In a further dent to my left-wing credentials – all two of them – I recently visited a strip club. I’m not one to beat around the bush (ooh err missus) so here follows an honest view of that most maligned form of male entertainment; namely, women getting their kit off for money.
It wasn’t a pre-planned visit – merely the result of quaffing one too many ales in London’s finest public houses. My companion decided the best way to round off an enjoyable Saturday evening was to go and see some naked ladies doing their thing. Following ten pints of strong beer with any kind of moral grandstanding would have been a hopeless cause, so I immediately jumped on board.
The two bouncers at the door asked if we’d been to the club before. We had meticulously talked through this part of the excursion, because if you say “no”, they will spend an embarrassing period of time lecturing you on a busy London pavement about not copping a handful.
So with a quick “yes”, we clambered inside. My friend, accustomed to the way things work, rushed off to buy a pint (and at £5.40 a pint of tepid Foster’s, I’m glad it was his round). The place was small and rectangular, with a glittering stage at the front, a mish-mash of assorted seats and tables splattered everywhere.
Doors to the side opened every so often to reveal a gorgeous, semi-naked girl leading out wide-eyed, middle-aged males, bringing them back to the real world. It was rather murky and dark, brightened courtesy of low-level phosphorescent lights oozing sensually from the corner of the room.
The clientele were of a rather higher calibre than I had expected. The only presumptions I had dared make of these houses of ill-repute is that the people who populate them are desperate, grotesque old men in anoraks, returning to their one-bedroom flat only after getting kicked out for being pissed. However, my prejudices were challenged as it was full of well-shaven men in suits, talking in huddles to work colleagues and acting like it was a normal pub. And for the first ten minutes, it was like any other pub, albeit darker, more expensive and with girls in skimpy underwear asking you for a private dance: you don’t get that at the local “Dog & Duck”.
We talked about football, our piss-poor love lives, drinking and laughing like you would in any normal licensed premises. Due to the number of blokes and the dim lights, it had the feeling of a gay singles night at the Town Hall. Luckily, that changed rather quickly.
The music, previously set to “ambient”, was switched off and one of the girls working the room made her way towards the stage, upon which two poles, a DJ (who we all agreed had the best job, ever) and now a girl were stood, waiting. Once in position and ready, it all started kicking off.
Suffice to say, the rest is fairly obvious. She sidled suggestively up and down the greasy pole, pouted alluringly to her audience and removed her bra first, to a collective “ahh”. “So that’s what a pair of tits in real life look like” I thought to myself, scribbling out the previous definition I held in my mental lexicon, which was of attending the recording of “An Audience with Ant & Dec”.
Here comes the inevitable worrying, though; was I feeling bad that the only way this probably highly intelligent girl could make a living was by taking off her clothes to gawping, leering, troglodyte dickheads like me, who are only ogling her perfect body because we could never find one for ourselves? In truth, no. I was too pissed.
By the time she was energetically thrusting up and down the poles on stage, now completely naked and bending over repeatedly – in what I like to call The Daily Sport pose – I was thankful the room was poorly lit and everyone was looking at the stage.
When the music stopped and the applause began, the most awkward moment of the entire operation occurred. Let’s be honest, none of us look gracious when putting on our underwear, so seeing the stripper standing at the corner of the stage, hopping on one leg to get her knickers back on, did made me chuckle.
The payment system at Browns is very simple. Before each stage dance, the girls come round asking for £1 to put in their jugs (pun alert!). Those caught trying to pass off a 2 pence coin as a higher denomination would be kicked out in the blink of an eye. There are also private dances but due to my chronic over-investment in booze, I was left danceless at the end of the evening. Apparently, according to eye witnesses, the rooms at Browns are so small, the “no touch” rule becomes more of a challenge than a rule.
Then we exited the club and landed on London’s dirty, gum-strewn, weather-beaten pavement once more. What a downer.