Lap dancing and strip clubs are all over the place. But what really happens inside them? And what if you're not OK with your boyfriend or mates paying women to take their clothes off?
Whilst strip clubs were once considered the pastime of pervy losers, they're now the go-to for stag dos and office nights out. There's currently over 295 lap dancing clubs in England alone, but going to one can throw up all sorts of dilemmas from upset girlfriends to the sudden discovery of a feminist conscience.
So how do you navigate these scantily-clad quandaries? TheSite finds out.
Should I go to a strip club?
'Gentlemen's clubs' make their money by charging you a lot for booze. They reel you in with sexy girls who dance on stage and offer 'private dances' for an extra fee. The more up-market places operate strict no-touching policies - or at least say they do - and you can get thrown out for groping.
"Strip clubs are loud overbearing places with most of the clientele over 50," says Roger*, 25. "I've only been to them when I'm drunk. At first it's pretty funny, but there's only so much cleavage that can be shoved in your face before you get bored and search for somewhere with cheaper drinks."
The main question to ask is: why are you going? Do you really want to see a woman take her clothes off? Or is it more you feel pressure from your mates? And if you have a girlfriend, how will she feel about it?
"You're going to have to decide what you want most. Is it to be with your friends in a strip club? Or do you want to feel OK about your relationship?" says Paula Hall, a sex therapist for Relate.
Another helpful question to ask yourself is: "Would I be happy if my girlfriend/sister/future daughter was a lap dancer?" Whatever you decide, if you're in a relationship, don't be tempted to lie about your choice.
There will be other blokes who are in the same moral/relationship predicament. So, if you're not keen on going, have a ring round and get together a sub-group of mates who'll go to a non-nude drinking establishment whilst the others are in the strip club. Pre-planning is key.
My boyfriend wants to go to a lap dancing club, should I mind?
It depends. Do you care? Some women accept it as standard stag-night behaviour, or even want to go along themselves. Others can't stand the thought of their boyfriend leering at another woman. Whichever, your opinion is valid, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
The first time I pulled my knickers down I felt my soul fall out.
"My boyfriend was going on a stag do and told me they were going to a strip club," says Fiona*, 25. "I'm really against them and told him I felt uncomfortable. But he argued if he didn't go, he would be a killjoy. In the end, I let him, but I felt sick the whole night."
"If you have a strong moral opinion then you need to tell him," says Paula. "For some women it's a deal breaker - it comes down to values. But try and steer clear of making it a moral debate. Simply say, 'I don't like the thought of you going and it makes me feel differently about you'. If they go anyway, or tell you you're overreacting, then you have to decide whether you want to continue the relationship or not."
The reality of being a stripper
Lap dancers are often thought of as empowered women making a huge wad of cash for swirling round a pole. Easy life, right?
Jennifer Hayashi Danns, now 28, an ex- stripper and author of Stripped: The bare reality of lap dancing has another point of view. "Lap dancing is packaged as harmless fun, but that's not the reality. How is stripping naked for a fully-clothed man empowering? It just humiliates everyone."
How much do strippers earn?
Lap dancers don't actually make the massive money people think. Instead, they have to pay a significant 'house fee'(sometimes up to £200) just to be allowed in the club, as well as around 25% commission on every private performance.
Taking your clothes off
People argue it's the dancer's choice to decide just how much skin to flash. And, technically this is true. However, competition between dancers, combined with the need to make back the house fee mean they often feel forced to reveal more than they're comfortable with.
"When the money dropped so did my personal standards," says Jennifer. "I was frightened of doing a full strip but, when money was tight, I did it. The first time I pulled my knickers down I felt my soul fall out."
Sexual and verbal abuse against lap dancers
Dancers are supposedly protected by the club bouncers. But when making a profit is so important it's hard for dancers to protect their rights. In a study of 300 strippers over 40% experienced verbal abuse and unwanted touching by customers.
"When stag dos come in they get into an intimidating pack mentality, but they bring in a lot of money," says Jennifer. "If one gropes you, or calls you ugly to your face and you get him kicked out, then you lose the whole group and possibly the entire night's income. Many of us turned a blind eye because we needed the money."
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