Before we begin: If you’ve discovered this article through Google, chance are you’re planning a trip to Krakow (or are already in Krakow), and are looking for the best Krakow strip clubs. Now, while this article won’t give you that information, what it will do is tell you things that you need to know if you’re looking for Krakow strip clubs. This article may well save you thousands of pounds, so I advise you to give me a few minutes of your time and read what I have to say. You’ll thank me later!
Got that? Okay, so let’s begin.
Krakow is, without a doubt, the party capital of Poland, and the city that so many flock to each year for budget city breaks. Just like its cousin Prague, Krakow is a common destination for stag dos (or bachelor parties if you’re from the US), and it doesn’t show any signs of giving up its place as one of the best European stag do destinations just yet.
Of course, with stag dos (and lad’s holidays in general, let’s be honest) come strip clubs. The two go hand in hand, and it is no surprise that Krakow has an abundance of strip clubs designed to appeal to this exact demographic.
However, as many tourists have found out the hard way, the vast majority of Krakow strip clubs are nothing more than criminal-run establishments that use a combination of drugs, violence and fraud to swindle unsuspecting tourists out of their every last penny, and unfortunately, most visitors to Krakow don’t learn about this until it’s too late.
I should probably cover my ass at this point and say that everything I discuss in the article is all alleged and based off things that I have read on the internet and personal anecdotes that people have told me.
Krakow Strip Clubs…A Cautionary Tale
I first became aware of the Krakow strip club scam a couple of years ago when I was staying at Greg and Tom Party Hostel (the best hostel in Krakow btw). A guy in my dorm was concerned because he and another friend had left their third friend in a private room in a strip club a few hours previously, and now they couldn’t get ahold of him.
They’d tried calling him, but a person working in the club had answered and said that their friend wasn’t able to come to the phone before hanging up. Every time they called back, the phone rang for a couple of times and then went to voicemail.
When they actually went to the strip club to try and find their friend, they were told by the bouncers that he wasn’t there and that they should go away.
Becoming increasingly worried, the boys called the police, who were of no help.
It wasn’t until hours later that they eventually found their friend – he’d somehow found his way back to the hostel but was disorientated and confused, leading the others to suspect that he’d been drugged.
As it turned out, not only had the guy been drugged, but he’d also been the victim of credit card fraud. All three of them had.
Looking at their online banking statements, the three boys were horrified to see that significant amounts of money were missing. In fact, between the three of them, the missing money amounted to 33,000 Canadian dollars.
Yes. You read that right. Thirty-three thousand dollars.
The last I saw of the boys, they were desperately pleading with their banks over the phone, telling them that their cards had been stolen. Perhaps they got their money back in the end, but probably not. Unfortunately the three unwitting lads had become the victims of a very popular scam in Krakow – the Krakow strip club scam – and it is incredibly rare for any victims of this scam to ever see their money again.
What is The Krakow Strip Club Scam and How Does it Work?
Unfortunately, strip clubs in Krakow (and all of Poland for the matter), are not what they seem. A chain of clubs formerly known as ‘Cocomo’ has been present in Polish cities since 2011, founded by Jan Szybawski when he was released from prison after serving time for fraud charges (!!!). These days the clubs do not operate under one name or signage, but are a chain nevertheless, and are well known in Poland for defrauding tourists of millions of dollars.
Despite countless reports to the police of credit card fraud, as well as the date rape drug GHB being detected both in the drinks and the bloodstreams of customers by Polish police, nothing ever seems to be done and the clubs continue to operate unabated.
The way that the Krakow strip club scam works is as follows…
A promo person working in Krakow Old Town will stop guys on the street and tell them that it’s happy hour at their bar and that they will get heavily discounted drinks and free shots.
The guys oblige, figuring that even if they are not interested in going to a strip club, there can’t be any harm in having one drink, taking the free shot and then leaving. Usually on entering the club, one of the girls working there will sit with the guy/s, making conversation and putting them at ease. This is quite normal in strip clubs and so the guys don’t become suspicious.
The guys will then buy a drink and this drink always comes with a free shot. If the guy doesn’t want to take the shot then the girl sitting with them will try and put pressure on them, saying ‘come on, don’t be boring, it’s just one shot,’ or ‘it’s not even strong alcohol’ oftentimes actually picking up the shot herself and putting it to the lips of the unsuspecting tourist.
