I went to a strip club in Manchester with my bestie and the strangest thing happened – I made friends with one of the strippers.
So I pay the £10 entry, get warned that any use of mobile phones and recording devices inside is strictly prohibited, and I’m in a strip club for the first time in my life. I open the door and it takes me a moment to take it all in – a dark room with a lot of small tables with cosy booths and a big bar, illuminated by shades of red light, but most intriguingly – a group of about ten women dressed in the most revealing lingerie and 6-inch high heels smiling at me and my bestie like they’d been waiting for us all their lives. It is the most welcoming atmosphere I had been in in a bar.
Me and my friend Zornitsa take straight to the bar, mainly because we’re not exactly sure what else to do or how to act. As soon as we have a drink in our hands, two of the dancers come closer and start chatting us up – it’s kind of like being hit on in a night club, but by women.
That’s when I meet Patricia*. She says: “You wanna know what it’s like to be a stripper? I’ve been in the business for 25 years – I’m your girl!
“But if you want to really understand what it’s all about you have to experience it yourself.”
And then she took my hand and took me downstairs to the private dance rooms. Before we knew it, Zornitsa and I were sat on a couch in an intimate room and there were two beautiful women dancing for us, slowly getting undressed, while our pulses were racing like crazy.
We kept looking at each other and then at the dancers with the silliest smiles on our faces. We are both heterosexual and never even had a “thing” for a girl, but we were high on adrenaline and it all felt very sensual, empowering and sexy.
“I am like anybody else, you know”, Patricia said to me after the dance.
“This is my job and I’m here for the money.
“As a stripper I earn as much as a doctor, but I get to dance, keep in shape and have some fun.”
Patricia is 44, from Manchester, and has been dancing for more than two decades in England and abroad.
“When I was 19 my father died and I really needed money fast to support myself and my mom. So I started working in a brothel as a prostitute. It was good money, but it was awful and I hated it. I had zero self – respect and started taking drugs to get through it all for about two years.
“And then one day I couldn’t take it anymore – I quit and I got a job as a stripper and it was the best decision in my life! I make almost the same money, but there is no touching and all I have to do is dance.
“It was like riding a bike before I could walk!”
Patricia has two children – a 13 – year – old son and a daughter, Chloe, 21, and says she is just a ‘regular mom’:
“Every Sunday we have a family day out – this week I’m taking them skydiving. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t for stripping.
“I have my own house, Chloe just finished university, has no student loan to repay and I’m helping her start a business. As long as I am providing for my kids, I don’t care that I have to dance naked for a couple of hours every day.”
Here are a few interesting facts you didn’t know about stripping.
Patricia explained that this kind of job is not for everyone. She said you have to be a dancer, an actress and an entertainer all in one. But you have to be very strong at the same time and know why you are there – for the money.
“You have to keep your eye on the ball and remember that you are doing it for your family.”
Patricia says that being a stripper is “like putting a mask on” and that she is completely different outside of her job.
Still, she thinks that her job interferes with her love life.
“I have had two serious relationships, but I was never truly in love, because I could never open up completely to my partners – I used to tell them I was a bartender”, Patricia says.
She has been saving money since she started stripping and has been investing in different businesses. She wants to retire at 50 and simply enjoy the life stripping has bought for her.
“But I am honest to my children – they aren’t particularly happy that their mother is a stripper, but they accept it and are proud of me for giving them the life they have now.
“I have learned to be proud of myself too, but I wouldn’t choose this kind of lifestyle for my daughter”, Patricia reveals.
I leave the bar a little drunk on alcohol and sexy women and a lot turned on. And I have no idea why.
I’ve never been into women and I only got the dance for the purposes of this article, but there was something very sexy and empowering about it, and the fact that this is not something I do every day made the experience all the more exciting and erotic.
It’s probably not for everyone, but if you ever had the slightest interest in what it’s like in a gentlemen’s club, leave your prejudices at home and give it a go – you might find yourself liking it more than you expected.
If you feel shy to go alone, grab one of your more free – minded gilfriends, read this woman’s guide and hit the clubs.
**Names in this article have been changed to protect sources’ privacy.