Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Strippers (And How to Be Like One)

Strippers or exotic dancers are a huge part of our cultural zeitgeist, but they’re also very stigmatized. We’re more than happy to see Jennifer Lopez pole dance in Hustlers, but find the idea of our boyfriend going to the strip club sort of skeezy.

Stripping is a profession just like anything else. It has its challenges and rewards. Even if these challenges aren’t something you’d be willing to deal with, that doesn’t make what they do intrinsically dirty or less than.

Plus, all of us kinksters could learn something from strippers. They have some moves you’ve probably never even dreamed of.

What is it like to be a stripper?

Strippers are generally women performing for a crowd of mostly men, and they usually work at strip clubs. Although there are gay strippers (sometimes called go-go dancers) and men who strip for women, we’re going to focus on women who strip for men in strip clubs. (If you’re not of this demographic, though, you can still use some of these tips to please your partner, don’t worry!)

What’s a normal day like?

A normal shift starts around 7 pm and goes until 3 am. Before she goes on-stage, she will do her hair and makeup. She’ll get dressed, usually in outfits that show a lot of skin and can easily be taken off. And the heels are vital.

She’ll do multiple sets on-stage throughout the evening. This usually involves pole dancing. Depending on the level of nudity that is legal in the area, she will take off her top or whole outfit. During this set, she’ll make tips, which is the main way she makes money.

In between sets, she’ll walk the floor and flirt with customers. Often, they’ll ask for a lap dance. She usually has a set fee that she charges. She’ll sometimes give a lap dance right there, or she’ll go to a back room.

This goes on until the end of the night, when she can finally go home and take off those heels.

Why do strippers do it?

In a survey, the #1 reason exotic dancers gave for stripping is wanting to dance. Although dancing and the arts are fickle livings, stripping allows women to make money while doing what they love.

The same survey found that women became strippers for non-monetary reasons more than monetary ones. Some of these motivations include having a feeling of power, having fun, and having work ethic. 47% of strippers discussed non-monetary reasons for their career choice, while only 17% chose monetary ones.

This goes against the idea that women only strip because they are desperate and need money to get by. Many strippers just love what they do, or at least think it’s more fun than a minimum wage food service job.

How much money do they make?

The amount of money that strippers make varies wildly, because it’s dependent on a lot of variables. You’ll probably make more money at a prestigious club in New York City than you will at a dumpy one in Iowa. You’ll also make more money depending on how well you can dance and how sexy the customers find you. The pay is going to depend on the night you work, because you’ll probably make more on a Friday night than you would on a Monday.

Exotic dancers make approximately $20,000-$265,000 per year. See what we meant about there being a big difference? Probably, most women make somewhere in the middle, between 40-80k. 

Keep in mind, though, that in the United States, exotic dancers are independent contractors. This means paying a lot of taxes to the government. This also usually means they don’t have health insurance.

Another added expense is that dancers actually have to pay the club a fee to dance. This reserves their stage and guarantees that the club gets a cut. This fee varies a lot but can get pricey. You also have to cough up some of your lap dance money to the club, and you’ll need to tip out the DJ and any hair stylists or makeup artists before you can go home.

Is it safe?

Exotic dancers encounter some slimy guys throughout their workday. Does that mean that stripping is a dangerous profession?

As long as you work at a professional, safe club, not really. At any good club, there will be bouncers who will kick a guy out as soon as you raise your hand. Many clubs that have private rooms have panic buttons that girls can press if something goes wrong.

There’s often a no touching rule. Dancers can touch you, like during a lap dance, but you can’t touch them. This gives the girl the power to control the situation.

Lastly, strippers just have to take some safety precautions. The bouncer should walk them to their cars after their shift. They should never give out their personal phone number or other information to clients. And they should make sure they’re sober enough on the job that they have their wits about them.

How to become a stripper

Did all of that sound like a pretty sweet gig? Here’s a little bit of info on how to break into the industry.

First, you’re going to need to know how to dance. You don’t have to be amazing at it, but some experience is non-negotiable. If you’re not an expert, take a dance class. (We’ll talk about pole dancing classes later.)

Next, you’ll need to scout out some clubs and figure out where you’ll feel comfortable. You can find a great list of clubs here. You can read online reviews, but keep in mind that some of them will probably be written by guys who are salty that they got kicked out for mistreating one of the girls.

Look at the prices, too. Make sure you’re going somewhere you’re valued. $10 probably isn’t enough for a naked lap dance.