Now, in this situation most guys will of course take the shot, and this is where the problems begin. According to countless reviews online, this shot is spiked, and the guy quickly becomes incredibly intoxicated.
After this the details vary but the outcome is always the same. The man continues to buy drinks and/or private dances, and when he comes to pay his bill, he is told that his card is declined. The staff will attempt several times to run the card through the machine, showing the guy that it is being declined each time (although the receipts that they provide are fake and actually the transaction is in fact going through every time).
Failing this they will tell the guy that his bill is, for example, 550 Polish zloty (110 GBP) before charging him 550 Great British POUNDS instead (which he doesn’t notice until the next day when it is too late).
Other, more blatant ways in which Krakow strip clubs extort money from patrons is by simply waiting until the guy is passed out from the drugs they have given him, taking his card and rinsing it dry themselves, or telling the guy at the end of the night that he owes an exorbitant amount of money and having the burly bouncers beat him if he refuses to pay up.
I should mention at this point that these clubs are not ripping people off by a few pounds. The men that become victims of this scam have thousands taken from them. Basically, however much money is accessible on your card is how much these places will take.
A man named Adam recalls his experience at a Polish strip club:
‘I was taken into back room with a dancer, after a while I was brought over a shot and was then asked to pay on my card. I don’t remember much after that but it transpired that they had used my card 9 times taking it to the £4000 credit limit, took my drivers license, taken my phone from my pocket to lie about my location to a friend who was asking where I was (presumably unlocking the phone using my fingerprint), replied to a “fraud-check” text from my bank to allow the transactions to go through. They also would not let my friends come and and get me. My friends asked for help from nearby police who were not interested.’
Krakow Strip Clubs Drugging Customers…
All of the reviews and testimonies that I could find online mention a free cherry shot which the staff members at the club are insistent the customer drinks. After that they describe their memory disappearing and talk about how they often feel very ill the next day (much worse than a regular hangover).
This is pretty consistent with anecdotes from people I have met personally. All of them talk about having one or two drinks before becoming blackout drunk, losing their memory and often waking up hours later. One guy told me that he paid for a two minute private dance but ‘fell asleep’ straight away and stayed passed out for hours. When he woke up, the stripper demanded that he pay for every single minute that he was passed out because she was apparently dancing the whole time. When he tried to refuse, bouncers stepped in.
I selected some examples from the website Polish Club Scams that help to illustrate this phenomena:
Abraham (there were some mistakes with Abraham’s spelling and grammar so I have edited for clarity) – ‘I asked to have a beer, and a man came with my beer but also with two shots of something that appeared to be vodka. They said they were for free but to be honest I don’t usually drink vodka in shots, that’s weird where I come from. So I didn’t drink them, and after a few minutes talking with the woman, she asked me to drink the shots. I said no thanks because I don’t like to drink vodka but then she says something like “oh come on” and brings the drinks to my mouth. She makes me drink them in a fast way, and the last thing I remember clearly is that I wanted to vomit those shots, but I think I didn’t. After that I don’t remember almost anything, the day after that I felt like I had a low capacity to think, I almost couldn’t talk, my mind was blacked out.’
Dries – ‘They were pushing us to drink little shots from the moment we entered. I’m not the type of guy that gets drunk very soon but I was really sick the next few days, not like a normal hangover.’
Christopher – ‘I was sitting on one of the sofas chatting to a few friends and at least one of the girls who worked there… This is where my mind goes blank. My friend says that all of a sudden i was slumped in the chair. This isn’t something i normally do as i have a fairly good grasp of when I’ve had enough to drink and make my way home. I dont recall getting back to my apartment nor what i did in the time between then and me leaving the club.’
Jacob – ‘I did not like the venue much, so I asked for a glass of water, and intended to leave. I was not really given the chance. The bottle of water arrived with a shot. I was content with drinking my water, but before I could finish it a girl sat with me and introduced herself as Natalia. She asked me what I assume are pretty standard questions – where I am from, if I like “spending time with girls”, and so on. She pointed out my shot and I said I was fine with water. She picked it up and handed it to me and said “But why not, it’s free! And only liqueur, not so strong.” and so I thought, well, that’s no problem. So I took the shot. In hindsight, I suspect that this shot was drugged, but I am not sure what with. I suspect it was not just extra strong alcohol. I worked as a bartender – I know what strong alcohol tastes like, and I know how I can handle my liquor. A spiked drink is the only rational explanation for the degree of my intoxication once I left the club, given the volume of alcohol I knowingly consumed in such a long time.’
