My dance virginity was given away for free, as part of a three for one burger special that the club is running to try attract clientele in the dearth of winter. One could pay R100 for a burger, drink and table dance before 9 pm. I value myself, and I wasn’t looking for it. I was literally just crossing the floor to get to the bathroom when these two guys were like ‘you!’ and I was like ‘what!?’ and they were like ‘we bought the special but didn’t know who we wanted to dance for us but now we know it’s you’.
The bling must’ve been working in spite of itself.
I was like ‘err no I’ve just started and I don’t know how to do it’. They didn’t seem to care. I was guessing I had to say yes to very insistent customers. I wasn’t sure what would happen if management saw me saying no to them. I tried to make them buy me a double tequila shot first but there was no time – it was 5 to 9 and the special was almost up. But I insisted and they hurried the waiters. I took my shot. We went into one of the open booths with a low table at the back. I was hoping it was dark enough that no one else in the club would see. I moved the table out the way – I was too tall anyway to dance on it under the low ceiling. I waited for the song to finish and took off my shoes – normal table dances are three songs all off. The special was two and I only had to take off my bra. I was shaking.
The song changed.
I ground my hips, slowly, tried looking them in the eye like the YouTube videos instructed (make eye contact!) I felt like an idiot. The pink corset was tricky to get off. ‘Oh wow you have such beautiful natural tits! I like them natural!’ – ‘Thank you’. I’ve watched Closer. This seems to be a reasonable thing to say to the compliments from people whose opinions don’t matter but whose money does. Although in this case there was no money, not for me anyway. The burger special only pays for the burger and beer. Song over, I put my bra and shoes back on. ‘Wow I even got hard!’ the same dude exclaims. With a ‘thank you’, I leave.
About twenty minutes later I’m standing in the smoking lounge when some old white guy comes up to me, opens his wallet and flashes a thousand rand. ‘Are you new?’ His voice is high-pitched and he looks like a paedophile, still wearing his beige raincoat with big round glasses frames. I don’t think I have seen a thousand rand in cash ever. You want a VIP dance? I ask. He nods. Relief – maybe I can be good at this after all. So I take him upstairs, get a key to close the velvet red curtain of the VIP tent, set my timer to fifteen minutes and clocked the curtains closed. It was just him and me. I make eye contact and climb onto his lap.
Before I know what’s going on he rips off his shirt revealing the long scar down the centre of his chest and pulls me towards him so that my breasts rub along his chest. He smells old, like mothballs and sour milk. As I grind on his lap in what can only really be described as a throwback to being twelve and having dry sex which in this case feels more intimate than some of the wet sex of my recent past. He pulls on my nipples and forces my body towards him so that he can put them in his mouth. Its disgustingly sensual. I want to push him away but I’m not sure that’s allowed. I mean pussy and arsehole are off limits, does that make the rest fair game?
I don’t want to get in trouble with management.
His touch is very sexual and my body is registering this, but in the context of my overall disdain and revulsion for him its quickly turning the experience into the most unbelievable horror. Still, for some fucked up reason, I am trying to stay true to YouTube and maintain eye contact.
The dance takes forever. Fifteen minutes becomes a lifetime. When it’s finally over I feel sick. And my demeanour in this pink corset is unfamiliar. My voice is higher and sweeter as I try double guess what he wants me to say, tailor my answers to minimal friction. An economy based on people liking you: Despite the sight of him making me want to vomit, I smile, tilt my head, dart my eyes down, look up through long eyelashes; Despite the fact that he disgusts me I want confirmation that I have done a good job. I think he knows this about new girls and that’s why he chose me tonight.
He hands me the thousand rand and I walk downstairs. A girl I know from school who was a few years below me is on the couch. She’s been working here for seven months already but we’re acquaintances not friends. She’s sitting on the sofa with a few other dancers.
‘Err a lap dance,’ I ask, ‘is like grinding on someone’s lap right?’
‘Yup,’ she says. Wow it feels fucking intimate. She looks at me and says ‘Yup.’
I looked for Kay, otherwise known as Silky in the club, the only other person I know from before, and spot her through the curtains in a VIP dance on the mezzanine level being held in wheelbarrow position, face and forearms down on the table looking like she’s genuinely enjoying it while a customer stands between her legs grinding.
When I catch up with her later I tell her about my dance – that it felt weird. She reminds me that we are always in control and don’t have to do anything I don’t want to. Was I out of control? I’m not sure. Do you have to let them suck your nipples? ‘No, only let them do what you are comfortable with’. But it might be too late, I might’ve already sold my soul downstream. I get the whole it’s empowering to use objectification culture and patriarchy to your benefit, but what kills me is the intimacy. Maybe it’s because there is no actual sex allowed, theres more emphasis on the supposed connection – the cuddling and dancing and chatting and rubbing. And that forward grind – the one when you are facing them, touching their erections through their pants, where my body seems to respond to it even though my mind is somewhere else… it made me feel like I was betraying myself, somehow. ‘We’ll do a double dance’, she promises, ‘so I can show you how it’s done’.
The night continues. Clients buy me drinks. I don’t have to go on stage because it’s my first night. But at 11pm I have to join the other girls as they walk topless across the stage and through the club. A cattle parade that happens every night called ‘Big Spender’. The DJ finishes it with, ‘what you see is what you get, all our girls are very professional at table dancing and lap dancing!’ which is ironic because I literally have no idea what I’m doing.
I chat up another customer. He’s drunk and spends half of his dance on his feet prancing around the booth with me in a tango embrace – ‘if you dance for me I must dance for you’. Afterwards I’m sitting with him at his table when Silky slides up and sits on my lap. ‘I see you’ve met my girlfriend’ she croons, kissing me on the lips, the taste of Redbull vodka on her tongue. I knew she’d be a good kisser. ‘Come take us for a double dance’. He acts like he’s into it but after some cajoling we can see he’s not going to part with more money. We finish his plate of nachos and move on.
I draw blank on a group of college going Englishmen who I chat to like old friends. Somehow I got caught up in wanting this group to like something closer to the real me – like the educated me but still with this weird sickly sweet stripper edge. Which in this case made me inappropriate lap dance material. They were looking for someone sluttier.
Also check out our other series by a stripper, entertainer and performer Hephzibah.
There is also this awesome piece about a woman who has an intense interaction with a stripper, it’s sensual.
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