Sunday, 25 September 2011

When a stripclub feels like the Door to Hell

Last night my stripclub, where I have worked on and off for several years, felt strange and alien to me.  The mood, usually filled with jovial first-timer's and plenty of testosterone stag's 'n' lad's, was bitter and misogynistic.  Everyone was leering, ready to spend their pocket money on the plucked and plumed piece of meat which strutted around the club in their skimpy fantasy outfits.  The club was full of guys, and there were only about 50 girls on the floor (during the week you can get up to 70, or even 100).  So theoretically we all should have got along together swimmingly, with everyone earning money and having a good time. The guys would have a chance to enjoy their night out and catch up with their pals without being constantly hassled by hungry women, whilst the girls would have enough chaff to wade through and not much waiting around to do between dances.

Except last night, something wasn't right.

There was a build-up of pressure gradually throughout the night.  The guys weren't biting as per usual - dance here, two more there - and the girls were beginning to get desperate after the chorus of knock-backs.  But that can happen anytime, any night.

The crowd wasn't just stag parties of mainly white commuter 9 - 5ers, but was much more varied than usual.  There were several large groups of black guys, swaddled in bling and loud shirts, nursing bottles of Couvousier, and several more of Asian & Indian guys, who are usually a mixture of clean cut, ironed creases in their button down shirts, and hairy types with funny beards and ponytails.  I'm afraid to say that many stripper's don't like this.  Hmm, how to explain....  Firstly they don't tend to spend as much as their white counterparts, and secondly, well - a lot of stripper's in London are from previously isolated regions of Eastern Europe, or countries without a large ethnic population, and don't like some types of people, and.... I find it really hard to write that some stripper's are racist, as it make's me just as judgemental as them, but I'm afraid it's pretty darn true, goddammit!  So anyway, this was pissing off many of the dancer's, as they couldn't approach as many people as freely as they would like without  compromising themselves, and the guys were really peeved at being ignored by many dancers whilst the remaining gave them a sneer and a super-quick lapdance.

But I think what really freaked me out last night was the music.  It was deep, heavy, and minimal - fine for a rave when I am surrounded by happy gurners who want a cuddle and a lollipop to go with their warm pint, but horrible when you are approaching lot's of strange faces in a dark room and then trying to turn them on by showing them all the crevasses of your naked flesh.  A bit of happy disco or some sing-a-long rock can really help me turn on the charm, and lyrics give the customer's something to relate too.

I remember staring at the mirror thinking 'who am I?' as my mood darkened to the point where my beautiful Mac red lips with extra Lancome gloss seemed to turn into a leer from a child-bride in a clown's outfit.  I got even more sketched out when a really drunk guy who had spent all his money on another girl in VIP early on in the night began to follow me around the club, hovering nearby as I talked to another customer and even trying to join me on stage and at tables.  Thankfully, before the carnival atmosphere got too much and I fell into a complete and utter stripper meltdown, I met an Indian guy who  gave me a couple of hundred over an hour or so.  He was nice to talk to, there was a nice bottle of Bollinger at his table that I could help myself too, and he left a good hour before closing.

As the club was still filled with a weird, menacing vibe, I didn't even bother with my customary tour of the place.  I'd only had a couple of dances apart from the Indian guy, so after tip-out and taxi fare I'd scraped half of what I would consider a usual Saturday night, but I'm not greedy.  I know that when the most familiar stripclub in the world feels like the doorway to Hell, it's not good for my stripper psyche to hang about.


WasJustBoredandCurious, said...

So: Sassylapdancer expects to earn a median average of £440 on a Saturday night, and earnings are down from their peek a few years ago, when she earned 50% more (according to Evening Standard article), so presumably then she would have earnt £600-£700 on a typical Saturday night...

Sassylapdancer, may I pose a question?
As someone who on several occasions went to a strip club and wasn't sure how to handle it, I have to ask: how should a customer behave, financially?
Should he ask how much you want for your time and then pay you that amount, until he's run out of money?
Or, should he negotiate a lower payment-per-hour? So he gets, in effect, more time?
Or, should he start off with small payments, and make sure they get larger as night goes on? (eg., something like one hundred quid for first hour, two hundred for second, three hundred for third, etc.) For the sake of incentivising hard work? Or is that just wrong?
Or, should he just give you, say, 500-600 pounds, everything he has apart from drinks money, and then trust you to look after him all evening?

