1 This is not your father's nightclub. Well, unless your father is Ivan Kane, a nightlife impresario who designed the famous Forty Deuce burlesque nightclubs in Los Angeles and Las Vegas and expanded the concept for Atlantic City, crafting a decadent $8 million venue that's like nothing the resort's seen before - part dance club, part showroom for coquettish, choreographed routines by gorgeous, half-naked women four days a week.
2 The talent is buzz-worthy. In nature, royal jelly is the honey bee secretion used to raise queen bees. In Kane's mind, the top-notch dancers he recruited from around the world are "burlesque royalty," so he said the club's name was "sexy and apropos." He's right. Today there are scantily clad dancers at seemingly every nightclub or party pit in the city, but the women of Royal Jelly are truly stunning and talented, whether they are freestyle dancing from the steel catwalks or on stage for a synchronized show.
3 Just wait and see what comes next. The nights begin with open-format DJs playing uptempo hits and the latest remixes as people dance all over the club. That alone makes it a cool and worthwhile venue, but the shows are what set it apart. "The anticipation is palpable, and it builds and builds and builds, and just when it feels like it's going to burst at the seams, we do the show," Kane says. When that happens, the DJ booth rotates behind the wall and reveals a three-piece band that plays swingin' jazz as the dancers mesmerize the crowd with a striptease on stage and on top of the center bar. Later in the night, around 2 a.m., the tempo shifts in another direction as the band performs some hard-hitting, crowd-pleasing rock that takes the dancers' intensity to its peak. The vocals are recorded but the instrumentation is live, so that while it's still Bruce Springsteen's voice playing during "Born To Run," the guitars, percussion and even the saxophone solo are all coming from the musicians in the club.
4 The nightclub's open four days a week, but the casino bar is open daily from 12 to 24 hours a day. Yet more catwalks lead out from the inside of the club overtop the card tables at the entrance and the glitzy bar area where there's another stage for dancers that can be seen from the casino floor. Music plays through the speakers outside, and lights embedded in the ceiling set the scene with a spectrum of colors. It's an energetic environment in and of itself, and could possibly be the liveliest party pit in the city.
5 Think you're ready for this jelly? You can sign up to get lessons from the Royal Jelly dancers on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Group classes are set at 1 p.m. on weekends, but private lessons are also available. For more information and to schedule a time, call the main number at 609-225-9898.
Heard on a Thursday night: The night began with an open-format DJ playing club hits such as "Heads Will Roll" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs and "Louder Than Words" by David Guetta and Afrojack. For the first show, the jazz band played "The Pink Panther Theme" and "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5. For the second show, a rock montage included "The Wall," "Whole Lotta Love," "Killing In The Name" and "Born To Run."
Scene at midnight: In between the first and second shows, the crowd mingled and danced. The red vinyl seats at the center bar were filled with young women in tight dresses, and groups of single guys vied for their attention. In the bottle service areas, cocktail waitresses in revealing, black silk pajamas catered to the needs of young men and older couples. On the second and third levels, people moved their hips to the music while taking in the busy scene below.
Club Owner: Ivan Kane
Debuted: April 2, 2012
The look: The inside is part nightclub, part theater-in-the-round, with catwalks leading to a center steel platform above the sunken main bar. There are two tiers of bottle service areas rounding the room, with red vinyl seats and dimly lit lamps with fabric lampshades. A second bar is on the top tier. Lasers rotate constantly, and their lengths are revealed by the artificial fog. The wooden stage is against the far wall, backed by pink strings of beads, with a wall that rotates in place to alternate the DJ or the band. The dancers' outfits vary depending on the show, and they perform stripteases down to tiny, skin-colored bottoms and sparkling pasties.