Then, inquire with the manager. They’ll probably have you fill out an application. If you make it through that part, you’ll be asked to do an audition dance. If it’s a totally nude club, you’ll be asked to do it nude. Same with a topless one. This will probably make you a little nervous, but if it doesn’t feel right or possible, stripping might not be for you.

My boyfriend goes to strip clubs. What does that mean?

When many women find out their boyfriend or husband is going to the strip club, they panic. Is he cheating on me? Is he getting something there that he feels like he can’t get at home?

Your significant other going to a strip club doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad for your relationship. What you need to figure out is why he goes there.

For some men, going to the strip club is just a night out with their friends. They might spend more time talking to each other than watching the dancers. Some of his friends might tuck dollar bills in g-strings or get lap dances, but that doesn’t mean he does.

Also, how different is going to a strip club from watching porn? He might just have a voyeurism fetish and want to see things in person. Depending on your definition of cheating, just watching the show might be okay.

Some men go to strip clubs for emotional intimacy. They tell the dancers things they feel like they can’t tell their significant others, and all of the lap dances are secondary. If that’s the case, of course you’ll want to know what he’s not telling you, whether it’s that he feels insecure in your relationship or that he has a secret fetish.

Worst case scenario for you, he might be getting lap dances or even paying extra for other favors in the back rooms. (This isn’t common, but it does happen.) While lap dances aren’t penetrative, that doesn’t mean you have to be okay with him getting one.

If your boyfriend has been sneaking off to the strip club on the reg, that’s an even bigger red flag. Lying about anything in a relationship is a bad sign. Why doesn’t he feel like he can tell you about this if it’s completely innocent? Communication is key.

If instead, he told you he wants to go to a strip club with some friends, now’s the time to weigh your options. If you’re truly not okay with it and it’ll keep you up at night, you have to tell him. There’s no reason to put yourself through hell and possibly start taking out aggression with him at random times.

However, maybe the two of you could work out a strip club compromise. Maybe he just goes once a week, once a month, or on special occasions. Or, and hear us out here, you could try going with him.

Strip club date night!

If you’re the perfect kind of couple, you might have a blast at a strip club date night! This is perfect for women who are bisexual or couples who are polyamorous, but anyone can join in the fun under the right conditions.

Some women just aren’t suited to accompany their man to the strip club, though. For example, if you’re the jealous type and could see yourself yelling at a stripper for doing her job, you should probably steer clear.

Also, strippers are hot. That’s like, their thing. Many of them have huge boobs or butts. If you have body image issues, a strip club probably isn’t the place for you. Your guy might be drooling over someone with DD cups while you have B cups, which could send you on an emotional spiral.

If a strip club date sounds great, choose a day when your relationship is going well and you’re relaxed. If you’re angry with each other, this could lead to bad behavior in the club. Then, set ground rules. Is it okay for both of you to get lap dances? Just him? Just you? How much can we tip? Can we leave right away if someone is feeling uncomfortable? Talking about these things beforehand are more likely to make the evening a breeze.

Watching your partner get a lap dance can be a serious turn on. You might imagine having a threesome, but it can also just be sexy to see your guy really turned on. The sexual environment in the strip club can be infectious, which will make you even more excited to get home and do all sorts of kinky things to each other.

How to do a striptease (that’s not super awkward)

Let’s say you want to bring the strip club home with you. It can be a little weird to try to act like an exotic dancer, but it can be done. Plus, your boyfriend will probably be super turned on by the surprise.

To perform a striptease, it’s just as important that you’re into it as he is. It’s not a routine at a middle school recital where you walk through the rehearsed steps. One of the best ways to do this is to put on some music. Choose something that you feel is sexy. It can be fast or slow and from any genre, as long as you feel comfortable.

If you want, you can put a lot of planning into your striptease. You can move furniture around or put his favorite essential oil in the diffuser. However, sometimes spontaneity is great, too.

Make sure you’re wearing the right outfit. Choose something that’s easy to get out of (so probably don’t put on that corset top or pair of skinny jeans). You don’t have to worry about putting on tons of layers; you’re not a magician pulling scarves out of his sleeves. Men like to be teased, but a fashion show isn’t necessary.

You can use tons of eye contact, or look aloof for a voyeuristic effect. And when in doubt, flip your hair. It’s a stripper’s secret weapon.

You might feel a little self-conscious, but know that your guy isn’t feeling awkward or judging you. He’s just feeling excited to get some special treatment. Plus, his dick is probably hard, so you’ve already won.

How to give your man a lap dance

Lap dances are another great way to turn you and your partner on, but most women are intimidated and think they’ll look silly doing it. Like with a striptease, your guy won’t think it’s awkward while he’s watching you.

