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.