“You wanna dance?” NO I DO NOT.

Posted: July 29, 2009 in Threat Quality
Tags: , ,

So. Let’s talk about strip clubs.

(And that’s how Threat Quality became a popular website!)

I am somewhere between proud Dancerand embarrassed (proubarrassed?) to say that before my friend’s bachelor party this past weekend, I had never been to a strip club.

This was never a hard-line decision I made out of ideology or anything. Though I was always a little concerned that I’d end up making friends with the strippers and suggesting courses they could take at the community college (much like Tracy Morgan’s “30 Rock” character likes to proselytize to transvestite hookers to enroll them in data entry classes).

And I have seen topless women dancing in a bar-atmosphere. But at the Dolphin in South Philadelphia (where they serve Bud, Miller, straight shots and THAT IS ALL), it’s not so much “dancing” as “listless shuffling.” You tend to put money into those ladies’ g-strings more out of despair and the sense that they’ve probably got a kid napping in the dressing room than any sense of arousal.

So my trip to Club Risque was…informative, at least. Not “fun,” by any stretch. But informative. Mostly, I came away with two key lessons:

1. There’s not a lot of exoticism, or dancing, in “exotic dancing.” I had, perhaps stupidly, been under the impression that stripping involved, on a conceptual level at least, some type of seduction or eroticism. Maybe this still exists at some other, higher-end clubs, but not here.

While you can’t help but admire the acrobatics involved with flipping upside down onto a brass pole, it’s not quite “sexy.” But more alarming is a move I can only call “butt-vibration,” wherein the stripper thrusts out her ass and jiggles it well past any point of sensuousness and into a strange area that I imagine would cause rear-end nerve damage if done too often (occupational hazard, to be sure).

Then there is the unfortunate display when a patron is put on stage with a couple of the dancers, and they combine the pole-flipping and ass-flapping into a horrific game, the goal of which appears to be to throttle the guy to within an inch of his life. With their crotches.

2. It takes an astonishing amount of imagination to make a strip-club work for you. While my friends and I folded our arms crankily and bunched into what I like to call The Huddle Formation of Bitterness (formed out of anger that we could not leave the place until both the bachelor AND our shuttle-bus driver – AN EMPLOYEE FOR THE EVENING – were done with their lap-dances), I glanced around the room a few times, and saw something quite astonishing.

Guys were chatting up the strippers who worked the room in their sexy-dresses, fishing for lap-dance customers. Some had their arms draped around the girls. Some even had their hands firmly planted on their butts. And for a moment I thought, “Maybe they’ve got some quality patter down to lure men in. After all, these are Professional Erotic Women! A stripper must have some hypnotic, seductive tricks of the trade.”

This is about the point when one stripper attempted to break into our Huddle Formation of Bitterness to ask, without any real build-up, if any of us wanted a private dance. When we kindly turned her down, she held out her hands and, in a Fran Drescher-esque tone, told us – APROPOS OF NOTHING  – “I did my nails MYSELF! Heh-haaaa!” before wandering off.

That’s when I realized the spectacular amount of brainpower required to dancer 2really enjoy a strip-club. The guys hanging onto these girls, laughing and grinning and groping, are able to trick their brains into ignoring that this is a fleeting transaction of flesh for cash – to pretend, if only for a few moments, that These Chicks Are Totally Into Them.

Now and again, I write fiction. Sometimes I write ridiculous fiction where I don’t even know where my brain went to get the story that came out on the other side. But damned if I can come up with the level of imagination that could cast the illusion these guys were happy to create for themselves.

So if I were to try to impart a lesson from my experience, it would be this: don’t assume that a bachelor party requires a trip to a strip-club. Honestly, the best bachelor parties I’ve been to involved go-carts and a cabin full of video games.

Also, if ever anyone plans a party for me, note the following: I like barbeques, poker, and martinis. Please note the absence of “butt-vibration” on that list.

  1. Moff says:

    1. Some strip clubs are pretty awful. Don’t, for example, ever go to one in or near Lincoln, Nebraska.

    2. My bachelor party took place, in part, at the Penthouse Executive Club in Manhattan, and at Robert’s, the fine-dining establishment therein (immortalized in this review by the NYT‘s Frank Bruni; keep in mind that one star from the Times is a good thing). And that was fucking awesome. A solid variety of women, all attractive and nearly all very attractive, pretty good at the conversation. Also, I got eight dances and didn’t have to pay for any of them.

    3. It helps to be not trashed but nicely buzzed. I mean, it helps a lot.

    4. You do have to be in the right mind-set. It’s not about tricking yourself into believing the girls really like you, exactly — it’s about remembering that you are all there for a business transaction, which involves you spending money in exchange for friendly conversation with a super-hot woman who will not only talk to you but rub her boobs in your face. Again, this is why you really have to go someplace where the women are actually super-hot. There’s nothing fun about spending money for a girl you wouldn’t go on a date with to talk to you and rub her boobs in your face.

    5. All of the above makes it sound like I’m a staunch defender of and regular patron of strip clubs. I am not. And I have often felt exactly the same feelings expressed in the post while at a strip club. When done correctly, though — good club, enough money, right mind-set — I maintain that they can be fun about once every three years or so. Probably much less frequently, actually, now that I am married.

  2. braak says:

    I only went to strip club once, where my dad paid for my lapdance and I caught a cold from a stripper named “Dallas.”

    I’m not a huge advocate for strip clubs.

  3. Moff says:

    @braak: I find it hard to believe someone wouldn’t have a good time watching half-naked girls with his dad.

  4. braak says:

    It seems absurd on the face of it. Fifteen dollars for a cheap brandy probably contributed.

