Fancy competing with a conga while trying to earn a wage? What about mistakenly thinking a cheer is for you when someone scores? No? Then you probably don't want to strip during a football tournament...
With Euro 2012 upon us I thought I might take a moment to clue you in how the life of the humble stripper is affected by events of great importance in the sporting calendar. The onset of a major football tournament might once have been a source of conflict in the average punter’s mind: do you watch the match or do you go to a strip club? These days however matters are simplified by venues that deliver both, simultaneously or sequentially. Any club that isn’t offering some combination will simply lose business to those that are. It’s bad news for the aesthetic admirer of the female form who might want his adulation undiluted by the droning of Mark Lawrenson and David Pleat (though they can always pop by in the daytime when things are quieter) but, as ever, the real challenges are faced by the girls who must take to the floor and earn a living in the midst of it all.
Ordinarily you’ll get to know the times of popular matches, if they’re one off’s then they might draw trade away from the club, but even if they bring business (like the major tournaments when the whole tempo of consumption seems to increase around the matches), the fact is many of the men will be distracted which will lead to a dip in earnings and earning is what we’re there to do. While the bar take will go up, the dancers take will probably go down and for a couple of weeks our game gets harder. Even the Brazilian girls (who tend to be the biggest football fans in my experience) will tell you that that’s true.
Depending on the gravity of the game there’s a sliding scale of how the club adjusts to it. For a non-partisan fixture in the early stages of a tournament then the match will be on the TVs, you’ll still get to have your music on while you dance and you just have to work around it and hope that you’re the bigger draw. For the bigger games they might drop down a projection screen across the stage that blocks your access to the balance bar (thus limiting what you can get up to), you will still have music, though you will have to contend with those that are following the game waving you out of the way should you end up obscuring some vital part of the action. Another odd experience that comes with these occasions is getting what you think is a round of applause, then realizing they are reacting to the football. People who think the job itself is demeaning seldom understand that there are different layers of dignity within it.
If you’re lucky, there’ll be a goal or some other moment of great excitement that you can build a routine around. If not, it’s just you, your body and whatever fortune and John Motson can provide
For the biggest games – which, where I work, means England, they will cut the music altogether, show the match with commentary and you just have to work around it. While the stage is off limits since everyone is watching the screen, the private dances continue and if you do find a punter who isn’t bothered about the match and interested in you then you’ll have to perform to the sound of whoever’s commentating. If you’re lucky, there’ll be a goal or some other moment of great excitement that you can build a routine around. If not, it’s just you, your body and whatever fortune and John Motson can provide, the slightly absurd feeling around those games is heightened further by a mad rush to get as many strippers on stage as is possible during half time.
If England do well then things change again. The management get excited and the whole vibe becomes more celebratory, you’ll see conga lines, free drinks going out and you can pick up some extra money (although I have noticed that when England crash out there is a slight pick up in commiseration dances as well) I may have been dancing a while but I wasn’t around (in any sense) in 1966, so I have no idea what the economic effects of an outright England victory might be. I’m not working this year either, so maybe that will bring them some luck.
I see that Femen, a feminist protest group from The Ukraine is planning to disrupt the tournament with semi-naked protests that have become their trademark. I have to say I agree with their objectives (You can read more about them here http://femen.org/), and their assessment of the male psyche is fairly spot on as well. Protester Oleksandra Shevchenko said last week: “We know what men are like – they want a beer, to watch football and then their mind turns to sex.” All I know is if you have to make a living from capitalizing on that mindset, I’d rather be doing it in a well-run club in England than taking my chances out in the Ukraine. You can tell something about a society by the degree of protection and dignity it offers its sex workers – things could be better over here, but they could be a heck of a lot worse. Not that different then in some respects to our football team…
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