Strip Clubs: Nightlife's Seedy Underbelly?
Saturday night. There’s a good chance you’ll go out with friends. Shit pints of lager, fruity cocktails, a jaeger-bomb or two. The basic good time stuff.
But there’s people out there that aren’t happy with the standard nightlife scene. They take things one step further.
Whilst most of us only see strip clubs in films, it turns out the industry is stronger than ever. Highly taboo, and often shrouded in mystery, I decided to interview a long-standing strip club worker to get some insider knowledge.
A bartender, rather than a dancer, his stories offered no less debauchery. I asked if any incidents stuck out in his mind, and the first thing he told me was,
‘(A customer) mid dance, pulls a fucking 8 ball of coke out, (and) hits a key... (he was) politely asked to leave but (he) comes back a few days later and drops a grand.’
It’s often said that strip club owners turn a blind eye to narcotics, and my source’s accounts seem to confirm this.
‘(Sometimes other bar staff) did cocaine to do the (end of the night) clean down quicker.’
Having worked in nightclubs myself, I understand the agony of a post-shift clean down. Depending on the size of the establishment, and how messy the night was, it can take upwards of three hours to do properly.
But when there was suspicion of possession by staff in the bars I worked at, there’d be an immediate investigation. If anyone was found to be carrying, which did happen on occasion, they were dismissed on the spot.
On the theme of dismissal, my source continued, ‘There was a stripper… (that) tried to work at ours, (but) she was that rough she was fired.’
I asked for more details.
‘(She) had… white powder under her nose and literally sat picking her feet in front of customers… she said the (other dancers) were stealing her stuff, when it was actually the other way round.’
The bartender told me that there’s far too many stories to list, considering how long he’s worked in the industry.
‘There’s also (a regular) who thinks he’s King Arthur’s granddad, and (he) wants to summon an angel in the strip club to marry her.’
When I asked whether this guy, this ‘monarchical ancestor’, was taking cocaine too, my source said, ‘He was… not well mentally.’
It turns out that, most of the time, King Arthur’s granddad wanders the streets absolutely wasted. In a live news interview, he encouraged people to drink and drive.
Sometimes, it’s not drugs that make people crazy. Some people are crazy already.
A recurring theme from my source’s stories emerged. The people who frequented the establishment seemed to be, in some way, outsiders.
Millionaires with no grasp of reality, or unhinged penny-less hedonists, the place attracts people which the rest of society would deem not ‘normal’.
‘I once nearly got into a scrap with a woman because she (smashed) into me… carrying a stuffed snow leopard, and then (screamed) “FUCKING BREXIT” at me.’
I asked what she meant, and he shrugged.
One thing that lurked in the back of my mind, something also seen mostly in films, was the stereotype that strippers often steal from their clients. I pushed the bartender on the issue.
‘Oh, god no! Believe it or not (Club Name) is actually the golden club (round here)… dancers don’t have to pay a floor charge and the club only takes a 20% cut of the dance fees. So all the girls are (really great people).’
He told me it’s important that everyone works well together, so whenever a dancer comes in and thinks they’re ‘top shit’, the other staff quickly put them in place.
Or, like the feet-picker, get rid of them.
He said, ‘It’s (Rival Club’s Name) that’s the lawless one… One of the (dancers) there fucking garrotted me to my seat with her G-string.’
When I worked in bars, there used to be a sense of community me and my colleagues felt. Workers from other places would come in, chat to us, and in turn we’d visit them too.
Mostly to moan, but still…
After he told me about this other club, I asked whether the industry’s community is similar to that of tamer establishments.
‘If we finish work early, we go (to a rival establishment), or we as a club go there late Sundays.’
So it’s more of a workplace thing, rather than a wider sense of community?
From what I could gather, the strip club’s employees thoroughly enjoy their time there.
Contrary to the popular image of desperate women and shady bartenders, it's simply a way of life they’ve happily grown accustomed to. The only difference is, they live twelve hours behind everyone else.
“Early to bed, early to rise” has no meaning.
Most strip clubs are nowhere near the mafia dons shown in movies. Any incidents from overly frisky customers are slammed down on.
Same goes for fights, theft, and anything else that might disturb the peace.
My source seemed genuinely shocked at my stealing-stereotype-comment. To him, and to the other staff, the club is nothing more than a group of good people having a good time.
‘If we (have) a pint I’ll tell you more.’
Since I first met him, I’ve had many, many pints with this bartender. Often to the point of blacking out and waking in some strange place. If you’ve read my other articles, you’ll know that’s a favourite pass-time of mine.
Is my conventional-style night out really any different to partaking in the strip club industry? Sure, there’s less half-naked dancers garrotting me with G-strings, but at the end of the day it’s all about having fun.
Escaping the 9-5 schedule for just one/two nights a week.
Perhaps it’s time strip clubs were stripped of their taboo label. Chances are, if you go to one, you’re in no more danger than you would be in a regular club.
Just steer clear of mafia-run brothels. That’s another story completely.