Romeo is sitting at the table next to mine. I suss out his Tag Heuer watch and patent leather shoes as I saunter over and greet him with a firm handshake so he knows he’s in my office.
We chat, have a few drinks and then the question… lap dance? Even after a year, I would much rather be asked to dance than have to ask. ‘No thank you, you’re not my type,’ he says. I smile gracefully and move on. Rejection is a day-to-day occurrence. Then you get the shifty glances from another dancer. You know she has bookmarked him for later. And so it continues throughout the evening, over and over. This is the life of an exotic dancer.
BORN TO BE WILD?
I never thought I was going to end up doing this for a living, or enjoying it for that matter. I grew up in East London and went to a great school. I did well in class, was involved in sport and cultural activities, and loved music and dancing. My parents were fairly conservative and we didn’t struggle financially. I had a pretty normal upbringing. I dated my first boyfriend for four years and went through all the norms of growing up. I didn’t have the opportunity to study but, like many young women, did promotions and events to support myself.
I moved to Cape Town in 2005 and started working for an events company, soon moving on to nightclubs and restaurants. The nightlife was for me. Through the events industry I made friends with a few dancers and was soon intrigued. On one drunken occasion I told Raven, a dancer, that I wanted to try stripping. She called me one day asking if I wanted to try a ‘boys’ night’, and I went for it.
I was so nervous. Sexy underwear – check. Music – check. 10 tequilas – check.
In all honesty, I went out there and felt so powerful. It was crazy. The clothes came off and I was fine. I had survived. From there I started doing bachelor parties and soon started working in clubs.
So what’s my ‘office’ like? Well, strip clubs are slowly losing their ‘old dirty man’ reputation. The club I work at is filled with young, up-and-coming professionals and models who are mingling, chatting and having a great time. There is an electric, sexy atmosphere.
Some men come for the company of someone with no strings attached. They spend money for us to sit and listen. Believe it. And they talk to us about you – their wife or girlfriend. They know when they walk out the door, it’s all quickly forgotten and they feel better for it. Service rendered with a smile. Some of my clients pay for a dance and we just sit and talk in the privacy of the booth away from the masses in the club.
Then there is the nudity. Women are sexy and beautiful no matter what shape or size. Guys enjoy the fantasy, the glimpse of something unobtainable. Ladies, this does not mean your man loves you any less. It’s a fantasy. One that just happens to make me money!
The money in dancing is great. This is perhaps one profession that IS credit-crunch proof, although there are ups and downs as in any other business. You have your good days and bad – walking out with nothing one night and R10 000 the next. And it’s hard work. You are in stilettos from 7pm to 4am and dancing, moving, upstairs and downstairs.
Often I meet really nice guys in the club I dance for. But it’s not easy. Everyone wants to sleep with a stripper – no one wants to date one. So despite the fact that people think we have amazing sex lives and date constantly, we don’t. Well, not me anyway. And it can get lonely. So when you see a girl on stage, smiling and swinging around the pole, realise she may be thinking of the guy she loves and whether or not he loves her back. We are real people, with real emotions – it’s just easier for us to take our clothes off. This takes guts and a huge level of confidence.
Hilarious things happen too. I’ve lost a hair extension mid-dance and subtly had to curl it round my finger and hide it before the gentlemen in front of me thought I was going bald. I’ve fallen off a guy’s lap and, just last night, accidentally flung one of my shoes across the club. All you can do is laugh, smile and hope a customer thought that was cute.
I am not going to be dancing for the rest of my life. I have ambitions. This is merely a stepping-stone – one which has opened doors. I have recently been a part of an American TV show and I plan to, ultimately, study further and travel. You see, there’s very little difference between you and I. I have great friends, a great apartment and a healthy lifestyle. The only difference? I work naked.