  5. Moff says:

    That’s a good price, but she probably spells it “Brandi,” and I’m sure she doesn’t appreciate being called cheap.

  6. braak says:

    If I’m the one paying, I’ll spell her name however the hell I want.

  7. V.I.P. Referee says:

    People have barbeques without that whole bodily vibration thing? Is that, like, a Philly thing—despite it being the “city that loooves people”?

    Surprisingly, as a woman, I haven’t found myself wandering into such clubs. I know—why wouldn’t I find the prospect of seeing a naked, female body, fascinating or exotic? That’ll just have to remain a mystery. But I will say this: Most modern men have had exposure to naked women. I mean, real, actual exposure—they’ve seen them at some point before marriage. In the past, men could only imagine what existed under layers of slips, corsets, stays, panteloons, skirts, crinolines, more skirts, ruffles and overdresses. And they probably wouldn’t even get a glimpse of an ankle until they were married. Of course a guy would be overwhelmingly worked-up by the end of peeling away all that—or by catching a glimpse of a can-can dancer kicking up a leg; more than anything else, it was probably excitement resulting from sheer curiosity. The attitude being, “there must be something good in there, if it’s being secured by a textile fortress.” Heck, some erotic photographs of the 1800’s/early 1900’s consisted of women wearing full-body length, woolen underwear, while posing on parlor settes. And that was considered HOT.

    Which leads me to historical erotica (and HELLO, what doesn’t?), showgirl performances (like the “Ziegfeld” shows I’ve mentioned), burlesque shows (think: “Gypsy Rose Lee”), etc. Maybe modern men would better appreciate a return to the creativity and artistry behind more vintage-type performances, like what Dita Von Teese does, or other retro-type performers. More than ever before, men are surrounded by so much information, have access to all kinds of experiences and education, so it would make sense to assume most men would appreciate shows that are designed to require application of “brain”. Plus, these performances are endurable or even appreciated by straight women for other reasons, like creativity of dance routine, costuming, set design, etc. Plus, we can wonder “Does Dita do her own nails?”…

    It’s odd that “quality” has been reduced in so many areas—even, apparently, that of strip clubs. Men knew less before, many were less refined and “culturally polished” by the standards of their day; yet, even dung diggers could catch a pint and see a full-routined performance—complete with song and dance—for a pittance. Go figure.

  8. Jeff Holland says:

    @VIP: ” full-body length, woolen underwear, while posing on parlor settes.”

    I first misread that as “wooden underwear,” and thought, ‘Man, history is fucking WEIRD.”

    As we all know, it was only the Dutch women who had wooden underwear.

  9. mariejean says:

    I’m sorry your visit sucked, even though, I don’t work there. Who knows? I may one day. In a way, it takes a particular mindset to appreciate a strip club for what it is; a giant freakin’ tease. Not all dancers are greedy, vapid sluts either. Yes, quite a few are but a lot of us are actually articulate and well-educated. You have to remember that the recession has created a large influx of new faces in the sex industry, which means a lot of white-collar women turning to dancing as sustainable income while they are looking for a decent job. I consider myself very intelligent compared to my peers, in and out of the club.

  10. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Yes, Dutch women were also famous for maintaining adult body weight throughout life to the half-pound, as any fluctuation would require many hours of new body measurements and woodcarving. If they got pregnant and required new undergarments, a carving celebration was thrown, where local ladies would stand the pregnant woman in front of a young tree, trace around her form and carve new garments from the live wood. They did this every month throughout the pregnancy, so it would be a communal celebration of great joy and exhaustion. By 1942, they tired of this tradition and moved on to constructing women’s undergarments in bronze.

  11. V.I.P. Referee says:

    I knew a girl from Boston (just to put things into cost-of-living, economic perspective), quite well, who entirely put herself through law school, supported a daughter and a husband who was starting his own business and passed the BAR all on a “pole” income. Her peers have massive loans they’re still trying to pay-off…

  12. braak says:

    Yeah, look: if someone would actually pay me decent money to dance around in a thong, I’d definitely consider it.

  13. V.I.P. Referee says:

    You’re an instigator, Braak. A firestarter. I could make some inappropriate comment about the power of technology, online videos and the financial opportunites that could be had as a result of all that, but I will not. I’m just that classy.

    This does seem like a fairly new phenomenon, though—paying for graduate degrees with money earned while stripping. I’m not even sure if that was a socially understandable/acceptable route as recent as 50-60 years ago and I expect it’s still unpopular now. As competition tightens in urban areas, people continue to make very difficult decisions about work, schooling, raising families, etc. It’s an odd social environment to maneuver in, these times. In her particular case, I don’t think her husband liked that she stripped but he understood the logic of it; they weren’t extravagent people, were good parents and responsible citizens and while they could’ve leaned on their families if times became extremely desperate, it was something they’d hoped to avoid. Their parents were preparing for retirement, afterall. Moving out of the city was an option, but their occupational luck would’ve been less had they done so. Of course, now that Boston’s glutted with attorneys, work isn’t as plentiful as—I’m sure–she expected. What a strange economic world to be in…

  14. V.I.P. Referee says:

    extravagAnt, not extravagent…

  15. V.I.P. Referee says:

    $700-$800/hr, by the way…

  16. Megan says:

    First off when women go to strip clubs to see men they are much more vicious. At least that what I witness when I went to one for my younger sister’s wedding.

    Second my sister and I went to a passion party tonight and learned that cats are afraid of vibrators. No one was attacking the cat with it. You just put it on the floor, On of course and the cat will stay clear of it. A great way to keep a kitty off your furniture.

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