I recently returned from a good friend’s bachelor party in Tampa, Florida, and after reading Kat’s treatise on bachelor parties, I had to share a little secret. No, we did not participate in lewd bacchanals fueled by cocaine and Ted Nugent Condominiums, but we did go to a couple different strip clubs. Kat's right: No stripper is going to sleep with you or your fiancé. It’s just not in the cards, and if hubby-to-be is really looking to cheat, he’ll spend the money on a prostitute and be done with it. Cheating isn’t generally going to happen at a bachelor party, but lap dances are.
Here’s where the secret comes in. Lap dances are awful.
I don’t want to say the idea of a lap dance is awful, because it isn’t. Naked women gyrating do generally appeal to typical heterosexual men, but the inherent awkwardness usually leaves men, or some men at least, feeling gross and confused about why they just gave $30 (the typical cost at a nice strip club) to a woman they don’t know.
In this particular county of Tampa, as in some other places, fully nude strip clubs mean no alcohol. And when my group learned of the laws in this particular county of Tampa (no one had bothered to Google ahead) many in attendance groaned. Who wants to go to a strip club where you can’t drink?
It turns out A LOT do!
I’m currently sober, so when I first decided to go on this bachelor party excursion in the supposed strip club capital of the United States (this was the selling point for the organizer — seriously), I decided I would rent a Cadillac and be the designated driver. So I was sober for this bachelor party and subsequent strip club attendance. Before you fire back with “of course you’re going to think lap dances suck when you’re sober!” know that I grew up in Rochester, New York, a short hour and a half drive to Niagara, Canada, home of one of the best strip clubs I’ve ever been inside. I was never sober growing up, and I spent a lot of time gambling and drinking in Niagara, where the legal drinking age is 18. So I’ve had some experience with lap dances both sober and drunk; they suck in both conditions.
For the strip club night during the bachelor party, we were going to start at a topless club with alcohol and head to the famous all-nude strip club afterward. We smartly figured everyone (but me), could get drunk at the topless place, and then we would pile into the Cadillac and head to the famous strip club. (This strip club was so famous, my female seatmates on the flight down from New York actually told me: “YOU HAVE TO GO TO M__ns V___s! It’s amazing!”) After everyone got sufficiently soused at the topless club, we headed over for the all-nude variety.
So why do lap dances suck? First, there are the bored dancers, and I don’t mean they’re boring personally, they just often give off an air of boredom. And for many of these women this might be the 20th lap dance they’ve given that night alone. This isn’t any mark against strippers, it’s just important to remember how often these lap dances are being performed. It’s what they do, and if they’re attractive and good at their jobs, that means more lap dances, and, conversely, less excitement at the prospect of yet another one.
The second problem with lap dances is the touching vs. no-touching rule. Many places employ a strict hands-off rule any time a patron elects to have a private dance. This is to protect the strippers from any unwanted advances — much like the all-nude places prohibit alcohol consumption. I understand this, but deep in the dark recesses of the reptilian brain, when a naked woman lies down on your lap suggestively, the first instinct is to touch and fondle. So, if you can’t touch or fondle, you’re constantly ignoring/fighting that urge, and you’re not enjoying yourself as much.
But at the all-nude place in Tampa (and, coincidentally, at the strip club I frequented in Niagara), touching and fondling are not only allowed, they’re encouraged. I know this sounds strange to any woman who hasn’t spent time in a strip club, but it’s true. In fact, the first time I got a lap dance the stripper had to place my hands on her breasts because I was so terrified of making her feel as uncomfortable as I was.
I hadn’t gotten a lap dance in a long time, but then one of my friends pushed money into my hands and told me I had to since I’d been so nice about driving everyone to bars. At first I shrugged him off, but eventually I relented figuring maybe they'd be more fun if I was sober; plus, what kind of an asshole turns down a free lap dance?! It ended up being awful, though, which, when I think about it, has been my experience with all lap dances.
Anyway, I asked a stripper for a dance, she told me to follow her, and we went to a not-at-all private room off the main floor. Sometimes lap dances are in private rooms, sometimes not (I’ve heard stories of various sexual favors being doled out in private rooms — but I’ve never experienced this). It depends on the strip club, but the non-private ones are even more awkward, because while you’re getting your lap dance all the other men in attendance are staring at you like someone stares at the masturbating monkey in the zoo.
This stripper was named Jennifer, and the first thing Jennifer asked me was whether I wanted to wait for a new song, so I could get a full song for my dance. I said “sure,” and she sat on my lap and we waited. She asked me my sign. “Aquarius,” I replied stifling a laugh because, come on, she just asked me my sign. Shockingly, Jennifer was an Aquarius too and even as she started her dance, she continued to list the various other signs Aquariuses were pre-destined to fall in love with or have a natural enmity towards. I even offered my own little astrological factoid when I said that Aquarius was the most popular sign of United States presidents. I have no idea if this is true, but I heard it somewhere and I didn’t want her to feel like I wasn’t listening. Again, I was hesitant to actually touch Jennifer as she circumnavigated my groin to the wailing of Axl Rose (G n R is ubiquitous at strip clubs). I love boobs, but I’m preconditioned against just touching them without being told, either implicitly or explicitly, it’s OK. Jennifer sensed my hesitance and put my right hand onto her breast as she leaned her back into my chest. She told me to squeeze. I did so reluctantly and quickly realized she had over-the-muscle breast implants.
I’ve felt really good implants before, and Jennifer did not have very good implants. Basically, it was like feeling up a rock. I didn’t want to be rude, though, so I kept gently squeezing (thoughts of a bursting silicon bag running through my head), and eventually the whole ordeal was over. I tipped her generously because I’m sure she could sense my reluctance to “get into it,” and I didn’t want to appear ungrateful about her attempts to turn me on.
I walked back to my buddies, and after a few more awkward minutes, we left. One friend turned to me and said:
“Dude, that was awful.”
“Tell me about it.” I replied.
“How do you stay sober?! That was awful without a drink!”
“Oh yeah. That’s right.”
Without getting all “look how enlightened I am,” the lap dance feels (and is) synthetic and transactional, which isn't sexy at all. But even without the money factor, it’s the fake boobs, the touching vs. non-touching, the general vibe of lechery, the forced conversation, and the sheer number of guys these women dance for, which combine to lead some* men to dread the lap dance, as I do now. I’m sure I’ll be going to a strip club again in the not too distant future, as most of my friends are getting married at this age, and I like watching naked women. But I will never get another lap dance.
*I’m not alone in my feelings on the lap dance, but there are a lot of men who have no problem forgetting it's something they're paying for and that everything else is fake, too. Most men at this particular bachelor party, in fact, had a blast getting lap dances.
Spencer Lund wants his mother to know he still reads Mary Wollstonecraft every now and then, and he respects women regardless of their profession.