It was an excruciatingly slow Monday night. I took one look around the empty main floor and moseyed upstairs to our VIP section to see if any prospective money bags were hiding next to the bar. That’s when I saw Alvin, sitting alone, looking unamused. I approached him a little warily but the club was dead so I thought, “Fuck it” — it seemed worth a try. He was prickly at first but quickly warmed up. Instead of dances or private rooms, Alvin seemed perfectly content with chatting and tipping me a couple of twenties every few songs. We hung out most of the night and at one point brought another dancer over to hold a contest: Whoever could build the highest structure out of one hundred $1 bills would take home two of the $100 structures and the other dancer would take home the remaining structure. At the very end of the night he ended up buying some dances and made sure to tip for each one.
Alvin was an exemplary strip club customer. It wasn’t just that he gave me a handsome bundle of money; it was that he clearly respected the value of my time and had fun while doing so. Alvin, however, had been a strip club patron for years before he met me and had surely been taught a thing or two by the strippers who came before me.
About two years before I met Alvin, I saw a group of young guys sporting Cal gear walk into my club. They looked instantly out of place. After about 30 minutes, none of them had spent any money, the strippers were ignoring them, and their group looked disappointed. I walked up to them and made a quick introduction: They were part of a frat and none of them believed that I too went to Cal. They even missed my sarcasm and agreed when I said, “Everyone knows a good set of boobs can’t be attached to a brain!” I rolled my eyes, laughed at them, and moved on.
Needless to say, their night didn’t get any better and they all slunk out the door after another 20 minutes. Don’t be like this sad, dejected little group — give the Bears something to be proud of! Here’s a list of do’s and dont’s that will put you on the path to becoming the Alvins of the strip club world:
- First, if you don’t have much money but still want to go to a strip club, don’t go. If your wallet is going to be strained by the entrance fee (anywhere from $15-$80), the dancers won’t appreciate someone who just came to gawk and you’ll feel as awkward as early-years Drake.
- If you don’t want a lap dance but still want to see what the club is like, sit at the stage and tip dancers at least $2 per song. If you sit at the stage and consistently don’t tip, you might find your drink “accidentally” knocked onto your lap.
- Understand that we aren’t paid a salary. If you don’t pay us for our time, you’re taking away our chances at making money elsewhere and the stripper gods will make sure your karma catches up with you.
- Don’t try to take up our time by telling us that “some girl at Zeitgeist would drop her pants for free” for you. We really don’t care. If you try this tactic, you will never know the beauty that is our perfumed butt cheeks clapping millimeters from your face (for a fee).
- Make sure you tip us when you buy a dance. We’re doing something a helluva lot more exciting than the flirty smile you get when you tip your barista generously. So make sure to tip at least the courtesy 20 percent you would give anyone else in the service industry.
- No licking, no biting, no hair-pulling, no fighting, no slapping and no yelling. We don’t care that you think our boobs look like the tastiest thing since cronuts; you aren’t allowed to lick them unless we say so.
- When your buddy gets too drunk and forgets basic social rules we all learned in preschool, keep them in check. They might piss off someone badly enough to get your whole party kicked out onto the cold street where boobs and butts are — sadly for your horny ass — usually covered.
- If you have a specific fantasy or fetish and really want to see it fulfilled in a private dance (say, armpit licking or ball stomping), just politely ask a dancer if she’s willing to go along with it. If she agrees, make sure you tip her at least 40-50 percent for the extra physical and emotional work.
- If you’re a straight woman coming in with your guy friends or boyfriend, understand that we aren’t trying to compete with you. Also understand that we see you as just another customer, not someone who is “on our side” and therefore surely deserving of more leeway on the rules.
- If you see someone you know working there, don’t shout out their real name. Just say hi, let them know that it’s cool and that you won’t tell anyone else (not even telling other people but making them promise not to tell anyone else. Because we all learned in middle school that this never works).
- If you’ve spent all that you’d like to spend but are waiting around while your buddy is still busy licking armpits upstairs, make sure you tell dancers that you’ve run out of money as soon as they approach you. As long as you’ve contributed something to dancers’ incomes that night, we’ll appreciate it and won’t judge you.
- If you want to “get to know the real girl” behind the persona, it probably won’t ever happen. But it’s more likely to happen if you follow Alvin’s lead and respect the value of our time.
- Be prepared to enforce your own boundaries as well. Groups of friends (and sometimes dancers) often think it’s cute to rope the shy one of their group into taking part in an activity they would never agree to on their own (e.g. putting someone on stage, buying a rowdy dance, pressuring them into doing drugs or over-drinking, etc.). Don’t be the asshat who thrusts people into questionable situation.
- Finally, enjoy the show! We absolutely love customers who enjoy what we have to offer and are nice about it too. If you’re nice enough, you might even make it into the column of your favorite stripper’s school newspaper.
Trixie Mehraban writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact her at [email protected].