Barb Kooiman

Barb Kooiman and friends went downtown in 1979 as college students. They were curious and checked out the strip club called “The Blue Tiger” and the owner offered her a job with amazing pay.


Location: 107 3rd St. South

My name is Barbara Kooiman right now at 119 South 3rd street. Back when I was in college in the late 70s it was known as the Blue Tiger. And the Blue Tiger was a bar, but it was also kind of a notorious and sort of seedy strip club and everyone knew that’s what it was. It had these medium blue tiles all over the front of it.

Anyways, as college students do, I was downtown one Saturday evening with some of my dorm roommates. This would have been probably in the spring or in the fall of 1979 so I would have been a freshmen or sophomore, somewhere in there, but the drinking age was eighteen so it was totally legal for us to go into bars. We were walking by the Blue Tiger and one of my girlfriends in the group was like, “Let’s go in there and check it out!” A bunch of the group were like “no, no, no we can’t do that,” but I’m like “yeah why not. I was curious, not very worldly, but curious.” And so we all went in there, but we sat in a booth sort of towards the front next to the window so we were hidden from everybody. But Carrie then said “well we came in here, we outta see what’s going on. Let’s go up front.”

Nobody else wanted to do that but I figured I’d come this far. So I went with Carrie and we went up towards the front and we went and stood in front of the bar and there were women dancing either on a platform or on the bar, behind the bar, I don’t recall. They weren’t completely unclothed, but they were definitely topless and to be honest they looked a little bit rough around the edges and did not look terribly happy to be up there dancing. But there was a big crowd.

So we’re standing there watching and then this guy is pushing through the crowd. He looks like he works there or owns the place and he was pushing a cart with some beer on it. He stops in front of me and he looks me up and down then he looks me right in the eye and says, “You want a job? Fifteen dollars an hour.” I just went, “Um, um.” I started stammering and was like “I have a job already.” I was working for $3.25 an hour which was the minimum wage at that time. I have to admit it went through my head “Wow, fifteen dollars and hour. That would be awesome.” But then the second thought was I would never be able to face my family or most of my friends if I did something like that. So it ended there and we left shortly after that.