DIRTY DANCING, THE BODY POLITICS OF LAP-DANCING CLUBS

Posted on August 22, 2013

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This post is republished with the kind permission of  @princessjack a former dancer and fetish model.  After beginning a self-funded PhD into Lap-dancing, emotion and affect at LJMU, now a funded PhD student at Leeds Met researching sex workers’ experiences of prison. Her research interests cluster around the regulation of womens’ bodies and include whiteness, the chav, class, celebrity, slut shaming,disgust, abjection, stigma, othering, deviance, visual and creative methods.  She is always happy to connect with sex workers or researchers. You can read the original on her blog, Plastic Dollheads. We think this is an important issue where many sex workers have strong feelings on either side of the debate. 

 

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I think this prove controversial to many sex workers. It is not meant to offend, and all comments are welcome. Firstly, this is about UK lap-dancing clubs, as I am aware that USA lap-dancing clubs are very different and that bump and grind is the norm for many clubs. In the UK despite the term lap-dancing (stripper causes many offence and I don’t personally use it to describe club dancing) there is zero contact. Also the house fee situation (largely bar London clubs) is extremely different. Most Northern clubs have a very reasonable flat fee, or comission after dancers make a certain amount.

I came across this article which caused quote a stir, and I was shocked to see just how many dancers were defending ‘extras’.

I then saw this on navigating consent in a lap-dancing club. I appreciate the terms ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ are extremely problematic, but they remain a short-hand that both workers and punters alike understand. A clean club means zero tolerance for drugs, often workers cannot drink alcohol, and zero touching. This makes security’s job extremely easy, they know what to look out for. A clean club means asserting the rules to customers is extremely easy. A dirty club is usually an extremely unpleasant place to work. Experienced dancers will mostly know of these via word of mouth, and they can choose (as much as any worker can choose) whether to work in them or not. Newcomers will think these clubs are the norm.

Abiding by the rules isn’t naive or exclusive to lap dancing clubs. Many of the pubs in Liverpool city centre are in agreement that they won’t undercut each other or run themed events on the same night. There is always plenty of business to go around. Many companies agree on minimum prices.

This isn’t about a hierarchy of sex work it is about dancers and all other club staff having the right to work in the environment of their choosing. There is nothing whorephobic or slutshaming about this. A lap-dancing club should be just that, no-contact dancing. If somebody wants to purchase contact sexual services they can visit a brothel or independent sex worker. The same way a glamour model has the right to just pose, and a sex phone line operator has the right to merely speak and not even be seen.

It isn’t just about money or jealousy or market competition. Nor is it about privileged dancers versus impoverished ones given that most dancers I have ever met do not offer extras in clubs regardless of their bank balance. What workers do outside of the club is their own business, but in the club, you must have respect for your fellow workers. There really is no need to be offering sexual services in a lap-dancing club. I have met one dancer who was fired for gross misconduct who was actually giving dances away for free.

Today twitter alerted me to this article on a Bristol lap-dancing club Personally I am very glad that clubs are regulated and touch is not allowed. When dancers breach these rules, they are making it harder for security and for other dancers to assert the rules, as well as risking every worker’s job. Clubs are a strange little bubble. In UK clubs you sign a contract to work, clearly telling you the rules. There are signs around the club and the changing rooms reminding all of the rules. As the fabulous Charlotte Shane commented on twitter, a sex worker doesn’t have the right to do whatever they want, wherever they want and insist they are no consequences for other workers.

The campaigners are looking for any reason to close clubs down. Don’t give them the fuel to ruin livelihoods.