I Went to a Strip Club Out of Curiosity

 

I went to an afternoon shift at a local strip club to try and understand how these women behave on and off the performance stage to better understand why they work in the sex industry to begin with. 

The way sex workers are portrayed in the media is so different than real life and there is a real human aspect to the way strippers behave during their nightly shifts that the general public fails to observe. 

Purple lights highlighted the grey accented walls throughout the interior of the bar. My friend Chelsey and I were the first to arrive at Bare Fax Gentlemen’s Club located in the ByWard Market on Sunday afternoon. I had hoped this experience would give me a new understanding of the sex work industry. We waited patiently for the regular customers that were bound to stroll in any second, to then be followed by the dancers to take the stage. 

After thirty minutes of waiting, the disco balls began to spin and the men who appeared to be regulars made their way into the club. They made conversation with staff they seemed to already know. 

It was five minutes to 6 p.m. In ran a woman wearing a backpack. She seemed flustered, scrambling up the staircase that led to the private rooms. She would be the first dancer to perform. When she was ready, the woman made her way down the stairs, and took the stage. She entertained the small crowed of six people, myself and my friend Chelsey included. 

I paid very close attention to the woman’s face as she completed her routine. She seemed no older than twenty-four, and was very timid when it came to performing. Through her facial expressions, I was able to tell the dancer was doing eight-counts in her mind to stay on beat with the music playing. This further heightened my suspicion that she was new to this profession. 

Making her way off-stage, the dancer had her mind set on who she would approach. Behind me, an older gentleman around sixty-years old sat sipping a beer. The woman confidently approached the man, kneeling in front of him. Fifteen minutes later, the man followed the dancer up the stairs to the private dancing rooms. I had just witnessed her make a sale. 

However, while this dancer was still preforming, in walked another young girl who seemed to be about twenty-years old. She was thirty minutes late to her shift, although upon her arrival went straight to getting ready for her set. 

Once she came back downstairs, instead of going directly to the stage as she was meant to, the young woman made her way towards the bar. There sat a large man, around forty-years old. Once the girl had reached the bar, the man greeted her with a large hug. The two then proceeded to have a conversation for twenty minutes and the man bought her a drink.

Eventually, the DJ approached the dancer and told her she was meant to be on stage to perform her set. Brushing the DJ off, the dancer continued her conversation, and made her way to the stage five minutes later. 

During the performance I again payed attention to the woman’s facial expression. She seemed very unimpressed. She performed her routine with very little care, as though she did not want to be there. Though it was clear this woman was more experienced, the dancer prior to her had put more effort into her routine. It was clear the second woman would have rather been anywhere else than where she was in that very moment, alluding to the negative aspects of this intense industry. 

Often, people view the individuals who work in this business as less than human. While observing these women, both on and off the stage, I was able to pick up how human they really are. This allowed me to get a feel as to why these women partake in this industry in the first place, and how they behave in their workplace environment. 

I went into the club with existing knowledge that sex workers have many different appearances, but I learned that they are everyday looking people whose exterior would not allude to what industry they are involved in.

 I saw that there are many young women involved in sex work. Since these jobs do tend to pay well, it can seem more appealing than a minimum wage job when there are so many expenses in life. 

Witnessing the women interacting with their clients was a new experience. It is not like what is pictured in films and television, but these women do develop professional relationships with their regular clients. 

The sex industry involves many different types of business, including stripping, pornography and prostitution. Each individual partakes in this trade for different and personal reasons. Some do it for the money, while others become involved because they simply enjoy the work. 

Whichever it may be, this experience opened my eyes to see the industry in a new light.