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The club club? Not a member

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Justice

I went to Pole-a-Palooza at Bank nightclub inside the Bellagio on Sunday night. Pole-a-Palooza, for those who are unfamiliar, is a pole dancing competition hosted at a casino nightclub with a cash prize of $10,000. As I mentioned before, I have absolutely no pole dancing skills, so I was only going for the good show and a chance to run into a lot of familiar faces from the strip club world. Sure enough, I knew one of the (I believe it was) eight contestants. This contestant is also a porn actress and was representing a major strip club in the competition. I remember the day she quit from one club and made a big scene. She inhabited the locker above mine and came into the locker room screaming expletives and slamming the locker door. She furiously emptied out the contents of said locker before storming out. Kneeled down under the frenzy of an angry stripper, I should have been scared of falling high-heeled shoes clocking me in the head, but I was so amused by the shameless outburst of emotion I could only laugh and crawl out of the way. So Sunday, I saw her again, for the first time since that moment, a lot more composed and climbing the pole in a crowded nightclub on the Strip.

I was accompanied to Bank by another stripper, who quickly ditched me to attend an event that was simultaneously occurring down the street at another casino nightclub. I had not been to the other club for years -- this club used to accept my fake ID. They had creative questions to stump me but I persevered as any determined teen would.

As an ancient 23-year-old lady, I rarely go clubbing anymore so it was a bit of a shock to find myself in the bowels of a major casino nightclub and suddenly by myself. I wanted to stay at Bank long enough to see the show. I didn’t feel like dancing or mingling with out a wing woman. Anyway, the strap on my strappy shoe just broke so I was rendered useless. I just stood at the balcony, nearly eye level with their asymmetrical chandeliers and rubbing elbows with some happy drunks. Some guy with a shaggy hairdo started grinding against me while I was standing around trying to keep to myself. It is strange how feeling a random man’s hard-on outside the context of a strip club still grosses me out. When did it become acceptable to rub your genitalia on unsuspecting victims anyway?

Then I met another man whom I desperately tried to ignore. Unprompted, he began to insult me for being a woman in Las Vegas. “All women here are all about the money. I know you’re here working. Every single girl in here is here for money.” Then his girlfriend sees that he was talking to me and begins to interrogate me. She wanted to know if we exchanged phone numbers. He did actually proposition me so her suspicions aren’t entirely unmerited but their issues are not my problem. I was just trying to watch the show.

On the way out, another man offered to pay for my womanly time. He told me he has a plane and a Ferrari. The number one rule of stripping is that men who talk about their money don’t actually have any, or at least are not willing to spend it. Either way, I was not working. Ferrari man said he liked my legs. He liked my shoes, he said. I said “Look, they’re broken.” Then he offered to buy me a new pair but this Cinderella was off to another club down the street.

The event at my second destination was a competition to see which girl could collect enough funny money (issued with the purchase of a bottle) from male club patrons for the chance to win real cash prizes. The more bottles a table had, the more “electoral votes” the patrons at the table had. Women had to go around from table to table begging and charming the fake money out of a very entertained group of men. Who could possibly be a better hustler than a stripper? I arrived far too late to have a chance to win. It was nearly time for the final count and there were gorgeous women holding, with both hands, plastic grocery bags stuffed with stacks of funny money. They were like trick-or-treating kids on Halloween. Of course there was an army of strippers competing for the prize. Oh and there were also hookers. Well, someone with good authority told me they were. I couldn’t vouch for the fact. They did seem suspiciously enthusiastic to be with their dates, now that I think about it. Casino nightclubs must be a popular hooker hangout, I suppose. I met several hookers in jail who had been working at nightclubs when they got busted. Hookers and strippers were sitting together at the tables. They drank from the same bottles and received money from the same men. This proves that we can all live in harmony. Group hug!

I won’t be going back to any nightclubs for a while, I think. Nightclubs are crowded and overpriced but that isn’t the half of it. They have a strange hierarchy system where the VIPs really do feel very important in relation to other people from arbitrarily lower ranking strata. There seemed to be a great lack of respect for women as well. It felt like there was even more objectification of women there than at my usual nightlife haunt. I’d prefer a strip club over a nightclub any time, both as a customer and as a worker.

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