Danielle Goes to an Erotic Dance Club

When Danielle was 22, she wanted to go to an erotic dance club. She did not want to go alone, however, and instead, she thought it was a good idea for me to take her.

The first time she brought it up with me, I was skeptical.

Erotic dance in this town is very much hit or miss. You are lucky to find a dancer who can express her sexuality through dance. I feared Danielle would encounter some poor dancers and consequently be hard pressed to understand what good erotic dance is all about.

The second time she brought it up with me, I was reluctant.

I was only a little younger than Danielle the first time I saw an erotic dance, and the dancer was so numbingly awful, I didn’t go back for 27 years.

In hindsight, I understand what that dancer’s problem was: She wasn’t dancing her own sexuality. Instead  she was going through a series of motions someone perhaps had mistakenly told her were sexy.  Most likely, she was pandering to the crowd for tips. Witnessing that ugly farce was enough to put me off erotic dance for almost 30 years. I certainly didn’t want Danielle’s first experience to be anything like mine.

Danielle is the oldest daughter of a San Francisco police officer and an art teacher. When she was about 20, she decided to explore the world a bit, and her wanderlust eventually brought her to Colorado, and to the coffee shop were we met.

She’s full of life, Danielle.  She loves to grin and you can’t help but grin back.  She has a playfulness and a ready sense of humor.  And her mind is clear as a mountain stream.

Her degree is in anthropology and she has a taste for African designs. Mostly, she expresses herself not through writing, nor through the clothing she wears, nor through any classical art, but through how she decorates her living spaces. Interior design is her art. She’s very good at it.

The third time Danielle brought up my taking her to an erotic dance club, she mischievously played “the former boyfriend card”.

She told me how she’d always wanted to see erotic dancers; had even begged her former boyfriend to take her; how he’d refused on the grounds “erotic dance wasn’t right for a girl to see.” What made his rejection biting, she said, was that he himself frequented dance clubs — yet he wouldn’t take her.

That did it for me. I wasn’t going to let Danielle’s former boyfriend get away with patronizing her. I agreed to take her. But only if she would consent to go to the clubs as many times as it took before I was satisfied that she’d seen at least one decent erotic dancer. Danielle readily agreed to that, and so we set Thursday for going.

When Thursday came, I was far more nervous than Danielle. Even though I was taking her to the club with the best dancers in town, I wasn’t sure who was dancing that night, and even the best club in this town has its share of poor dancers. But as it turned out, we got lucky.

Good erotic dancers dance their sexuality. I cannot begin to describe in mere words how they do that, but if you get yourself to a few clubs and then compare and contrast dancers, you will sooner or later notice the differences yourself. Some dancers dance their sexuality. Some dancers dance what they perhaps merely imagine is their sexuality. And some dancers dance anything but their sexuality. The latter two are just going through the motions.

As we watched the dancers, I would ask Danielle what she thought of them. It was encouraging to hear her say things like “She’s for real”, or, “I thought she was faking it”. Danielle and I seemed to be on the same page.

Picasso once said something roughly along the lines of, “Art is sex and sex is Picasso.” Whether it is true or not that art is sex, it is certainly true that one’s sexuality can be expressed in any art form — in painting, in sculpture, in poetry and, of course, in dance.

There are several things that make erotic dance interesting, but perhaps one of the most intriguing things is the way you can recognize the dancer in her dance. A dancer who genuinely expresses her sexuality is quite beautiful to witness, even if she herself is not the prettiest woman to ever take the stage.

The beauty does not come from her physical beauty, but from her authenticity in expressing her sexuality. And that’s the very same beauty you have always found, and always will find, in any authentic self-expression.  When a person is being true to themselves, they are in some special way beautiful.

Honesty, integrity, authenticity — these are all terms than can be applied to any art, including erotic dance.

So much of it is in what we look for.  If we go to a dance club only because we want to see nude or near nude women bounce around, then that’s all we will see. Then it doesn’t matter to us whether those women are dancing their sexuality or pandering to ours. In fact, we will probably prefer them to pander. Yet, if we go to a dance club with eyes for how someone transforms their authentic sexuality into an honest dance, then we might discover something deeply beautiful.

A problem many men face when watching a dancer is wanting to possess her.  If we really want to be moved by the beauty of erotic dance, we must avoid that trap. That trap makes the dance all about us. It leaves no room for the dancer and her self expression. Just as you watch a beautiful sunrise without wanting to own it, the best way to watch an erotic dancer is without wanting to possess her.

That night with Danielle, the two of us got very lucky because at least four of the dancers were alive to their sexuality.   They were expressing it honestly, and one even came over to our table and sat with us for 45 minutes. She and Danielle immediately hit it off and were soon sharing secrets like sisters.

On the ride home, I asked Danielle what she thought of the night. “That was so liberating!”, she said with unusual force: “I never imagined it could be anything like that.”

“Liberating” was precisely the right word. It was the word I’d hoped for.

To see someone dance a lie about their sexuality is not liberating. To see someone dance a truth about their sexuality is liberating. Isn’t that intuitively true?

You’ve noticed how you feel more alive when you are with someone who is authentically themselves, someone who is true to themselves. Well, it is the same with erotic dancers.  A woman who dances authentically makes you feel alive.

On the whole, erotic dance in America might never become as much of an art form as it could be. But here and there you can find a decent dancer, an artist in her own right. And if you approach her performance appropriately, then you can find her dance just as inspiring as any good art.

Writing this tonight has made me realize how much I miss Danielle. She left about a year after this for Portland, Oregon. Perhaps it is impossible not to miss a person who shares the same eyes as you when watching dancers.  There is kinship in that.

(Photo copyright Bill Dobbins)

About these ads

21 Comments

Filed under Art, Artist, Authenticity, Beauty, Danielle, Erotic Dance, Nudes, People, Sexuality, Spirituality

21 responses to “Danielle Goes to an Erotic Dance Club

  1. I’ve never been to a club before, probably because of the reasons you stated.

  2. Hi Brian! That’s probably very sane. If you pick a club at random, the odds of your seeing a good dancer are certainly not in your favor. At least not in Colorado Springs. And when erotic dance is bad, it’s acutely depressing.

  3. I visited my first strip club back in October when I hung out with a bachelor party. This wasn’t just a topless bar, this was an everythingless bar.

    Which is fine with me; I am comfortable with nudity and all.

    But presented in the manner of this particular club, the nudity and sexuality of the dance became commercialized. The effect of it on my senses was something like watching those guys who paint their bodies at a football game; it was amusing and their was nothing inherently wrong in it, it was just not sexually stimulating to me.

    But I’ve seen the sensual combination of sex and art, and its effect is much more mind blowing. That our country is sexually repressed is sad. Sex is such an inherent part of the human experience (even if that experience is asexual) that its denigration to “seediness and shallowness” is sacrilegious.

  4. Hi Guitar’s Cry! Interesting points! Unfortunately, “commercialization” of erotic dance is the norm in this country so far as I know. I’ve read of a woman in China who has opened a school there for erotic pole dancing and who is trying to turn it into more of an art than is the norm here. That seems to me something the Chinese are much more likely to do than Americans.

  5. There is little art in erotic dance. It’s a cash grab.

    Of all the clubs I’ve visited, and dancers I’ve seen, there was only one that had any idea about her own sexuality and how to use it. I would go back and see her again, her performance stood out from the parade of robots.

  6. And I thought Colorado Springs was a desert for erotic dance!

  7. Just recently my oldest daughter and I have found ourselves enamoured with burlesque.
    Checking out the very classic styles… to the more outlandisly propped sets, we’ve been watching and discussing. Nine times out of 10 our critiques are in agreement. We are just now beginning to explore burlesque for ourselves. Honestly, at the age of 39, I am just now TRULY beginning to explore my own sexuality, my own sensuality. Our differing ages and seasons in life, our personalities and characteristics of course bring out a whole different concept of costume and concept… but we both agree that the most important thing is loving exploring embracing your own sexuality for REAL as you move… and touch yourself… it’s got to be real. You have to LOVE your body, love yourself! Love your womanhood! Love your hair… run your fingers through it… and move on down from there! Love the sensuality of your own breasts… your hips… be totally and completely comfortable with the TOTALITY of yourself.

    We are also amazed how the body shape /build of the “dancers” matters far less than how much fun they are having! How much they love what they are doing! How sexy they KNOW they are!
    In just a few days I have grown to recognize and love my sexuality… embrace MYSELF… in all my imperfection… and extra pounds.

    I have hated myself for the past few years…
    been ashamed of myself…
    for the weight I had put on.
    I kept waiting … to lose the weight…
    “to love myself” again.

    now I am losing the weight,
    but even though I have farther to go,
    the heart of my woman now loves
    the body of self she touches so sensually,
    and sees in the mirror.

