Friday, 16 February 2007

London Paper 12

215662iOQn_w, originally uploaded by chantelle.

Strip club for an eye-opener by Chantelle Fiddy. Thursday, February 15

In the wake of Valentine’s Day, whether you’re single or attached, you might be looking for a night out with a difference.

Forget swinging, S&M parties or an evening with Ann Summers. Since pole-dancing classes became a legitimate form of exercise there’s even more of an excuse now to visit a strip joint.

Celebrities such as Caprice, Emma Bunton and All Saints have been known to take in a show at Stringfellows, for example, one of the best known venues for nude dancing.

I’m not talking about over-pumped men smeared in enough cooking oil to fry an egg, either, the girls were there to admire the female form. You might call it a modern kind of feminism, you may find the whole idea absurd, but paying a woman to take her clothes off isn’t necessarily about cheap thrills or sexual gratification.

As well as being a fun night out and something you’ll get years of conversation out of, it’s also an eye-opener to the male psyche and our own inhibitions – or lack of them. Given that strippers have their fair share of wobbly bits, you may leave feeling a whole lot better about yourself.

“I find it empowering,” says Laura, who has been frequenting strip clubs for nearly five years. “I’ve come to respect the dancers. I’d never have the confidence to do it, but they’re not stupid and some of them are making good money. If they’re totally at ease with what they do to earn a living, why shouldn’t we support that?”

Laura’s tips for first-timers include going to one of the more upmarket venues in the West End – such as Sophisticats, The Windmill, Spearmint Rhino or, of course, Stringfellows.

“You get what you pay for and some of the smaller, local venues can be a bit seedy,” she says. You’ll also need lots of cash. “It’s embarrassing if you don’t have money to pay – most places will throw you out if you don’t put your hand in your pocket,” she adds.

But it’s not going to be for everyone. Whereas some people take great pleasure from nudity, others look like they’d feel more comfortable talking about their haemorrhoids, and find the whole thing about as sexy as Pat Butcher in bondage.

If you’ve got more chance of dragging your friends to a cemetery to drink cider this weekend, opt for the Anti-Valentine’s Day London Vampire Party at Penderels Oak cellar bar, High Holborn, on Saturday night. Rock and dance are supplied by Devilish Presley, DJ Cavey Nik and DJ Rockula. Garlic, black eye liner, lipstick and corsets are advised – but kitted out like that, don’t expect to be getting into a strip club at 1am. Goth and go-go? Stranger things have happened.

No comments: