Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dance Styles and Stage Shows: From 1982 to present, Vol. I

Since I have been dancing for the last 30 years off and on, I have seen a lot of change in dance styles and shows.

When I first started at the Pink Poodle, we had no pole.  None of us had worked in a club that had poles.  Pole dancing was not even a phrase back then.  What we did have on that stage was: a puffy chair, big, burgundy, velvet curtains in which we would enter directly from our dressing room.  That was it. There was a bit of a built in "shelf" or an overhanging structure that was part of the wall on the left side of the stage.  Some of the more athletic dancers (moi) would use this lift ourselves and body swing a bit.

Almost all of the dancers used a blanket for floor work.  I actually miss that.  I just havent' found the right blanket:-(  I believe the blanket act really saved my knees.  I mean, how many 53 (tomorrow) year old dancers do you know without knee problems?

The oldest dancer I knew there (although she would never admit it) was "Diana".  If her overly tanned skin didn't give her age away, her dancing did.  What she did was quite elegant.  Almost like the tableau styles of the early 20th century.  ( If you have ever seen Boardwalk Empire.  The burlesque scenes with the amazing Gretchen Mol.  This is pretty similar).  She had her blanket and did floor work.  But she never spread her legs, or blatantly touched herself.  She had these slow, lyrical movements she would do with mostly her hands and arms.  Being a baby stripper at the time, I didn't get it.  But now, I get it.  She had a style and stuck to it.  There is something to be said about finding a style that works for you.  However, there is a fine line between being an original and seeming dated because you haven't bothered to tweak your style to make it more modern.

The other girls were more energetic or nasty.  Nasty, not in the booty-poppin' way, but just nasty.  Spread eagle right in your face nasty.  Since there were no lap dances back then, the patrons would love to sit right up at the stage to get a good view.  (We used to jokingly call that 'gynocology row').

I had my own ideas about dancing.  I thought that a healthy, lean body with tons of energy was the most beautiful thing.  I still do.  I have been blessed to have a lot of energy.  Sometimes, too much, lol!.  I used to love to get a slight running start and "dive" on my blanket to make it slide across the stage.  I remember Diana constantly telling me to slow down because it wasn't 'sexy'.  I couldn't help myself!

But I loved the feeling of speed, energy, flipping my body this way and that.  I even added some break dancing stuff.  I still dance that way, but I get the need for speed fed by a spinning pole.

I'll write more about this soon.  There is so much change and evolution of exotic dancing.  I can't write this in one session:-(.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Workmen's Comp"

Ah yes!  Workman's Comp.  Now here is a term we don't hear about too much these days.  Once upon a time, strip clubs had this item.  Basically, it's a form of insurance wage replacement and medical benefits to employees who are injured during their term of employment at the location in which they are employed.  However, if the employee accepts workman's compensation, they give up the right to sue their employer.

The Pink Poodle employed us as part-time entertainers.  I had injured my knee while working.  I took a week off and I was compensated.  So simple.  There was another club, a bikini bar called The Brass Rail.  The dancers there would make a video of themselves dancing topless.  They would play this video on a film screen while the dancer danced on stage in a bikini.  Therefore, they were considered a "topless club".  At the time, the dancers were also employed as cocktail servers.  They had a drink quota.  If a dancer worked there at least fours shifts per week, she was entitled to low cost health insurance.

I realize clubs these days consider us independent contractors.  I know quite a few club owners who have problems keeping their dancers.  I've heard rumors of certain clubs in Southern California starting to give cash incentives to dancers who show up early or work a certain amount of shifts.  

I recall that neither the Pink Poodle or the Brass Rail had too many problems with dancers not showing up or completing their shifts.

I know that offering health insurance is not going to happen.  In the 1980's and 90's it was affordable.  Now, in the USA, I think anyone who has paid attention to the news or has tried to purchase health insurance knows the answer to that.

The fact that some clubs are deciding to pay us instead of the other way around is a small, positive start.