Tara wasn't at work on Sunday, April 28, the day a man walked into PT's Showclub with a baseball bat and beat someone to death, sending three more to the hospital.
The dancer, who's called PT's home for two years and is being identified by a pseudonym here, heard about the attack from a coworker, who sent her a video of the suspect, Ryan Ashland, standing outside the club, allegedly beating someone with the bat. Ashland is now being held for investigation of first-degree murder and second-degree assault.
While PT's has resumed business since the gruesome attack, Tara says it'll take a while for the club to heal, and especially for the girls to feel safe again. Although the Denver Police Department hasn't identified the four victims, one is an entertainer, according to Tara, and has already undergone several surgeries.
The man who answered the phone at PT's on the afternoon of April 30 and identified himself as the day-shift manager declined to comment about the incident.
The attack happened around 1 p.m., an hour before the club opens and security arrives on Sundays. "The building stays open so girls can get in, and the manager's usually in the office or at the bar," Tara says. The dancer who went to the hospital "always sets up the bar for the bartenders. She was there, and [the suspect] snuck up behind her and hit her, started attacking her with a baseball bat.
"After he had gotten [the dancer], he moved on and tried to go for my manager, who I guess had led him outside," Tara continues. That's when a passerby approached the chaotic scene. "He was just walking down the street and heard and saw the commotion and started walking up to see what was going on. That guy with the bat walked toward him and just hit him." That man was the reported fatality.
PT's is hardly the first strip club to see violence in Denver. In recent years, we've documented at least eight homicides or attacks, including a fatal shooting at Dandy Dan's on New Year's Eve 2017. PT's All Nude II closed in 2016 after several public-safety issues there, including a September 2015 murder; the city subsequently purchased the property so that it could be redeveloped.
Tara has been a dancer for nine years and has seen fights at clubs, especially among younger patrons later at night. But she's seen more violence at regular bars — she's also been a bartender — than at strip clubs.
"At any club or bar, there's going to be fights, drama. There is going to be unruly drunk people," she says. "But I've seen more violence and fights and shootings and stabbings in bars being a bartender. PT's at night, with all our security, they're very good at taking care of us, protecting us. They care."
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Tara says that neither she nor the coworkers she's spoken to since the attack know Ashland. The regulars at PT's are courteous, she adds: "I've been at that club for two years, and the customers that go in there are amazing and treat us well."
She says she's close with her coworkers, and that they take care of each other; a "house mother" even sits in the locker room and cooks for the girls. "We're civil; we help each other out," Tara explains. "If a girl's having a bad day...we can always go to the house mom. It's a good environment as long as you don't have bad intentions."
Tara plans to returns to PT's, and she says that other dancers have expressed similar sentiments: "Being there and showing up and trying is important for the other girls to see that we're okay."
Tara likens the attack to a random mass shooting. "I just need people to understand that this could have happened anywhere," she says. "It's not the club's fault, not the industry's fault like people are saying. People walk into places all the time and do stupid shit. This man just decided to choose our place of work, unfortunately."