Getting schooled on the sexier side of the entertainment industry
Sex, dance and the entertainment world collide all the time, but at UNLV they come together in a college class.
In DAN 103, better known as Sex, Dance and Entertainment, the industry shimmies its way into classrooms with endless possibilities, educating its students about the “sex side” of dance and welcoming entertainment speakers for open discussion.
The class fulfills the general education requirement for fine arts and captivates its students twice a week, allowing them to see how sex has become an important part of dance and the entertainment world.
Las Vegas performers come to class and educate the students about the reality of the partnership of sex and entertainment — the classroom then becomes a stage where anything goes.
“One of the guest speakers I had attend my class was a stripper and she demonstrated a lapdance to one of my students,” said Richard Havey, one of the professors teaching the class.
Havey, 46, said he likes having a variety of guest speakers because the students learn from them and simply have fun.
“The class is a great cultural experience, but most of the students are interested in the sex part of it,” Havey said. “The classes I taught before focused a lot on the evolution of dance history. We decided to remove that part and focus it on the sexy side and Las Vegas entertainment.”
The class has become extremely popular since it started online in the summer of 2009. Now there are seven sections, two of which are online.
Havey said the online class is great because students are more willing to be outspoken, but they do not receive the same experience when guest speakers attend.
The class had speakers from popular shows from Thunder From Down Under and Jubilee to nightclub strippers and Britney Spears impersonators.
Penny Levin, a publicist for Thunder From Down Under, said the guys attended the class to share their experiences with the students.
“It helps to get a perspective of the entertainment world. It’s not all glitz and glamour. It’s hard work,” Levin said. “Students can ask any questions. They can obtain a well-rounded picture of a realistic view of the hard work that it takes and the commitment it takes to be a performer.”
The class gives a “real vision” and enables the students to have an “open mind” about sex in the entertainment world.
Everyone knows sex sells and that being “sexy” is everywhere, especially in Vegas.
“We supplied more than 90 tickets per semester for the students [and] gave thousands of dollars of complimentary tickets to the class,” Levin said. “Students went to the show, including males if they were part of the class. They experienced themselves how different the guys were from speaking in class to seeing the actual performance.”
Graduate student Shelby Barnard, 23, is a “bluebell dancer,” meaning she is a covered dance girl — not topless — at Jubilee. She has attended Havey’s class and brought co-workers with her to discuss the showgirl world.
“We like to educate the students about different disciplines and how many of us have interests in other areas or have children, corporate jobs and school,” Barnard said.
Students ask anything and everything. Once, a student asked her for her number and another asked about what she does when her top breaks in the middle of a performance.
“You find a graceful way to get off the stage without making a big scene about it,” Barnard said.
Students love to learn about what it takes to be a performer. Havey said most college students dream about being a star dancer.
The class allows the students to present a final project at the end, which focuses on anything they have learned throughout the class.
Psychology major Kaylee Fernandez, 19, currently takes the class and said he joined the class because the topic of the human body, its anatomy and sexuality fascinates him.
“A friend told me about the class, the name of it caught my attention,” Fernandez said. “I’ve learned the origins of burlesque dance and how showgirls have impacted Las Vegas.”
The only downside to the class is not always having guest speakers — it is not guaranteed they will come in.
Fernandez has learned that “sexy jobs” have to be respected like any other jobs in Las Vegas. The Sex, Dance and Entertainment class allows students to learn and accept diverse, entertainment jobs.
“It helps break stereotypes,” Fernandez said. “For example, most girls think strippers are bad, but they have to realize that it’s just a job.”
Students are spreading the word about the fun, dance class and the guest speakers keep coming back for more. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of the class,” said Barnard, “[because] Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world.”