First, you’ll want to pick out a song or two. Some people think a lap dance should last two songs, but this is probably a long time for a beginner. The song should be slow and sexy; you won’t be dancing crazy to Kesha or anything.

Some good songs include:

  • “Climax” by Usher
  • “Girl with One Eye” by Florence and the Machine
  • “Thinkin About You” by Frank Ocean
  • “I Wanna Sex You Up” by Color Me Badd
  • “Heartbeats” by The Knife
  • “No Diggity” by Blackstreet

Next, do some research. There are tons of videos online where dancers will tell you their favorite lap dance moves. Here are some examples, but you can find lots of other info on Instagram or YouTube.

When you’re practicing moves and deciding what to do, don’t be too ambitious. A trip to the hospital isn’t sexy (at least for most people). Professional strippers will be able to give better lap dances than you, but that’s okay, especially when you’re just learning.

On the big night, you’ll need to choose what clothes to wear. If you want, you can incorporate a striptease into a lap dance. This gives you more to do. However, if you’d rather just give a lap dance in lingerie, that’s good, too. Choose whatever you feel sexy in, and make sure that if you’re wearing heels, you feel safe in them. Wear them around the house first that day to get ready.

Have your man sit on a chair, preferably with arms. This allows you to have lots of places to grab on and make sure you don’t fall. 

When you cue up the music, start off far away. You want to stretch things out. Circle his chair and run your hands over his body. Make lots of eye contact, and don’t be afraid to throw in a wink or two. It may feel corny, but he’ll love it. And again, tossing your hair is never a bad idea.

Here are some moves you can try:

  • Lean in: Just stand between his legs and lean your upper body forward while popping your booty out. You can put you hands on the wall behind him or grip the arms of the chair so you don’t fall. Then, you can tease him by getting your breasts closer and closer to his face, but not so close that they touch.
  • Hands on Your Knees: Don’t do the Cha Cha Slide. All you have to do for this move is put your hands on his knees while he has them apart (ala manspreading). Then move your ass in slow, seductive circles.
  • Pop a Squat: Lowering yourself down into a squatting position may not sound sexy, but it really is. Slowly move your body down while bending your knees and go as far as you can. While you’re down there, you can make him feel like he’s about to get a blowjob, lightly stroke his dick through his pants, or touch his thighs. Try this one beforehand, though, as it’s not necessarily easy to get up from this position. If you have trouble making the getting up sexy, you can transition from the squat to being on your knees, which might be an easier position to get up from.
  • Arch Your Back: This one is not for beginners, so safely try it at home before you bust it out during a lapdance. While you’re kneeling between his legs on the floor, bend your back backwards so you get a great arch and your head is near the floor.
  • Bring It Around Town: Another basic move is hip circles. You can do this while standing straddling him, or squatting. Simply move like you’re hula hooping. But like, slow, sexy hula hooping. Easy, right?
  • Rub a Dub Dub: While you shake your hips, grind, or dance seductively, rub your hands all over your body like you’re putting on lotion. You can focus on your boobs while you’re facing him, or massage your butt while you’re facing away. Think about how you like him to touch you and try to replicate that.

Think more about connecting with your partner than with putting on a Beyonce backup dancer show. The point is to please your partner. Hopefully that’ll make you feel more confident.

If you mess up or stumble, just seductively giggle and move on. His erection isn’t going to go away just because you had to grab onto him to stay up.

If you’ll be giving your boyfriend stripteases and lap dances, ask yourself if you’d like one from him, too! Magic Mike exists; it’s not super radical for a guy to strip for you. Maybe you can work together to spice things up.

An intro to pole dancing

There’s one more strip club necessity that we haven’t covered yet: pole dancing. 

Pole dancing is hard fucking work. It takes muscles that you didn’t even know you had, and it requires a lot of effort and time to master. Basically, if you think strippers just take off their clothes and get tips, you’re super wrong.

Pole dancing can be dated back at least 800 years, to the Indian sport of mallakhamb, which measured strength and endurance using a wooden pole instead of a metal one. Hopefully no splinters!

In America, using a pole to dance seductively started with Ghawazi traveling dancers doing belly dancing around the 1890s. They were, as you can guess, super controversial. 

The pole got more popular when it was in the movie and video for Elvis’s “Jailhouse Rock.” After this, the pole was used by burlesque dancers.

It wasn’t until the 80s that pole dancing started incorporating the athletic moves you see today and was used in stripteases.