    I think we will both grow into wonderful exotic dancers… even though neither of us is technically a dancer… because we know the secret.

  8. Hi UltraViolet! It sure sounds to me like you know the secret of erotic dance. Thank you so much for sharing with us! That was a beautiful post!

  9. Hey Paul.
    Right on the mark, as usual. The thing is that a woman who dances her own sexuality does not dance for men. She dances for herself. I think that bothers a lot of people who would prefer it to be otherwise. Glad you’re not one of them!!

  10. Hi Nezha! I agree she dances for herself — but don’t most good artists create art primarily for themselves?

    I suspect a woman who dances her own sexuality bothers a lot of people because they would prefer to possess her — they don’t want the challenge of dealing with a sexy woman they have no control over or access to. That’s my hunch.

  11. Amy

    Paul i love you! lol Seriously i am so blown away by this blog. Maybe because i feel exactly the same way and i’ve never been able to articulate it so perfectly as you did here. I wish that more men and women for that matter understood this and embraced it’s truth, i really do. Our world would be genuinely more authentic and beautiful. But it seems, like you kind of said, most don’t really care about one showing there own authenticity. This is obvious in many areas of modern society. When it comes to women and lust and erotic dance, most are just out for a manufactured sexuality, they may secretly desire more, but they just settle for something that everyone else says is “top of the line”. I love dance of all kinds but bellydancing is one that i have fell in love with because it isn’t a one size fits all sexual dance, it’s finding your own rythms and expressing your soul and sexuality/art through it, your own authenticity. You have guidelines to follow but it is a very personal dance after you learn the basics. That is what attracts me so much to that dance. I do think much of art is sexual energy, that is why some of us feel so compelled to create art in our lives, atleast those of us open to those drives.

  12. Amy, welcome to my blog! You’ve just made my evening with your kind words and insightful comments! I very much agree with you that society is often the enemy of authenticity. It can also at times support it — but I would like to see much more support of authenticity than society currently gives.

    One way society harms us, I believe, is that it tricks so many of us into believing we can satisfy all our human needs through consumption of products and services. That’s good for the economy, but it’s very bad for the psyche. Humans have needs that simply cannot be satisfied by consumption. One of those needs, as you point out, is to in some way be authentic in expressing ourselves.

  13. Amy

    Hey Paul i’m so sorry it’s taken me over a month to get back to your blog! I’m so happy u wrote back! I’m exuberant when i find likeminds/souls in the world! :) I actually copied and pasted this in my blogs on my myspace page after i read it because i wanted others opinions on it. I quoted you and put your name on it though! I hope you don’t mind that i did that…..
    This Valentines Day i did a striptease for my boyfriend hehe and this blog came to mind. ;) I try and be as authentic as possible when i dance, and as authentic as i think i am, i’m sure some of my moves are mixed in with “preconcieved notions” as well as what my boyfriend would like. And it’s a very subtle line sometimes between what is “fully authentic” and what is “acting”. I mean maybe i’m going into more psychological discussions because we are all largely products of our environment. No matter what dancer it is, she is going to be doing some “rehearsed motions” i imagine, and that isn’t all bad. We’re all human and sexual and we learn from our environment so it’s probably unavoidable to not “act” to some degree. But i think it’s finding a healthy integration of learned responses to our own innate rhythms that is the difference of authentic eroticism or superficial eroticism i’ll call it. I still have a few more dances to do for him to understand more fully my own rhythms and i’m completely excited to learn. ;)

  14. Amy, how could I have missed your comment until now! I don’t at all mind your copying this post to your blog so long as you link back to the original here.

    The more you dance — the more you explore how you really feel — the less you will rely on preconceived notions of what you should be doing. At least that’s what I think. I adore your comments! :)

  15. This is such an insightful post. I found it on Blog Nosh. I was an erotic dancer at one point in my life. I always thought the other girls at the club I worked at danced better than I did. After reading this I would like to believe that I was the only authentic one in there. I did dance for me, I had fun, I enjoyed what I was doing. I loved to dance and I did it my way. Even though I was working there to earn money to live, my reason for going to work had nothing to do with the almighty dollar, but rather had everything to do with how much I enjoyed what I did. Dancing every night did feel extremely liberating. 11 years later I still miss it.

