What I like about the club I’m working at currently is that the dancers get to pick their own tunes. That is priceless…because in many clubs there is a so-called “DJ” responsible for the music, with whom the dancers have to more or less negotiate their playlists. I was always troubled by that because it felt like I was making compromises about the terms and conditions of my personal self-expression with a stranger, which just felt odd. The worst was in this one club where the dancers didn’t even get a chance to make song requests as the “DJ” just did his thing all night and turned down all communication with the dancers. I didn’t last there for very long.
The music in a strip club is not to be underestimated. It shapes the club atmosphere as well as the dancers’ artistic unfolding each night. Although the strip club revolves around much more than just music, the music is quite important for dancers when they perform and present themselves in front of the whole club. Yet the significance of music continues to be underestimated or badly organised by many club owners, so that it often interferes with the dancers’ presentation. I’m reminded of my first night in a club five years ago when I forgot to negotiate my music with the “DJ” and he totally dared to play “Diamonds” by Rihanna. I had never struggled so much to be sexy…okay I admit over the years I’ve discovered other songs by Rihanna that I actually really like to dance to, but that particular song was like someone hurled a bucket of ice into my face as soon as I set foot onto the stage.
The stage show is the dancer’s marketing act for her show in the private booth. What she chooses to dance to in her stage show might reveal something about herself personally or about her stripper/strip club personality. What I have also observed over the years, though, is that there are certainly dancers who don’t care what they dance to, as long as they get a chance to present themselves on stage for a few minutes to whatever might be blaring away in the background. For them, the point is purely to use the stage show to lubricate some wallets for later…But for many dancers like myself, music is crucial to my work as a striptease artist and particularly as a passionate performer. Not every stripper dances to the music that she listens to outside of the club. Some might really like techno, but prefer stripping to hip hop. In my case, I would prefer not to hear the music I listen to in my private life when I’m in the club…that would somehow be too personal for me. My stripper-persona needs other kinds of music to unfold and come across believably! Because I prefer music that doesn’t correspond to my taste outside of the club, I’ve actually become more open to genres that I otherwise would have turned down and in this way also developed my dance style. I would have never thought, for instance, that I would enjoy moving to Iggy Azalea’s or Nicki Minaj’s songs, which feels weird to admit, but when I’m in the club it feels perfectly appropriate. Yeah, sometimes I just want to feel like a naughty, dirty slut (in the most liberating, emancipating sense:-)) and certain songs by Kanye West or Khia really help with that 😉 On other days I want to feel like an untouchable, goddess-like fragment of a fantasy, so I pick something like “Six Degrees” by Audiofly, which allows me to twirl and float around and up the pole like a feather fairy.
Music influences the way a dancer moves, how she flows. Hard beats often call for sharp, edgy movements that emphasise the dancer’s individual body parts. Soft melodies tend to evoke smooth transitions where movements flow into and out of each other, making the dancer appear light and illusory. Musical choices depend on different things, such as the day of the week, or how full the club is. My level of energy generally determines what songs I’ll queue for my stage show. When I’m feeling awake and motivated I tend to put on faster, bolder songs and when I’m feeling dreamy and tired I put on slower-tempo songs that don’t overwhelm me. But fast music doesn’t necessarily mean I need to move fast, I’ve learned over the years. Through stripping I’ve learned to create my own rhythm to fast songs without painstakingly trying to move to the exact tempo of the song. Through other dance styles I’ve experimented with in the past I had grown used to matching every movement with the beats in a song, but striptease-dancing has allowed me to interpret the music more flexibly in a way that doesn’t expect every move to correspond to every beat in order to freestyle smoothly.
What I’ve also learned is that it takes more confidence to move slowly than to move quickly. A fast freestyle might demand more concentration, but a slow one requires a great deal of self-trust and movement precision, not to mention the courage to strike lascivious poses for several seconds. When I’m feeling really courageous, I’ll put on Sevadaliza and move in slow motion across the stage, allowing many moments of eye contact with the audience. Or “Eyes on Fire” by Blue Foundation, which is not as slow as Sevdaliza, but slow enough to do glide around the floor coyly, as if pulling myself through shea butter. That one has great lyrics too, making me feel like a playful, mischievous sex fairy in the mood and ready to entertain…
Yes, the music…for outsiders perhaps a less regarded aspect of strip clubs, but for many strippers a vital part of the show.