Dear Dr. Darcy:
I recently hit hard times. I’m having a hard time meeting rent and can’t afford to go out anymore…. I came to New York to be a dancer and I can’t even afford dance classes anymore. Ironically, right next door to my dance studio is a high-end strip club. I’ve been approached by the manager of the club (I guess he watches dance classes and approaches dancers who he wants to hire) and he’s offered to pay me $200.00 a night plus tips (tips can be over $500/night). What I stand to make in a night is more money than I currently make in 2 weeks. Do you think it would be a terrible idea if I just danced in the club for 6 months until I’ve saved a good amount of money? It would be such easy money!!!
Let’s be clear: It would be the toughest money you’d ever earn. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a strip club but I certainly have, so let me clue you in on the reality:
The men will touch you every time they tip you. Some of them will be old enough to be your grandfather. Initially, the few hundred dollars a night that you’ll make will satisfy you, until you see girls leaving with double your pay for doing lap dances. You’ll soon learn that lap dances in the VIP room brings in even more money, but what you don’t know is that you’ll have to give blow jobs for that. After you get desensitized to that, it’s just a hop, skip and a grand jeté into becoming an escort.
Your 6-month plan is delusional. It’s a fantasy. You’re expenseswill increase with your salary. You won’t be disciplined enough to live beneath your means and so you’ll save little, if anything. You’ll blink and six months will have turned into a year. In the meantime, sure, you’ll be able to afford dance classes. But how long do you think it will take for students in your studio to find out that you’re a stripper? And once they know, your teachers will find out. You’ll be branded. Teachers and choreographers won’t consider you for jobs because they’ll think of you as someone who’s not a real dancer.
You are at a fork in the road. Turn the wrong way and you’ll abandon your dream of becoming a professional dancer, regardless of the silly 6-month story you’ll tell yourself. My advice is to walk past that strip club and into your dance school. Every day. Find a way to get discounted classes. Clean the toilets in exchange for free classes. I used to. And since we both know that you train at my school, clearly it’s possible. You just have to make the right choice, which is sometimes not the easier one.
Writer’s stats: Female, bi.