Of course, this is not hard proof that these men were drugged, but it definitely seems odd at the very least. If you’d like to read more personal accounts of drugging in Krakow strip clubs then you can do so here and here.
Violence in Krakow Strip Clubs
Unfortunately the drugging of customers and rinsing them of their hard earned cash is not where these stories end. Many online accounts talk of violent attacks in these clubs, and again, while personal anecdotes are not proof, they are still worth paying attention to.
Here are just some of the tales that I found online when browsing the reviews of Krakow strip clubs (note: most of these reviews were about the club ‘Night Club VIP.’)
Ben – ‘My friend went to VIP Club on a stag weekend and was drugged with shots, injected with something (more drugs?) and robbed. He was kept in a dark room with no handle on the door and was away unconscious for 3 hours.’
‘S’ – ‘My brother died in that vile establishment, drugged and murdered. 10.10.17 it’s been a year already and the investigations are still ongoing.’
Unfortunately I couldn’t find hard evidence online to back up this claim, but I did find this article, as well as an older comment that said ‘My nephew has just been killed in this club and had money taken from his account. Thieving murdering scum.’ The two comments and the newspaper article appear to be about the same man due to the dates, but I do not have 100% proof of this.
A user by the screen name Low Voltage said, about his/her father – ‘He went to several of those crooked clubs invited and lead by two women whom claimed to be working at one of those clubs. Anyhow, he got drugged, has got bruises, traces of injections and got robbed for thousands of euros and he remembers very vaguely being in absolute panic running away from danger.’
Beth says – ‘He [the stag] had been at the strip club until the very early hours of the morning. He had woken up in a locked room and they threatened him into paying £10,000. He actually only had £5,500 and transferred that over, they still would not let him leave so he then had to threaten them with a bottle.’
One newspaper article that I managed to find tells a similar story of two men that were charged €100 for 4 shots – when they complained, they were beaten up by the bouncers before being shot at. As a result of this, one of the men lost an eye. This incident occurred at Hypnose Gentleman’s Club.
Krakow Strip Clubs to Stay Clear Of
Although Jan Szybawski does not own every single Krakow strip club, In Your Pocket (which is probably the most authoritative guide to Krakow on the internet) says that it does not recommend specific Krakow strip clubs because they ‘do not feel comfortable identifying any strip club as safe.’ Part of the reason for this, they state, is that when the clubs begin to garner a bad reputation, they often close down and open a few days later with a new name, making it impossible to accurately keep track of which clubs are engaging in malpractice.
However, I have found some clubs that have consistently negative reviews that you should absolutely stay clear of.
The Krakow strip clubs that you should avoid at all costs are as follows:
VIP Club (92.9% of people surveyed think that they were drugged whilst at this club).
Paradise Strip Club
Hypnose Gentleman’s Club
Taboo Gentleman’s Club
I honestly do not recommend going to any strip clubs in Krakow, even the ones not on this list, because in my opinion it is just not worth the risk. However, if you really must go to a strip club in Krakow then please take the following precautions:
Leave your main bank card at home and take another card out with you that has much less money on it. Even then, only use this card if you HAVE to. Try to only deal in cash.
Leave your main ID at home and just carry something that shows your name but is not super important to you.
Buy a GHB detection kit so that you can test your drinks before consuming them. If the test shows positive results for GHB then you can take a photograph and show it to the police.
Stay with your friends. Don’t go back to your hotel leaving just one friend in the club.
If you do become victim to a Krakow strip club scam then see this article for steps on what to do now.
So there concludes everything I know about the practices of Krakow strip clubs – if you or someone you know is planning a trip to Krakow and usually frequents strip clubs, show them this article so that they don’t fall prey to the scams in operation! Poland is an amazing country, full of amazing people and tonnes of things to see and do. However, it only takes one night to completely ruin not only your trip, but your finances, and even your life. Please be careful when planning a lad’s holiday to Krakow.
If you or somebody you know has fallen prey to the Krakow strip club scam, please let me know what happened in the comments section and also let me know if you are aware of the name of the club so that I can add it to this list. Let’s help to keep other people safe!
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