That One Time I Tried Exotic Dancing
Spoiler Alert: It Is Not Easy. It Is Fun.
I would like to preface this story with a little announcement.
THIS PROFESSION NEEDS MORE RESPECT.
For a while after my experience as a dancer, I thought that if I ever told my parents about it I would apologize but I came to realize very early that there is nothing to apologize for.
It is a damn good job if it's done right.
I would do it again in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself.
In The Beginning
The opportunity, like most, just fell into my lap after meeting a friend on the internet. She started working at a club not far from our neighborhood and thought it would be more fun for her if she worked with someone she knew well. This club is mild, before I get anyone too excited. It is a 'topless only' place (boring, I know). Highly regulated. Not 'fancy' by any means but they did an AMAZING steak and lobster.
I was, apparently, the only friend of hers in the area with the looks and mindset to get hired.
Back then, I'm coming in at 5'7 and 90lbs on a good day. I was skeletal. I was pale, like the moon, but unpleasant. I was sad. I had bags under shark eyes. I was death incarnate. I had the self confidence of a barnacle and all of my energy was coming from a concoction of expensive bath bombs and under the counter Adderall.
To prepare for my audition: Spray Tan, 6 Inch Heels, $10 Department Store Lingerie, Three Shots of Fireball, and A Vodka Cranberry.
I got the job.
I like the idea that I managed to summon my inner bad bitch. The reality is that the hiring manager only watched the last forty-five seconds of my dance. I could have bounced around the stage on my gut making walrus noises for the first two minutes. All he noticed is that I had drawn an audience and I knew how to make my limited fatty parts vibrate. I spun on that pole ONCE the whole audition and I come off the stage thinking 'alright I'm gonna go back to my bank job because this is NOT my lane.' The manager comes over, looks me up and down as if he forgot what I was there for, and says "you look great up there, here's the paperwork."
I'd like to disclose that just because this place has minimal requirements for dancers it does not negate the skills of the women that work there. It also does not mean you can just wander in to any strip club, get drunk, and get a job. My experience does, in no way, reflect the true nature of the business.
To this day I'm not sure how I got the job. At that point in my life I thought I only had rhythm when I was emotionally stable but there I was. Officially a stripper.
The Myth About Body Types
A little bit ago I talked about how I looked at this time in my life. I'm here to talk about why it worked in my favor. It turns out, your body type does not ACTUALLY matter all that much. There is a size range, sure, but let me tell you that the stage I danced on presented every body type imaginable and we all made over a living wage. The secret is confidence. Carry yourself like Beyoncé is on a constant loop in the background wherever you go and you will slay at this job.
There is a niche client base for every body type: Frat boys and Marines loved me.
I have some ideas but this isn't that kind of story. There is a level of discomfort I'm NOT going to subject the readers to.
Starting out with rhythm and a basic understanding of what dances and faces are "sexy" will definitely get you a jump on the market but if I'm completely honest it is not a requirement. If you manage to nail your audition the rest will be learned on the floor.
Remember. Beyoncé plays every time you walk into a room.
I worked for myself! This could go somewhere! I had stage names and everything. I was thriving on my double life.
No, I won't tell you my stage name(s).
I still had a 9 to 5 so dancing just kept me distracted on the two days of the week that the bank job couldn't. There were the occasional Wednesdays and UFC fight nights. Sometimes I would just text a dancer that I knew was there and see how the crowd was to find out if it was worth the hour of getting ready.
The work is simple. Don't miss your stage time, pay attention to the DJ because they will only call you three times and the main stage cannot be empty, you can half-ass the secondary stage but you still need to do the whole song. Between your stage times, walk around and keep the energy up. Give the lap dances, the private dances, tell the creeps in the champagne room that there is no sex in the champagne room, and get paid. You can ask tables if they want dances but really you'll only feel inclined to do that on slow days. Finally, pay your house fee and pay your 10%. It may not look like the bouncers are keeping track, but they are.
