation. I did find a blog that Miss Vicki writes, and in scrolling through it, I found that she did indeed dance at clubs, but I didn’t see anything about the Mardi Gras. I decided to take a chance and write an email to the address attached to the blog. I figured that the worst that could happen is that I would be ignored so I wrote and asked, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find a response from the Miss Vicki the next day! She wrote:

Yes..I did work as a dancer at the Mardi Gras in Westville.. I think 1979 and 1980. It was a decent Tavern..the owners were very nice. 

And the folks who came in were always kind and respectful…

I think it was on Gateway…

Thanks…nice to hear from you

P.S.  Am searching for photos taken of me while I was a dancer…I also worked at the Oasis in Camden on Admiral Wilson Blvd..Many were taken..but I don’t have any…am working on a Memoir.

If you should come across anyone who may have any..would greatly appreciate it…

Thanks Very Much

AND she attached a picture which she gave me the kind permission to use here.

wonder-woman-MsVickiI was bowled over! Thanks so much, Miss Vicki! I can’t wait to read your memoir.

So if you have any photos of Miss Vicki dancing, she’d love to hear from you. Head over to her site to find her contact information.

If you have any anecdotes about Miss Vicki or the Mardi Gras Club, feel free to comment below.


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15 Responses to The Photo Elective – The Mardi Gras Club

  1. Old NFO says:

    Interesting how one thing leads to another isn’t it… 🙂

  2. Tina says:

    Yes it is! And very sweet of her to reply to Joe’s email – I hope someone finds photos for her book.

  3. Joe_Williams says:

    So far, we’ve got a lot of fine memories of the club, but no photos yet. I think once this bounces around the internet for a while, something will shake loose.

  4. Victoria says:

    Thanks for the post, and your kind comments.

  5. Joe_Williams says:

    THANK YOU, Miss Vicki!!! Hopefully we can do a follow-up when some photos emerge or when you pen your memoir. I’m sure it will be a terrific read. I can’t wait! Until then, we have your blog to enjoy.

  6. Dave Bolt says:

    Club Mardi Gras is Hotshots Bar and Grill now a days. Never went in when it was Mardi Gras, but Hotshots is your typical dive bar. Had a lot of fun there though. Vanilla Ice performed there back in the 90’s believe it or not. And thank you, Miss Vicki!! I’m sure that will be a very interesting memoir.

  7. Joe_Williams says:

    Thanks, Dave. I never gave the place much thought when I lived in Westville. My younger brother and I used to laugh at the gift decanters in the Liquor Mart part of the place, but I never went into the tavern. Now that I’m hearing all of these stories, I wish I had.

  8. Chuck says:

    We would go to the Ship Diner on the circle when she got done.

  9. Chuck B says:

    The Brooklawn Diner.

  10. Joe_Williams says:

    Thanks, Chuck!

  11. Phoebe Hines says:

    I was a regular at the Mardi Gras,,there every Friday and Saturday night,,in 1977 the government lowered the drinking age to 18 and of course I turned 18 in January of that year,,well six months later the government raised it back to 21,but,if you were 18 before they raised it back than you were “grandfathered” so at age 18,,I was hanging in the Mardi Gras,,it was the happening spot back than,,it was not a dive,,it was a great place to meet up with old and new friends,,I have alot of great memories from the Mardi Gras.

  12. Joe_Williams says:

    Lowering the drinking age seems so insane nowadays, but they did it! Thanks for the memories!

  13. Donald Crawford says:

    My cousin Gary was a police officer when the Madi Gras was open. One snowy night he responded to a call there, After he left the club he returned to his car and discovered he left it unlocked and the whole interior was filled with snow. I believe some of those snow men are on the Westville Facebook Site. It was a long time before the memory of that evening has slipped away.

    Another memory… just sayin

  14. Joe_Williams says:

    Thanks for stopping by and the comment!

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