According to legendary choreographer and producer Donn Arden, the keys to a successful Las Vegas show were both “beautiful girls and major disasters.” In the beginning, Arden was almost too right: two weeks before his Jubilee’s slated 1980 debut, a tragic fire swept through the then MGM Grand (now Bally’s). Then, on the show’s belated opening night, leading up to the grand finale, an elevator gave out leaving the bulk of the performers stranded 100 feet below the stage, covered in wires.
Since then, though, Jubilee has made all other utterances of “the show must go on” seem trifling by comparison, racking up more than 20,000 performances over the course of 34 high-kicking, Swarovski-studded years, making it the longest running live show in Vegas.
More than that, Jubilee is the last surviving representative of Vegas’ signature form of entertainment: the epically magnificent topless review. Back in the day, these spectacles were engaged in an arms race of one-upmanship, with each show trying to be more, well, spectacular than the next.