Now, there are women at this place that are absolute veterans. Their stage dances are choreographed, they lip synch their songs because their playlist is SPECIFIC to their stage times, and the lighting is discussed in detail with the DJ. I am not that. I practice a couple moves here and there, I take a few pole classes during the week, then I drink a couple vodka cranberries paid for by a lap dance and take the stage with whatever song the DJ feels like my look requires. Which is usually country.
Fuck em. I make it work.
I need the general public to understand that making country music sexy in a strip club is not as easy as you would think. Especially when The Weeknd is HUGE this particular undisclosed year. He makes for a super easy dance but the DJ won't play him much because every new dancer wants to dance to The Weeknd.
I'm the only dancer in the club with a fake tan.
I am not getting The Weeknd.
I am getting Florida Georgia Line.
Good thing I brought my boots because I OWNED IT.
Boots were not allowed on stage. They required the standard shoe with the rubber bottoms to avoid scuffing the stage.
My lunches are paid for by my regulars. I'm living my best life considering my mental state. I start to wonder why this profession is so villainized. I wasn't even doing it seriously and I still managed $300-$500 nights. Society is the absolute worst to think this isn't a real career. I spend a lot of time dancing on the laps of drug dealers and astrophysicists alike thinking about how underfunded this field is. These clubs could afford better bathrooms if they didn't have to hide in the dark corners.
The walls are mirrors, the lighting is perfect, and for the first time I feel absolutely amazing about how I look. Let me tell you about how empowering this job is. These men (some women as well but I'm generalizing here) are spending their hard earned wages for what is essentially attention. The nudity is just a bonus. I once sat across a table from a retired rocket scientist for three whole songs because all he wants is someone who would listen to his work stories. I'm just sitting there with my tiddies out waiting for my turn on stage and I'm learning about the physics on Mars. He gave me $50 for my time and brought me flowers the next time he came in. I realize there is a chance that he isn't actually a retired rocket scientist. The odds are higher that he is just a well-read lonely old man. My point is, everyone needs strip clubs and what kind of hypocrites judge these women for giving the world what it wants, the best they can, within the state laws? These women are out here unlocking secrets of the patriarchy and they don't get daytime television airspace because nudity is bad?
Those are the things I ponder while spinning upside down on a pole, holding my weight with just my knees. Defying gravity while I remove my top with one hand while still making sexy faces.
Unfortunately, I remember nothing about the physics on Mars. I'm not even sure that is what he was lecturing me about but I got $50 and some flowers.
This job is not easy. The shoes HURT. The stairs to the locker room are DANGEROUS. The nights are long and the physical exertion is IMMENSE. The bouncers have to walk you to your car and make sure your car leaves the parking lot. You have to leave on your own or with other dancers and get into your own car. Safety is key. People murder strippers. The world is now an even scarier place because being comfortable in our nudity apparently makes us vulnerable.
This job is fun. The bouncers are an absolute delight. They carry your bags and compliment your makeup. The women lift each other up, give each other tips. The veteran dancers will welcome newcomers with open arms and outfits for sale cheap because those sleazy shops downtown are overpriced. They invite you to barbecues. Yes there are always a few that fall victim to a drug but before we judge them, we need to check our own vices. The amount of alcoholic bankers I've met is ASTOUNDING. They're making a living just like the rest of the world. The DJ is a riot and will change the lighting for your set if you ask nicely or buy them a drink. Getting paid to keep the party energetic and alive is a LIFESTYLE.
I carried on with this job for about six months. No regrets. I stopped for unrelated personal reasons and to this day I believe it is the best job for work-life-pay balance. I got a new outlook on life from my time there and my only regret is that I didn't take it more seriously.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN IF YOU WANT TO BE AN EXOTIC DANCER JUST GO FOR IT.
The worst they are going to tell you is no. Then you go to the next club and try again.
I have given a very light, green-tea version of the job and I've left a lot of details out for the sake of the family members that don't need to know me like that.
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