As dancers, it’s easy — at times — to feel like we are powerless. Often times I feel like we are donkeys from Disney’s Pinnocchio movie, with the evil stage coach master corralling us and keeping us prisoner to dance and perform on their terms. Let me elaborate:
At my club, I find that leaving for the evening is extremely stressful. When I ask “Mom” or “Dad” to leave for the night, I find it difficult to hear a simple “Yes.” The other night, a Tuesday, I had been there since 6 p.m. and it was after midnight when I asked if I could leave. It is worth noting that at the end of the most recent showtime, I had collected less than $10 — a mere pittance compared to what I am usually tipped during showtime. I asked Mom if I could leave, and she asked what I had made during showtime, and I told her, along with how long I had been there. She said to me, “Well, I feel like there is still money to be made out here. Let’s give it some more time.” I obliged, and I went through the evening for nearly 2 more hours and only had two other private dances and a few dollars in stage tips (it was a very slow night.) Feet aching and back sore, I walked into the dressing room to find Mom. “Can I leave now? I really am not making money out here,” I asked. She took a deep breath and said, in an extremely irritable tone, “Oh shit, I was hoping I would buy more time. Yeah, I guess you can go.” Prompting me to offer an, “I’m sorry, I’m just really tired,” to which I received no response.
I shouldn’t have apologized! She made me feel guilty for wanting to leave! Part of the massive appeal of this job is the fact that we as dancers are free to make our own schedules, to arrive when we feel is best, to make our money, and to leave when we are ready to. Unless there is a predetermined shift or schedule laid out, it is no business of the club owner to dictate when I can and can’t leave. It causes me to feel extremely anxious and panicked when I am told that I am “not allowed” to leave. I am sure there is some deep rooted psychological explanation for my hatred of feeling trapped, but either way, this is America and I should be free to leave a place of business when I please. It makes me feel small and helpless when I am contradicted.
However, it is in these moments that I must remember, I am far from powerless. In fact, the dancers are the ones who hold all the power. Not only are we the ones responsible for the success and vitality of the club in which we work, but we are the sole proprietors of our own self employed business. Men (and women) come to us to shell out their hard earned or easily acquired cash. It is their loneliness, their sexual desires, their hunger for wanting a woman to tell him he is attractive or unique or special that propel them to come to a club and pay for this affirmation. Even the less lonely ones come to a strip club to gaze upon a select group of women for their own enjoyment, or for entertainment, or to find a dirty stripper who is willing to do “extras” for them off the clock (a sickening and grotesque thought, but it does in fact happen. Never with me; not on my life.)
The next time I feel trapped or panicked or in need of escape, I will remind myself of this power I possess, and what I am there for: financial security for myself, for my man, for my education, and for my future. And I will get back up on that stage and dance with every ounce of power that is in me.
-Bad Vixen xoxxxxo