Patience: What I Learned from Visiting an Adult Entertainment Club

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Students often joke about various ways to pay for college, such as getting run over by a city bus, selling drugs, finding a sugar daddy or stripping. Once I made a joke to my mom about how I should become a stripper because I’d make lots of money and it would force me to exercise. She started crying, saying, “My daughter’s going be a stripper,” and that there are better ways of making money. I never did become a stripper, but I’ve come to the conclusion that dancing in clubs and homes for money actually has various benefits, physically and financially, and takes as much skill and professionalism as an office job.

According to payscale, strippers bring home roughly $47,000 a year, but many other websites and studies have reported an annual salary of over 100 thousand dollars. While there are often customers who try to enjoy these women’s services without paying, they don’t often get away with it — such individuals are either escorted out or are forced to pay. Even with such cautions, strippers still make a humble, yet manageable earning. The hours are also flexible, more so than may be the case with your typical office gig, making it perfect for students and other busy individuals.

As for as physical benefits, both male and female dancers have to stay in shape in order to appease their audiences. The various dances themselves are good for the calves, arms and core, and they burn many calories. Exotic dancing is apparently so effective an exercise that pole dancing classes and exotic dance classes are offered in gyms and on college campuses.

In doing research for this article, I attended a gentleman’s club or an adult entertainment club where I saw women performing. I was there for roughly 15 minutes, taking quick notes, watching and listening before the boss realized what I was doing and escorted me out. I pleaded my case, stating that I just wanted to know what it was really like for the dancers, but even after an hour of asking for an opportunity to speak with one of them in person, I found myself driving home with only my observations and the internet to work with. But the experience wasn’t as embarrassing or shameful as I thought it would be. For the short time, I was allowed to take notes and watch, I was entertained and amazed by the power that radiated from the dancers.

Some girls were wearing bikinis and some wore fishnets, but they all had similarly healthy looking bodies — not too skinny, which was surprising to me. They weren’t starving themselves; I witnessed them receive and eat Domino’s pizza. So far as I can tell they were fit and healthy enough to guiltlessly enjoy pizza and burn it off as the night progressed. This normalcy was a great comfort to me.

What wasn’t comfortable — from the point of view of someone who merely witnessed a transaction between a man in his fifties and a woman my age — were the private shows. If I were a dancer, I would prefer to keep my performances to the floor with plenty of witnesses and safety, but that’s just me. Luckily, those who aren’t comfortable have the right to refuse service to anyone. The signs in the front office and around the performing area made that abundantly clear.

I managed to get in contact with a dancer who performs in Las Vegas and who’s been doing the job since she was 22. She asked to remain anonymous and told me that being on stage taught her about people: how they behave and how every person is different. She also said that it taught her to be confident and brave. She used to have anxiety attacks before a performance but now can perform as easily as she can make a phone call. She would like everyone to know that women shouldn’t be judged based on their jobs, no matter what that job may be.

Being a stripper is not typically a full-time gig, nor is it acknowledged as an actual profession that takes hard work and talent. The girls I observed had to keep a professional, friendly face and positive attitudes. Dealing with some of the customers I saw would likely take more patience and tolerance than interactions between other professionals. Overall, their ability to be comfortable enough to show off their bodies is a showcase of confidence I strive to achieve and something I admire. From what I observed, overheard and researched, these women are intelligent, driven and want it to be known that their jobs really don’t deserve to be treated any differently from other professions. These women are students, teachers, mothers, officers — people who deserve to be respected for their hard work.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

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