When I was in high school, I found my sexuality. I used my femininity as a way to cope with depression. I always admired exotic dancers and wondered how they performed so gracefully in front of a room full of strangers.
I don’t think people understand the full picture. Some try to portray dancers as whores, low-down dirty scum of the earth, women with no home training, women who don’t respect themselves. In reality, it’s the exact opposite and I’m tired of the way people talk about strippers.
Over the summer, I entered the world of exotic dancing which made for the best weeks of my life. The women I met were all so different, yet everyone was climbing a pole for something bigger than a small stage in the middle of a lounge. I started dancing for some extra cash, but stayed for the thrill of the stage and the women I met. Being on that stage made me feel alive, in that moment I was unstoppable and I was loved.
That stage can be empowering, but only when you’ve found your own self-worth. Working in the sex industry — an umbrella term which includes stripping, web-camming, prostitution, escorting and porn — provides endless possibilities. I met women who had children and were dancing to provide the best for them. I met women who were starting their own businesses and women who were starting careers but used stripping as a stepping stone.
In a world where it’s hard for women to reach the glass ceiling, stripping seems like an obvious choice. Stripping comes with a business — like mindset— the dancers set their own hours and price. It’s using what you already have naturally to make a profit. No one questions when a man profits off of women, their images and their bodies, but as soon as women try to make money in the same way, it’s a “cry for help.” Women are just turning the tables and people can’t seem to stop hating on the idea.
As fun as stripping sounds, mental and physical challenges come with the trade. You have to be somewhat mentally stable to withstand the club scene. You have to be able to tolerate the men that come into the club, especially the ones who can’t keep their hands to themselves. Women also must be prepared for issues with the other dancers in the club because not everyone is nice. At certain clubs, women destroy other dancers’ possessions when they are intimidated or they feel a dancer is taking their money.
Then there’s the physical challenge of actually being able to stay on that stage for your set — usually three songs, or longer if you want to make more money. Stamina and pace are key. Being able to stay on the stage longer is what will make you money. Stripping is physically demanding on your body — my knees would hurt so much, and sometimes it hurt just to walk. Strippers are in their heels for eight hours straight, sometimes more, for multiple nights in a row.
When you start stripping, it’ll take some time to get used to men staring at you. You’ll see the lust in their eyes and when you can play into that fantasy, they’ll throw all their money at you. That’s all it is — creating a fantasy for the club patrons.
Despite what some might think, stripping is not an easy route to the top. Yes, it’s quicker, but not easy. You have to be really dedicated. At the end of the day, your money depends on you and the person that comes into the club.
It’s time people stop judging strippers and start seeing the pole as an actual career choice. You might not agree with me, but nothing leads to more networking opportunities than stripping. So many businessmen and women come in the club and if you build a connection with your clients, they are more willing to assist you with your dreams. Whether it be starting a beauty company, your own dance studio, or a different business, someone walking into the club could be the key. This is in addition to the promoters coming into the club that could be willing to promote you and have you host shows for them, leading to even more opportunities.