The dancing industry for women is a magnet for negative stigmas and unwanted judgemental input.
To put this into context, when you think of male strippers what springs to mind? Magic Mike? Hen do’s? Gimmicky shows?
Now… Female strippers?
There’s often a fictionalised derogatory image that’s distorted away from the truth. These common misconceptions often attach dancers with having “daddy issues”, “traumatised backgrounds” or “lack of self-respect as the job focalises on being objectified.”
Personally, I find it ridiculous how women in this industry are marginalised into subcategories of justification to why they work as dancers.
I’m not saying there aren’t strippers out there who’ve come from unfortunate backgrounds, just as there are, models, retail workers, photographers, accountants who haven’t come from the best upbringing.
In short, you can’t categorise an individual’s background and account it for their career choice – (emphasis on choice.)
When you see a woman going against what society tries to oppress, it gets shut down. Powerful women have always been treated as a threat and there are natural-born haters in the world. They see an attractive woman embracing their sexuality, body and confidence (while making money) and scowl.
Without further adieu, I sit down with a dancer of three years to discuss her past as a dancer. Because society still has a long way to go, we’re going to call her A.
Let’s talk about when and how you got into dancing?
I started in 2016 and did it for 3 years. I don’t want to conform to the stereotype but I got into it as I had to move out due to personal circumstances so, at that age, I was struggling financially.
The cost of living was just too much. I had a day job which just about covered my bills and rent so I googled strip clubs in my area. This particular one said they were hiring so I emailed to say I was interested and all they asked for was a picture of myself, just a face shot.
They got back to me in a few days and asked me to go in one night before the club opened to show me around and talk through prices. There was no “audition” necessary.
What did a night consist of? What were you doing in between the dances?
Each night varied. I’ll start with the good nights…
Football matches, concerts and other events in the city would bring more men in. A busy night where there are not many dancers in was a dream. When there’s a lot of dancers in, there is an almost “competitive” vibe going on. Obviously, everyone wants to make their money. It was never personal though.
Between dances, I had to speak and engage with the customers. Whether that’s having a drink with them and getting them involved. They eventually ask you for a dance.
How much were you coming out with?
It really varied. You see in America how girls are coming out with thousands, but it’s a whole different culture over there. I don’t think the UK is quite there yet haha.
It really depended on how many guys were in and how many dancers were in too. There was one time I left with £50. I know, fifty-pounds. But on a good night, I could get around £1500. On average, I’d say about £150-250 a night.
What were your best memories?
Generally, the feeling. I’ve always been quite a confident person but dancing fed that. Sometimes there would be afterparties which were amazing! (Not those kinds of afterparties!)
It was genuinely just really fun. For me, I didn’t think into too much… It was like being on a night out, having a drink and laugh with the other girls and getting paid!
Describe the clientele. Is the actual club “seedy” as it’s depicted in the media?
You literally couldn’t identify the clientele under one umbrella as it varied so much. It could be anything from young lads visiting a strip club for the first time (cute), older men, middle-aged, stag dos.
I never really thought it was seedy because a lot of time, the men were more nervous! I did have a strange experience though. I had to dance for a couple. You didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes – not literally haha, but you didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable.
Did you ever feel as though you were in danger?
Honestly, no. We had amazing door security and security in the club. They remain some of my friends to this day. During the dances, the guys weren’t allowed to touch you… If they tried, security would kick them out. If at any point you felt uncomfortable or unsafe while giving a dance, you would signal that to the camera and security would come and get the guy out.
I can’t speak for all strip clubs, but there was nothing unsafe about the one I worked at.
If you could break one stereotype, what would it be?
I would break the stereotype that everyone is party mad. That it’s an easy job. That we don’t respect our bodies due to the choices they make.
In actual fact, it’s a choice made under a range of different circumstances. Yes, you will get the people that do it for the luxury and the money, but you will also get people that are literally struggling to keep there head above water.
For some, it’s not ideal but you do it anyway- I used to go home with my cash for that night and on the way home I would have to deposit it in the cash machine for my bills in the coming days.
I became a dancer but was aware of the negative stigmas. I was initially nervous because of this. I ended up loving it. The confidence and empowerment it gives you is amazing, and you realise that you are actually in control, so you definitely never feel that like your not. I don’t dance anymore but it is definitely something I miss and would go back to.