There seems to be an innate conflict there, between behaving like a "gentleman" (so far as you can be), and behaving like a "self-interested" guy, or arsehole, who won't feel ripped off.

I'd like to think the last option - giving a nice-looking girl all of your cash -would be best; but would it work in real life?

Strip clubs seem an example of the heartless market-mechanism in action. The economic relationships invite, and almost force, people to behave badly. That is, to behave as if it's not human company, human warmth, or sexual excitement, or Beauty, that's being commodified, but any other product.
Does that make any sense, or am I rambling?

Anyway, two questions:
1./ how should a customer pay a dancer?
2./ when it comes to the innate heartlessness of the economic relationship: Is there any way to rise above this?

TBH going to a strip club was a one, or twice-off, adventure, not something I could ever afford to fit into my lifestyle, so its only an academic question.

But of those ways above, which is best?

WasJustBoredandCurious, said...

BTW I realise that the quantity of money mentioned in the examples above may be a bit low, but it's the method and not the quantity I was hoping to ask about?

Although there is a related point: you may earn an average of 500 pounds on a Saturday night altogether, but I'll bet you HOPE to earn a whole lot more.

sassy said...

Hi, good question - but it's as difficult to answer as how long is a piece of string.
I would say that whatever makes the girl happy, makes you happy, and is within the rules of the club. Some places insist on taking a commission on hourly sitdowns, so you have to factor that it if you are negotiating a whole evening rate.
Most dancers are happy if you tip frequently and have a dance at least every 15/20 minutes, although this may cause friction if you don't increase the payments or do a sitdown after a while.
The earnings are too up and down to generalise, and the industry as a whole has become harder to make money in as the number of clubs and the commission that you have to pay has increased. So any 'average earnings' such as £440 on a Saturday night would be halved after tipout, house fee, travel costs etc. I'd only take home a few hundred out of the £440.

I always hope to earn a lot more - in fact I pray every day that a super spender will come in and pick me - fingers crossed hey?

WasJustBored&Curious said...

Thanks for answering.
It's none of my business, but may I ask whether you literally pray, or if it's just a figure of speech?

As to the fees dancers pay, I get the impression that's how the clubs make their money.

There was one club I went to, on my first adventure into London's strip club scene, near Tower Bridge, where the drinks were phenomenally expensive, and the dancers kept encouraging me to buy drinks. They themselves didn't get as much money in tips, as the club got through the bar, and I assumed at the time that the club paid them to work there, or that maybe they got commission from the drinks. Could it be I was wrong, or do some clubs work like that?

If not, they should do: the result was a deliriously happy, gloriously drunk guy walking home for an hour (lacking the money for a taxi), falling into bed and waking up - early - in laughter, with a grin on his face so wide his cheeks were in pain. I was in a good mood all day. And I believe it was because I'd been made a fuss of by two attractive women, done something which seemed out of character, something irresponsible, secret and stupid (because I couldn't afford it), and got, obviously, very very drunk.
It was one of only two instances in my life where alcohol caused such a ridiculous euphoria.
Sorry, I just wanted to share that experience with someone....

Anyway, if the girls there had insisted on a direct payment up front before I was wasted, I'm not sure I would have said 'yes', because I hadn't intended to pay so much. Also, I'm not certain I would've got so drunk without pressure.
On the other hand, that club was totally empty apart from me.

Incidentally, recently you mentioned your stripping buddy. I hope things are okay there, but what I was curious about was: what happened to your going to a new club with her? Was it a bad experience? And, which ones don't you go to, and why (surely if they're not so lucrative, the club would just reduce the house fees?)

Was Just Bored and Curious,... said...

Some time ago I posted a long, autobiographical comment, and it never appeared. Is this a technical mistake, or, did I break house rules? I hope I didn't cause offense, anyway.

sassy said...

Some clubs do give the girls commission on drinks - this is how clubs operate in Japan's hostess bars, for example.
My stripping buddy and I had a great night together last week, but I'm not telling where!!!!

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