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All traces of the nightclub's glorious, notorious past have been dry walled, spackled, painted, tiled over, and nowhere is the effect more pronounced than here in the john. Fans of the old place will be disappointed. The news that Rollo's -- one of the rowdiest drinking establishments on this blighted peninsula -- had brought in nude dancers conjured up visions of unrepentant debauchery, a veritable rock and roll Sodom and Gomorrah. Sadly, the real thing is more like Kendall.
The exterior of the building is essentially the same, as is the package store that has borne the Rollo family name for seventeen years. The bar is co-owned and co-managed by Carman Rollo, son of George Rollo, Sr., who founded the nightclub and ran it with the help of his boys for a half-dozen years, until he decided to move on and let the kids take over. The structure has undergone little renovation over the years and still looks like it just rolled off the Big Daddy's assembly line. The mammoth ROLLO'S sign that reigned over Dixie Highway just south of Dadeland for one and a half decades was replaced in time for this past June's transformation by a more demure placard that whispers the lounge's new name: Bare Necessity.
It is no small irony that Rollo's has gone from a live rock and roll bar to a T&A joint, and actually gained respectability in the process.
Of course, as anyone willing to confess to ever having been in the place will admit, T&A was always a big part of Rollo's appeal. The difference is that it's now sanctioned, or at least watching it is. Fact is, the odds of actually participating in wanton behavior were better back when it was a rock lounge. You won't find anybody doing the nasty in the back seat of a Monte Carlo in Bare Necessity's parking lot, nor are you likely to encounter a young woman offering oral sex in the rest room because she thinks you're with the band. If you couldn't find sex at Rollo's, you weren't really looking.
Bare Necessity, on the other hand, is strictly leer-but-don't-touch territory. You enter through a brightly lighted hallway lined with Nagel prints. A curvaceous young dancer whose stage name is Vanity greets you near the bar and welcomes you to the club. She is wearing an outfit that is more Victoria's Secret than Frederick's of Hollywood. Her breasts are discreetly covered, as is the majority of her derriere.
There is no salacious come-on, no effort to entice you to buy her a drink, and no leg stretched provocatively across your lap so you can slide your tip under her garter and surreptitiously stroke her inner thigh. There may have been a time when nude-dancing bars were thinly veiled fronts for prostitution, but anyone patronizing Bare Necessity for that reason is likely to be disappointed. If it's action you're looking for, try a 1-900 number.
Chanel, an ebullient dancer with an acrobatic routine and a mysterious, Eastern-bloc accent (the specific origin of which she refuses to reveal), once danced at Bare Necessity and now shakes her booty further south, at Stir Crazy. She paints a picture of Carman Rollo and Bare Necessity that would make many of the musicians who worked for him choke on their Budweisers. "Carman was wonderful," she enthuses. "All the people there were great, the dancers, the bartenders, the DJ. They treat the dancers really well."
Chanel was a frequent patron of Rollo's (the club), and Rollo (the owner) has nothing but kind words for her as well. Why then, is she working for the competition? "Well," she says with a furtive smile, "it's hard to work for people you're friends with."
Suffice it to say that most of the musicians who played Rollo's never had to face that dilemma. "Somebody was saying to me the other day how great the scene was here, how we were all like one big family," says Carman Rollo. "No way. It was business. They were hired to give us 40 minutes of music for X dollars."
Peter Patrick, formerly of Z-Cars and the Peter Patrick Band, and currently fronting the original rock outfit Ready-Steady-Go!, remembers Rollo timing sets and docking bands if their breaks were too long. "Once we got docked something like three times in one night," Patrick recalls. "He was really strict. We started out doing all covers there, five nights a week, five sets a night. They were adamantly against original songs, but we were drawing a good crowd, so we had a little bit of clout. We would sort of sneak in an original here and there, and the crowd really responded. Eventually they let us do one all-original set per night, as long as the crowd was into it. But I don't think Carman ever liked the idea."