Friday, July 19, 2013

Lap Dancer Versus Stripper

It's TonyN here and I am going to let Chasmal lead on the Leeds aspect. Today I want to pick up on a discussion I had on twitter with an ex dancer and a current one. Yes I know the title sounds like a porno film but it should give google some fun.

I made reference to strippers as a job title and I had it explained that not every dancer likes that term some prefer Lap dancer although not every dancer likes that term either. The reason being is the imagery and connotations that each term brings and yes there is a stigma that affects people for exercising a free choice, however Edie has done a fine piece about stigma on moronwatch (here) so would like to concentrate on the perspective that come up in discussions.

So I went to see striptease for the first time in a pub in Battersea and 90% of my personal experiences come from the London pub strip scene. In that time I grew up with the term stripper so it is probably natural that is the one I subconsciously identify with. So in the 80s' and early 90s' striptease was the pub and working mans club with the only exceptions being Carnival and Sunset Strip both of which were in Soho (London) and were laid out like cinemas were you paid once and could stay as long as you like. But in general the pubs didn't have stages and the dancers walked around. Come 1995 with Lap and Table Dancing coming in from America there was a push to change the industry from where the pub paid the dancers to bring customers in to dancers paying clubs to work there and one on one dancing being how money was earned.

So you have the walk around customer interaction compared to the bump and grind lap dance (dancers don't shoot me yet please). Both have been stigmatised stripper supposedly being cheap uneducated working class girls who can't earn money any other way and Lap Dancers supposedly up market drug addicts who will do anything for their next fix. Strangely this is still the view of places like Mumsnet where the feminist section will insult anyone who dares question their beliefs and if anyone seems to be posting stuff they can't answer they will soon get banned. And these myths keep on rolling on and on and on because people can't deal with the truth that there are dancers who are intelligent, articulate and educated who work both aspects of the industry.

So the discussion we were having on twitter did lead to the issue of pubs being more working class that the clubs or they targeted at a different audience. And for a while this was true but London adapted and many pubs moved to a more club like environment. But there are still the traditional strip pubs just that they have stages and dancers can't get close to the customers.And in the club we no longer have any physical contact and the concept of a lap dance as an accurate description of what goes on is laughable.

So stripper, lap dancer or exoctic dancer (which is how I first saw boards outside pubs in the 80s' describing what is going on) it still is a label and stigma. And yet I have met dancers from all over the world who are educated, intelligent and making a free choice. Dancers who have competed in the Olympics, have been highly qualified sports people, educated at some of the best universities in the world, who can talk about the higgs boson with authority and that are genuinely wonderful warm people. The problem being so long as people put labels on other people everyone suffers. Working Class or Upper Class. Single, married or divorced. They are people, not objects, with a wonderfully diverse nature that want to provide entertainment. Do people really believe that any label, any stigma is anything other than Objectification of the worst sort? As to are the pubs now still working class, not so much at least in london as there is a pretty big choice of where dancers can work be it the more traditional pub or the more club like pub dancers can work across the spectrum of venues and what may have been true 25 years ago has changed.

I know there was a difference between the pubs and the clubs in the 90s' and that the labels from that period still exist but I get annoyed because those labels still carry a stigma of belief even if the reality is complete different. When are people going to stop hating and start appreciating?

Okay so that is my take and it is only ever a personal opinion but I look forward to the day that the labels that are covers for hate speak are recognised for what they are.

TonyN (


  1. One geeky observation... I have noticed that if I type in 'lap dancing clubs' into google news it tends to return mostly UK related articles but type in 'strip clubs' then it's all the American stories. Thought it would have been the other way around to be honest?

    1. I guess it is the branding, lap dancing helps sell the fantasy to new customers. Strip or lap both are adult entertainers and unfortunately the religious/anti sex feminists use the stigma that is conjured by those names to hide the hate to the general public.