20 or I'll take my kit off!
 

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Lapdancing bars

There's been a proliferation of lapdancing establishments in recent years to the point where pretty much every major City (and some larger Towns) have 2 or 3 such places competing with each other.

Some people (the prudes, the Mary Whitehouses and the self-appointed moral guardians) find lapdancing bars morally questionable. I'm not one of them - I find these places (and the people who frequent them and work in them) to be quite fascinating and I certainly won't sit on the fence - I enjoy patronising them from time to time. I've become quite the Gentlemen's Club afficionado over the years and have visited clubs in various countries but I am not the slightest bit embarrassed by that and strangely, don't feel that I should be wearing a dirty raincoat and skulking in the shadows like some sad pervo. On the contrary, I think that some of these venues are becoming contemporary meeting places (especially in places like London) and are used more by businessman than perverts (although, it has to be said that statistically, some businessmen will be perverts anyway!) I recently went to a club in London with some Investment Fund chaps and they spent so much time in the place, the club management had given them a special password to get themselves and their guests in for free! Of course, we talked about business all night (not!)

I wouldn't say a lapdancing bar is a totally harmless place and that visiting them is a perfectly innocent pastime - spending too much time in one of these establishments can definitely be damaging to your wallet and can temporarily change your perception of reality (there aren't many fat birds in these places and it's quite a shock when you come back out into the real world to see how overweight some people are!) However, I would argue that it's a 'relatively' harmless activity. Having a young lady try to hold your attention by doffing her kit in front of you is as pleasurable and interesting an experience as one can have for a few quid without too much preamble, in accordance with rules that have been laid down beforehand and with no lasting consequences (unless you're Sir Clive Sinclair who recently married a lapdancer who is some 40 years his junior and who he'd been visiting for years. When she subsequently divorces him and gets half his considerable wealth, THAT will be a "lasting consequence"! - but maybe it's true love and the world has just made me cynical).

One of the things which reassures me about lapdancing bars is the way in which the girls are totally in control. If they don't want to dance for someone, they simply don't do so. If a customer misbehaves then a simple gesture to one of the discrete CCTV cameras will ensure the bouncers remind him where the exit door is. Equally, the patrons don't have to 'dance' with any of the girls who they're not taken with. It's an elective process, no-one is forced to do anything they don't feel comfortable with and, although there may be exceptions somewhere, in my experience, it's not at all seedy. The only people who think these places are seedy are usually the very people who've never been in one. Don't knock it if you've not tried it!

Without doubt, most of the girls are gorgeous - one assumes they wouldn't get the job if they looked like the back end of a bus - but there are some differences and it is quite interesting when I go to a lapdancing club with a group of friends to watch which girls they choose. Some like blonds, some brunettes, big boobs, small boobs, tall, medium, Latin, Caucasian etc etc.I have one particular friend - Robert DeNiro-esque - who always picks the Black girl and yet wouldn't think of chatting up a Black girl in a normal pub or club. Some of my friends pick a girl who is exactly the opposite of their Wife or Girlfriend whereas some pick a lookalike. Some guys feign embarassment because they don't want any of their friends thinking they had too good a time. Some of my friends tell their partners where they've been (as do I) but others keep it under wraps (which somehow exagerates the perceived seediness if they're ever found out). I even had one aquaintance who, on his first ever visit, having been encouraged by the group to have a 'private' dance, ran out from behind the curtain and exited the club as soon as the young lady began to disrobe. We didn't see him again that night and began to wonder whether he'd ever seen a naked woman (despite the fact that he's been married for a some years - maybe him and the Missus get undressed in the dark?) The dancer didn't know what she'd done wrong! Oh yes, I find the social dynamics of it all really quite facsinating and of course, that's the only reason I ever go to these places (Ha Ha - I can't believe I just wrote that).

Contrary to how it may seem, the girls don't have an easy job. Although they can, of course, make extremely good money (it's certainly more lucrative than working in an office or on a checkout and it can be done part-time) it's highly competitive too. There are times on quiet nights when the dancers outnumber the punters which results in the girls having to vie for attention and on occasion, as they usually have to pay the club for their pitch, if they don't get to perform enough private dances, they can even end up out of pocket. They also have to be able to handle rejection and alcohol-laden blokey-blokes who often act differently when in a group than they would if they were there on their own. When well-oiled with booze, some guys let the rest of us down by being much more insensitive and treating the girls like a product rather than a human being.

Also, it's not as easy as just taking off your kit. However physically attractive a girl may be, she has to have personality too and undressing to music (particularly when pole-dancing is involved) is not as easy as it looks. As a point of interest, I've actually hung upside down on one of these poles on a stage in a lapdancing club (don't ask! - it's a long story and it was a very quiet night) and I can tell you it's not fucking easy!! Good Poledancing requires flexibility and strength and doing it with grace and making it visually seductive is, I would deduce, quite difficult.

The other thing, of course, is that because the whole business is quite superficial and based (initially at least) on looks, a 'career' lasts for even less time than that of a professional footballer. The girls are usually in their 20s and I've not come across many 30+ dancers who are still raking in lots of money.

Few of the girls I've come across are 'slappers'. Most of them are bright, engaging and articulate. There are University students trying to ensure that they don't run up a Student Loan and there are single Mums trying to make ends meet and provide for their child (and however mixed one's feelings may be about poledancing, one ought to admit that a girl earning a living this way has to be less morally questionable than someone sitting on their arse drawing State benefits). Most of these girls are, as I've already said, drop-dead gorgeous but here's something which puzzles me.... I've STILL never encountered physical perfection and most of the girls themselves are only too quick to point out which bits of their bodies they're not happy with or they'd change. I do wonder sometimes whether the outward confidence of some of the girls masks a basic insecurity and a need for external affirmation and that displaying themselves and harvesting the compliments (and in some cases the obvious lust) is subconsciously as important for them as the remuneration.

Not all lapdancers are dumb - in fact it's the guys who pay them who are the dumb ones! 

But hey, let's not think too deeply about all this. At one level, it's just good fun. I've met a lot of interesting women and one or two special ones; I've learned enough about boob jobs to become a part-time plastic surgeon; in over a decade, I've only ever seen one fight (and that was stupidly started by an Irishman who's a good friend of mine who managed to pick a fight with a Norwegian guy in a club in Lithuania within 30 seconds of our entering). Despite the fact that some of these clubs will undoubtedly be owned by or under the control of a criminal element, there are an awful lot of less controversial and more pedestrian businesses which are under the very same criminal control; I've not yet seen any evidence of people trafficking or anyone working under duress or, as some people have said, it all being an organised front for prositution and, although it's all clearly about a commercial transaction, I've never really felt like I was being ripped off as I can always vote with my feet and leave.

The growth of lapdancing clubs is a response to simple demand. It's not exactly what one would call a "cultural experience" but it's enjoyable and is less harmful than many would think. I for one shall continue to have fun.

June 2011

 

footnote

Not everyone will agree with my thoughts on this - even some of the girls who do it for a living. For an alternative viewpoint, read one of these two aricles from the Guardian Newspaper (based on the testimony of a former lapdancer) and from the Daily Mail reporter Amanda Platell (I fucking hate the sanctimonious, scaremongering editorial style of the Daily Mail by the way).

To read the articles click:

The reality of lap-dancing by a former dancer

My sickening encounter with vermin in lapdance clubs