Sunday, February 13, 2011
I was originally going to post this blog in the form of a debate: Customer vs. Dancer "What should the price of lap/couch dance be?" I was going to try debate a dancer via e-mail. I would start with a statement and make a short argument. Then send it to her for her to argue back. Do that a couple times, then blog the result. When I began to outline my arguments one thing became apparent: I had no moral grounds for my arguments. By saying prices shouldn’t go up, I’m basically saying dancers should make less money. As the cost of living goes up dancers have to work more to maintain the same level income. That kind of killed my enthusiasm for the debate. I’ll try to think of something else. Do any Dancers have any topics they’d like to debate with a customer?
I still put some time into the subject and will post my thoughts. In my opinion, one major logistical issue preventing prices from being increased is the current denominations of money. A stage tip is still a buck. It was a buck in the 1980s when I went to my first strip club. This is nearly three decades (at least) of a frozen price. The next denomination up is the two dollar bill. More practically it’s a five dollar bill. Two dollar bills represent less than 1% of the money currently in circulation. Requiring two dollars would work just as well. The problem is that that is a 100% increase in pricing. There is no intermediate step
Couch and lap dances don’t have quite the same pricing shock. A five dollar increase is a substantial increase but not extreme. There are barriers to raising prices but nothing overwhelming. The real barrier (in my opinion) is the club owners. I’m sure all the dancers reading this are rolling their eyes as I state what is hugely obvious to them.
The dancer work situation with the club owners is peculiar. The idea of contracting out space or time from somebody else isn’t unique. Conceptually it isn’t much different from a vendor renting space at a Saturday market or a sports venue. This includes setting prices. What is hugely different for dancers is they actually have to compete with people who they are paying stage fees too. Every dollar that customer spends on drinks, food, or cover charge is a dollar he is not spending on the dancer. Most guys don’t have separate budgets for drinks and dancers. Dancers are all at once: a customer, employee and competitor with the club owner.
The customer/employee relationship is exactly the same business relationship I have when I do a trade show. They tell me when and where I have to be and when I have to show up. Part of the contract with the exhibit hall is that people will be present to operate the booth. They also have rules of conduct. If you show up late or act like idiots the exhibit hall can kick you out of a show. The only time I’ve seen somebody kicked out was for problems with payment. I’ve walked onto the show floor to start up the exhibits and the booth next to us is gone, now replaced with a 30’ x 30’ piece of blank carpet. Exhibit halls will put up with a lot except not getting paid. However, if the Exhibit hall tried to compete for my customers I’d blow a head gasket.
I don’t see pricing changing soon. There is no real incentive for owners to increase the tip or dance prices. It potentially cuts into the owner’s revenue and gives customers a reason to visit clubs that have lower prices. The owners are actually better off keeping the price low. I’m not sure how you would encourage the owners to raise the prices. It would take some sort of worker's strike. Unfortunately, as long as there is an endless supply of new dancers there won’t be a way to increase the price. The one dollar tip at the rail and the $20 lap dance have become the token amount.
I think most dancers look at their job as only temporary situation. They really don’t consider it a long term possibility. Because of that they are more willing to accept the pricing controls. I’m willing to fight for major changes in my career. I’m not going to take on an employer for a job I don't plan on keeping.
- The girl in front of you at the check out line is buying false eye lashes, shoe no skid, baby wipes, breath mints and pays for it from a $90 stack of ones. You know what she does for a living.
- You know how thick a $90 stack of ones looks like.
- While taking your niece shopping for her birthday you stop by American Apparel. You know more people there than she does.
- The people you know have more tattoos than the people your niece knows.
- Your niece is both impressed and creeped out by this.
- You spend more time researching for your strip club blog than you do for your day job.