Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Exposing lap dancing.
If you are local you may have seen today's Herald, the front page features the headline - Pole dancing club for Barbican - you can read the full article here. The annoying factor is that the club owner is using the title of pole dancing club rather than lap dancing club when the club is clearly going to involve lap dancing. This whole scenario throws up all sorts of problems for the art of dance, firstly it brings the negative image of sleazy pole dancing back into the headlines and secondly it does not highlight the difference between fitness pole dancing, lap dancing and club pole dancing.
Lap dancing is used as a form of titillation, it is usually about women stripping in return for money. Each club has their own rule and the law states that a lap dance should not involve physical contact, lap dancing is meant to be performed at a minimum of 3 feet away from the customer, in reality I have never visited any lap dancing where these rules are followed. I have also spoken to girls who work in lap dancing clubs who are expected to offer extra services to customers such as Lesbian dances and pelvic grinding.
Here are a few other home truths about lap dancing clubs, the lap dancers have to pay to work at the clubs usually in the form of a house fee, on top of the house fee the lap dancers have to pay commission out of the money they earn from their lap dances. I was the house manager (mum) for a lap dancing club for a short while and was horrified to watch some girls getting into debt because they did not earn enough money to pay their house fees.
To add insult to injury lap dancers are told that they must be self employed, the owners refuse to take responsibility for the girls therefore the girls are required to pay their own tax and insurance. Some clubs will even insist that the girls dance topless in the club for free, imagine providing cheap entertainment to draw men into a club and then not getting paid for it. The club owners earn money from the door fee, the vastly overpriced drinks, inflated cash machine withdrawal prices as well as the money they take off the lap dancers.
Lap dancing clubs in general do not look after their staff, they do not provide support for their girls, they do not generally provide staff training or deal responsibly with health and safety issues surrounding the girls . Also if you think it is only the girls who are exploited in the lap dancing clubs then think about the clientele who visit such establishments, would you pay £20 for a 3 minute dance where the girl is only naked for the last few seconds of the dance? Would you still pay that money if you knew that up to 50% was gong straight back to the club owner? OK so most lap dancing clubs do have poles in them and most lap dancers will pole dance during their evenings work, standards of pole dancing within clubs will vary, the current Miss Pole Dance UK 2007 is a lap dancer and dances beautifully, however there are also girls working within the lap dancing industry who can't dance to save their lives.
I have worked with ladies who have become trapped within the industry either because of drug addictions (some clubs are known for actively encouraging their girls to take substances such as cocaine as it makes the girls more relaxed with customers) or trapped because they reach an age where the club doesn't want them any more and they then find it difficult to move to another job, lap dancing generally doesn't look good on one's CV. I have also talked to girls who been verbally or physically abused by club owners. I could shock with you with worse stories or name and shame particular clubs / club owners but I think you get the general idea.
My point is that I have been working hard for the last 5 years to build up my fitness pole dancing business, in that time I have also been ranked highly in the national pole dancing scene and have reached the finals of Miss Pole Dance UK for the last three years and got through to the finals of Pole Divas 2007 after winning the South West heat. My business now has 9 employees, all of whom are first aid trained, fitness qualified and receive ongoing staff training, running a small business is very hard especially in these current climates and attaining a high standard of pole dancing is also very challenging both physically and mentally. To then have someone look down their nose at you because they assume that what you do is no different to the antics that occur within a lap dancing club is deeply offensive and shows extreme ignorance from the accusing party.
It is not just me that has got my hackles up over the Herald article, here are a few of the comments from the Herald website:
"Miss_Anthrope there is a pole dancing school behind Mutley Plain which has been featured in a couple of documentaries about Pole dancing, both competative and occupational, so yes it is an athletic pastime envied and therefore degraded by a majority of women these days as they can`t get their own lardy bottoms off a chair let alone hang off a pole with any degree of skill. By the way I have never been in an operating theatre or a prison but have a pretty good idea what happens in them - we have a television a marvellous device that keeps people informed of all sorts of wonderful things that go on in the world without the need to actually go in them if you don`t want to. Not arrived in Mannamead yet?" Rhetorician, Plymouth.
"I feel sorry for the residents of the barbican,having a seedy club like this being forced upon them,and for what purpose? to keep creepy men happy." Michaeal S, Southway.
"Didn't you notice, Rhetorician, that everyone else was avoiding the obvious and not really very funny 'Poles' pun? So pole dancing is an 'athletic and skillful non contact spectacle' is it? That's an amazing statement considering you have (apparently) never seen it in action. What next? Drunken projectile vomitting is really an ethanol enhanced exhibition of abdominal excavation dexterity? " Miss_Anthrope, Mannamead.
"Suzannah - less of the "old" please, age is not a precondition for appreciating the looks of pretty ladies. It is well documented that the most likely group of people to criticise women are...other women, mostly because of jealousy. This group are usually past their sell-by date, have a dress size a few sizes larger than a Russian shot-putter and have a face like a slate-layers nail bag. And just because a "dolly bird" wants to earn a living by wrapping herself around a pole, it does not make her a bad person." RobRoy, South Yard.
I will be speaking to the editor of the Hearld - Bill Martin and have already spokn with Stuart Able who wrote the article. I will let you know what response I get.
Well my pole now beckons so I will try to calm down, check out some of the other comments on the thisisplymouth website and feel free to add your own,