Exotic dancing may sound glamorous and exciting, especially when someone thinks about being in spotlight on the main stage. However, there are many things to worry about other than what g-string you’re going to wear or what role you’re going to play tonight.
There are several lessons to be learned for new dancers that don’t involve the stripper pole or how to entice a customer out of another $20 bill. Tips about safety, money and relationships can help a dancer maintain a career in the exotic dancing industry:
- Ask about security ahead of time. After you’ve worked your first shift and it’s time to walk to your car past that creepy customer outside is not the time to worry about security and safety measures. During your audition or when you find out you’ve been hired is the time to ask your manager about safety. Find out what the policies are concerning your safety out of the club, on the parking lot, both before and after your shifts. Ask questions about security in the club. Knowing how to quickly cue the bouncer that there’s a problem with a customer can save you a lot of trouble and hassle. Learn where the bouncers usually hang out in the club watching for trouble. Be sure to introduce yourself to the security guards and attempt to make friends with them — they will be your rescuers.
- Be clear on the house rules and code of conduct. Know definitively what the policy is on customers touching you, how you are supposed to process tips, what the standards are for commission, etc. Ask your manager about all specifics you need to know, including how much time you’re supposed to spend on the floor, policies about your dance routines and anything else that seems important that is made specifically clear during the hiring interview or first-night briefing.
- Keep your money hidden. For your own safety, do not flash your cash around. Customers may wait for you outside to rob you if they think you have a ton of cash from your shift. Other dancers may attempt to steal your money, if you show it off and leave it within plain sight. Keep it hidden. Although other dancers may call themselves your “friends”, human nature dictates that we worry about ourselves first, friends later and “friends” never. Keep your money close and remember: if you don’t hold it, you don’t own it.
- Be nice to everyone else working in the club. When you’re the new kid on the block, it’s essential for you to try to make friends where you can. An exotic dance club is an extremely competitive working environment where it’s conflicts are common. Do your best to make friends or at least be friendly with everyone there. The bar staff and security personnel can really help you out of tight jams, especially if you’re friends. They may be more willing to help you out or keep an eye on you, if they like you. Additionally, other dancers may help you out with difficult customers if you become friends. Otherwise, beware of them. They may set you up for trouble.
- Stay within your comfort levels. Set your personal boundaries about what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do as a dancer. Decide where it’s ok for a customer to touch you and where it is not. And, keep in mind that lap dancing is an entirely different experience than dancing on stage. It’s much more personal, which may or may not be acceptable for you. Once you’ve set your personal limits, don’t allow someone, even your manager, to sway you from them. You can always walk away from a club, a customer or a dance request simply because you are uncomfortable. Additionally, be prepared to report a customer to security if he or she consistently asks you to perform services beyond the regular offerings of the club.
- Be in control. Drugs and alcohol use have no place in a professional dancer’s routine. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while performing or working in the club can cause on-stage faux-paux, reduced inhibitions and overall bad judgments when working with clients and customers. It’s just never a good idea to loosen yourself up so much you may have a judgment lapse and do something you shouldn’t. Additionally, being in control means acting confidently and always being conscious of your actions both on-stage and in customers’ presence. Be smart about how you act and what you say, never leading a customer on to believe more is being offered than really is. Also, be careful about how you position your body if you don’t want customer’s taking advantage of you and touching you when you don’t intend on it. You can deter them from being able to touch you if you’re smart about how you move and where you put yourself.
- Get payment first before dancing for private sessions. Lap dancers and private dancers should always request payment before anything starts happening, much like escorts. Cash should be given up front before any clothes come off or any bumping and grinding begins. Most customers are honest and wouldn’t’ intend to cheat a dancer out of her or his money, but others will try to get more for their money by waiting to pay until later.
- Stay away from drunks. That also goes for other addicts, as they are unpredictable. That’s not to say that the regular customer who is a bit tipsy isn’t a good bet, but all dancers should stay away from the belligerent fool who is drunk in the corner. He could be a safety concern, or simply become abusive in his language or other actions if you don’t entirely please him the way he expects.
- Know there will be good nights and there will be bad ones. While you may make $1,000 on one Saturday night, that isn’t to say that every Saturday night (or other nights of the week) will offer up similar rewards. Sometimes, clients are extremely free-flowing with their cash, other times they are pretty stingy. Avoid setting a budget based on your best nights’ earnings. Establish your regular budget based on your worst night’s earnings in order to have a realistic idea of what you can expect to make. The extra is just gravy!
- Keep some money in savings. You won’t be dancing forever. And, you won’t always be able to dance every shift you hope to. Dancers get the flu or allergies, just like everyone else. You’ll need some savings stored up for rainy days, sick days or days off.
- Have a life outside of dancing. Some dancers get so wrapped up in the dancing world that they forget about their friends, family and other relationships that were important to them before they hit the big stage. Working at night is hard, but it’s essential to maintain a “day” life so that you can keep in touch with friends, have lunch with your mom, attend your children’s activities at school or have date night with a special someone. Keeping a “day” life is also necessary to help you keep a sense of who you are, without the dance career looming overhead. It’s important to remember who you are, what you like to do and how you hope to lead your life when you’re not onstage or in a customer’s lap.
- Someone is always going to get more attention than you. It’s fun to be the new girl, because the customers are always excited to see you perform and to learn more about you. However, you will only be the new girl for so long until another dancer comes along and takes your title. “Fresh meat” will always attract attention, just as any dancer who comes up with a new role or dance for the clients. You won’t always be the main attraction, and that’s OK. This is why people tour.