Being novices, we didn’t know what to expect. At first we stood huddled together in a corner like junior high school boys at a bar mitzvah. You could see the questions written on some of our faces: What was this place? Is this even legal? Then the music got better and, basically, some of us wanted to dance. So we approached some of the women and asked: “So, how does this work?”

Red Neon Table Dancing sign

The answer was simple. It cost about $2.00 a dance, you dance as long as you want with whoever you approach and in the end, pay them cash, maybe get them a drink, say thanks, and go on your respective way. It seemed simple enough. So while some of us preferred to take advantage of the cheap drinks, others of us tried to see if the buy-a-dance system worked.

It seemed to. The women were surprisingly polite, friendly and even charming. After getting over a bit of the “first-timer” anxiousness, I spoke to a few dancers and started understanding how things worked around there. I asked if they were employees of the club, but apparently, they weren’t. They pay an entrance fee and keep all the
“dance fees.”

The club made money at the door and at the bar. Most of the women were also new to the US and this was a quick way to make money without going nude or selling sex. It all sounded legit to me. One woman, we’ll call her Irene, said she was there because she was a professional dancer and this was her pay-the-bills job and it beat waiting tables. I asked if things ever get dangerous. She responded that besides drunk or grabby guys, most of the time things went smoothly.

After a while you could notice the cliques that had formed amongst the women — the Guatemalans in one corner, the dark-skinned Dominicans by the DJ, the Colombians with tight pants at the bar. The women competed to get the attention of men to dance with. The prize, as it seemed, was to persuade a guy to pay for unlimited time which meant the woman could sit at his table and drink on his dime. I noticed a couple of ladies at the booths, laughing and entertaining the googly-eyed men. If you didn’t get that though — you had to stand. The girls stood all night in their high heels when they weren’t dancing. If there weren’t enough folks on the dance floor, the house announced “ladies choice!” and the women would go out and pull a guy onto the floor for what I guess was a freebie dance to get the crowd going.

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