  16. Hi Kaytabug! Welcome to the blog! :)

    I think you have very beautifully expressed what happens to us when we do something authentically. I suspect erotic dance was a positive experience for you because you did it for yourself and in your own way. Had you been doing it only for the money, you most likely would not have found it liberating. That’s my hunch. Thank you for such a great comment!

    By the way, have you ever considered teaching erotic dance?

  17. So, I’m the head editor at Blog Nosh Magazine, I know how the magazine works, and yet I still left my comment re. this post on our own site. And my comment was about commenting on the original posts! Ugh.

    In short, this post is the one that has been the best example so far of why Blog Nosh Magazine may just work. I have heard repeatedly that “I never would have found a post like the one about the erotic dance club, but I loved it, clicked through to his blog, and found a whole new genre that I am enjoying now.”

    Ah. That is all I can ask for and I thank you again for helping us get off the ground. This post was stellar.

  18. Hi Megan! Welcome to the blog! It’s delightful you dropped by! I was reading your personal blog yesterday and wishing I had half your wit! I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.

    I’m very pleased the reports on this post have been good.

  19. Your hunch is correct.
    Ha ha! No, I haven’t ever considered teaching erotic dance. Ironically enough I don’t feel I am good enough at it to teach someone else.
    How do you teach someone to dance for themselves? There are certain moves that one could be taught. Moves that I myself picked up on, but if one is not in touch with their sexuality then it will look just like moves. There were a couple girls I worked with that looked like they were just going through the motions. That was sad to watch.
    I also wonder if some amount of enjoying being a tease helps in the authentic department.

  20. Hi Kaytabug! I suppose some enjoyment of teasing does indeed help. Teasing is almost an art in itself, according to several of my friends.

    On a different note, a friend was telling me earlier tonight that she thought one reason erotic dance has not gained the respectability in this country of, say, ballet, is because it gives women too much power — it doesn’t limit them in expressing their sexuality, and hence, the dancer becomes a threat to the status quo. I thought that was an interesting idea — although I haven’t quite put it here as well as she did.

  21. Eryn

    I love this. This is such a raw exploration of feminine sexuality, and since most of us are terrified to look at our own sexuality, it’s nice when someone intelligent does so for us.
    Having lived in Montreal for several years, I am familiar and comfortable with erotic dancers (I hate calling these girls “peelers” or “strippers”, if only because I know what sort of image it brings into the minds of anyone who hears those words, and I know that isn’t what it’s all about).
    I was once very much in love with a cage dancer, who was tragically broken and damaged in ways I could not contend with. It’s unfortunate that the sort of damage women often endure as young girls brings them to the stage, seeking reassurance and abuse as ‘strippers’… erotic dance has so much more to offer.
    While it’s clear to me that men enjoy these dancers because they can’t resist naked ladies, I tend to assume that women, even straight women, have more delight in store for them at the clubs – provided they find the right dancer. Some of these ladies are trying to feed their kids, or support a drug habit, or search for love which they will never find on the flip side of a lap dance…. but some of them are girls like me.
    Girls who have escaped the oppressive notions of female sexuality imposed by western culture. Girls who like the wanton look on a man’s face while he watches them explore their bodies. Girls who like feeling sexy without being mauled. Girls who love to have a few shots and dance until they forget about the fight they just had with their sister. Girls who love to lose themselves in a bassline, and know how great even the most ‘flawed’ body looks in the right context….
    One of my lovers, a young man about the same age as I am, recently ‘friended’ me on facebook. As loved ones tend to do, my closest friends immediately creeped his profile to see what he was all about.
    I had several people bring to my attention the fact that he was a ‘fan’ of every strip club in town… and although I know my response alarmed a few of my friends, it was consistently positive. A man who appreciates the way a woman moves when she feels good in her skin. A man who can’t resist the allure of a hidden piece of skin. A man who likes to see women in the flesh rather than drool over them on the internet.
    This is a man who will appreciate my body when it moves along with the stereo as I wash his dishes.
    This is a man who will notice the way my spine curves when I want him.
    This is a man who loves my sexuality, and won’t run screaming when he discovers my fondness for sitting in the clubs, learning about myself from the dancers who wind and dream around poles, in silly outfits…. not the tragic, busted-up dancers – but the ones who are there to enjoy their own talents and desires.
    I may not admit this to my friends – but I would hope that the men I’m involved with like to watch dancers. This makes me certain they won’t object to my intense sexual nature, they’re more likely to soak it up and make it worth my while.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s