Brothel Days pays tribute to history’s working women on June 16th
One Montana miner said, “Many’s the miner who’d never wash his face or comb his hair, if it wasn’t for thinkin’ of the sportin’ girls he might meet in the saloon.” On Saturday, June 16th, the Bale of Hay Saloon in Virginia City will present its annual Brothel Days, a tribute to these working women – both prostitutes and hurdy-gurdy girls.
Ellen Baumler, historian for the Montana Historical Society, will present “Virginia City’s Silent Sisters: The Oldest Profession from the 1860s to 1930s” beginning at 1pm.
Bed races will commence at 4pm. Each team must have a person dressed in “proper attire” on the bed and race up the street against another team. Get your five person teams together and join the fun! Prizes for best team name and fastest bed.
Then, lace up your corsets and put on your finest for the costume party at 9:30pm. Bale of Hay hosts the dance in honor of the hurdy-gurdy houses and hurdy-gurdy girls, or “hurdies” as they were known.
Hurdy-gurdy houses, as described by Seagraves, “had a bar on one side and dance floor on the other, as well as a hallway with several small rooms in the rear. These rooms were rented to the customers who wanted more than a dance, and to the hurdy-gurdy girls who chose to entertain a man after, or during working hours. Not all of these girls were prostitutes; most earned a good salary from dancing and serving drinks.” The dancing itself was free, but the customer was required to pay a dollar for a drink for himself and his partner after each dance.
For the Bale of Hay dance, you can dress as a hurdy-gurdy girl or more risqué as a “working girl.” Buying a drink for yourself and your partner is optional! There will be prizes for best dressed participants. Ennis-based Fools Gold will be on hand with musical entertainment for the costume dance. Their music spans three decades and includes country, blues, and classic rock. This dance band will have the floor filled all night!
Join in for Brothel Days – Saturday, June 16th in Virginia City. Bale of Hay is located at 344 W Wallace St., on the west end of town next to the Opera House. Visit www.baleofhaysaloon.com or call (406) 843-5700 for further information about these and other upcoming events. •