By Amanda Geiling
Every single night is a gamble. As a dancer, you never know if you’ll be leaving the club with your rent folded neatly into a rubber band in your purse, or if you’ll be crying in a cab after struggling to even pay your tip out. We obviously always go in hoping to luck out, considering our job is really a steady balance of excellent sales skills and hitting the strip club jackpot. And sure, most nights we do okay, but there are rough nights, weeks and even months as a dancer, through the different seasons and holidays. We have busy seasons and slow seasons. The highest of highs and lowest of lows. Yet, the number one question I am constantly asked is, “So you’re a dancer, how much do you make a night?”
Asking anybody about their income is wildly inappropriate, no matter their career or profession, so why do people find it appropriate to ask strippers? Because all they’ve seen in movies and the media is the endless amounts of cash we shove into our bags and struggle to carry home every night? Or the other ridiculous extreme where we exchange our bodies for drugs and make our way to the street corner where we beg for extra pennies? Well, I am here to share my worst night at work, and my best night, so hopefully I can stop any of you in your tracks from asking something you shouldn’t. The truth is, we have no idea what we’re going to make on any given night, so stop fucking asking.
On my worst night of work I was feeling great, my makeup and hair done, excited to walk into work and make some much needed cash. I was early so I didn’t expect the club to be flooded with the high rollers yet, but I was still optimistic. Another hour passed and guys have started coming in… there’s hope! I was standing at the bar trying to look cute and approachable, maybe trick a guy into buying me a tequila soda. No takers? Fine! I guess i’ll have to put on my big girl Pleasers and go up to them.
I walked up to the first guy I laid eyes on. He proceeded to talk to me about his life I obviously didn’t care about for 20 minutes. When I finally asked him to get a dance, or at least get me a drink, he said “Actually, I’m just trying to settle in.” Classic. So I went to the next guy. He said yes to a dance but stopped me at one song after aggressively ripping my bra off in the first thirty seconds. I went to find my girlfriends and unwind. After talking for a second, I decided to get back out there and make some money. I walked up to another customer with confidence, and he immediately shooed me away. Yes, actual “shooing” happened. You know, that rude thing you do with your hand to an annoying fruit fly or another kind of small pest.
Now I’m starting to think that there’s something on my face. I asked my girlfriend, and she assured me I look pretty, and there was in fact no giant booger or blotch on my face. At this point, almost every guy in the club had rejected me. It was now well after midnight and I hadn’t even made tip-out yet. I went into the dressing room and just burst into tears. After my mini meltdown, I decided to fix my face, stop crying and get back out there. I looked at my phone and now the night was nearly over. I didn’t have tip-out, and I was going to miss my bus. I was fucked. I approached my boss to ask for reduced tip-out so I could hopefully run and catch my bus. Being the understanding and repulsive horn-dog he is, he squeezed my ass and smirked at me. I took that as a yes. I ran out of the club to the bus stop, tears still in my eyes and $20 in my work purse, with my self-esteem at an all time low.
On my best night ever, in five years of stripping, I ran into the club, later than usual and slightly intoxicated. I was wishing I was doing absolutely anything else that night, but my bills weren’t going to wait. I got dressed and attempted to go mingle with customers, but my attitude has me venting to one of my girlfriends instead. A guy at the bar called my girlfriend over, and I was left alone.
He introduced her to his friend and bought her a tequila shot, which she quickly turned around and offered to me, knowing I would down it like water. I took the shot and looked over to see his friend, a tall, skinny, older Greek man (let’s call him Tom for the sake of the story) obviously interested in me. His English wasn’t strong, but he complimented my freckles. We talked for about 5 minutes before Tom bought me a drink while handing me a hundred dollar bill. That instant stripper tingly feeling fills my body. This is going to be a good night.
We went in the back for a dance, I put my legs over his and flirted until the song came to an end, so I could start at the beginning of the next. The song ended, and I got up to start the lap dance when he told me to sit back down. He counted out a few more hundreds and told me he was genuinely enjoying the conversation so much, that he didn’t even need me to dance. More time passed, I finally did grind on him a bit, and he paid me an extremely generous tip. We sat and talked again. He kept sending me to the bar to get us drinks, occasionally adding in a new girl to dance and hang out with us. A few more hours of the same easy routine and many tequila sodas later, my bag was filled with beautiful, crisp hundred dollar bills. Ah, my love language.
Now, at the end of the day, my bills were paid, and I walked out of work feeling on top of the world with over three thousand dollars in my purse, more than most people make at their day job in a month. However, our nights aren’t all dependent on the money. Sure, some girls make thousands a night in private rooms, or at huge Vegas clubs. But my night with Tom was my best night, not only because of his insane generosity, but because of all the long nights and hustle I had put into my home club that felt like they had finally paid off. And without the pressure of a private room, or even really having to take my top off, I had realized that any night could be your best night, even when you run into work late with weeks of overdue bills. I was reminded why, as dancers, we do what we do. I remembered why we gamble.
Photos by Jake Zach Sachs