Then in the 1990s, something interesting started happening. Women started using learning pole dancing as a fitness routine. This got even more popular during the mid-2000s, and now basically every larger or mid-size city has a pole dancing studio.

So should you try pole dancing, to look sexy but also for fitness?

9 reasons you should try pole dancing classes

1. It doesn’t feel like exercise.

Pole dancing classes sort of feel like a dance class mixed with a hard video game level you have to beat. You get so wrapped up with trying to climb a little higher on the pole that, before you know it, the whole hour has gone by.

You will know you worked out when you get home, though. You might have some muscle soreness, but it can also mean some bruises. But don’t worry: your instructor will make sure you don’t experience any serious pole dancing injuries.

2. It builds your confidence and self-esteem.

Working hard and reaching your goals is great for your self-esteem. Also, when you’re going to class in short shorts with your belly exposed for weeks and seeing what your muscles are capable of, you’ll be more likely to have some extra body confidence happening.

3. It's risqué.

Pole dancing for fitness is like the best dirty little secret ever. No one ever has to know that you got a pole installed in your living room (or bedroom) so you can practice your moves. You’ll be a sexy little vixen, and no one will be the wiser.

4. You get to bond with other women.

Pole dancing fosters close friendships between you and the other women in your class. Usually, pole dancing classes have recitals where everyone performs a piece. This will make the other women invested in each other’s routines. You’ll get lots of encouragement when you can’t do something and praise when you finally make it happen.

5. You’ll be motivated to work out more often.

Trying to convince yourself to get up at 5 am to go run on a treadmill is a real bitch. If you have an exercise routine that’s actually fun, you’re more likely to do it. This is why the secret of pole dancing is so powerful.

6. You’ll sleep better.

Exercise makes you sleep better. We’re not exactly 100% sure why yet, but it does help reduce your stress levels and chill out your brain. If you’re someone who lies away staring at the ceiling all night thinking about what you have to do the next day, pole dancing might help you chill the hell out.

7. There are lots of accomplishments along the way.

Many exercises don’t have solid steps you can point to that you accomplished along the way. Even if you can run a little faster or lift a little more weight, that isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. However, when you learn a new pole dancing trick, you’ll be over the moon and want to do it again and again. You’ll want to show everybody how well you’ve done.

8. It combines many different exercises into one sport.

Pole dancing combines strength training, endurance, and flexibility training all into one class. It’s like taking yoga, Pilates, TRX, and Physique 57 all at the same time!

9. It’s sexy!

What other exercise keeps you fit while also giving you a new sexual skill that you can bust out any time? Besides letting you dance on the pole, it will make you more flexible and confident to show off your body.

How to incorporate pole dancing into your sex life

Convinced that you should try a pole dancing class? You might wonder if it’s possible to bring your new sexy skill home without having to do a major home improvement DIY project. 

In order to pole dance at home, you’ll of course need a pole. Here are two great options.

X-POLE has affordable and convenient poles you can use at home. The X-POLE SPORT is probably your best bet with the company. It’s only available for non-spinning, so it’s best for beginners. Because you won’t be spinning, you won’t need any screws, bolts, or drilling to put it up. This means you can easily move it around, if you want to practice in the living room and show off in the bedroom.

Lil’ Mynx also offers fantastic dance poles. Their Original style is beginner level and comes in cute colors like black and pink. (Stainless steel is extra.) This pole works by mounting to the ceiling, so you will have to use a single screw. But one cool feature is that the mount looks like a plant hook if you take it down. This will save you from your in-laws asking you awkward questions. You can move Lil’ Mynx poles around too; you just need to buy an extra mount for every room you want to dance in (and probably buy more hanging plants).

Use caution when buying a pole. Some companies offer cheap options that just don’t look sturdy. You can buy a pole at Spencer’s, for crying out loud. Just be safe, because falling head-first onto the floor doesn’t seem pleasant.

In case something does go wrong, you might want to consider getting a crash mat, too. There’s this one from Pole Tribe that looks pretty good. They’re pricey, but do you want to end up with a concussion?

Once you have the pole set up and you have some pole dancing moves, you can show off for your partner whenever you like. This makes great foreplay. He’ll be amazed by all of the stuff you can do.

While you’re incorporating stripper moves into your sex life, just remember that everyone in sexy professions work very hard, like cam girls or people who sell their used underwear online for extra cash. They deserve your respect.

If you do go to a strip club, tip well. And if someone says something negative about strippers in your pole dancing class, call them out. All of us kinksters and workers in the sex industry have to stick together.