The traditional gentlemen’s club was a creation of the English upper classes, which allowed men who could be given the title of “gentleman” a place to escape the tedium of the world. These clubs dotted London’s West End and the grand buildings they occupied had interiors generously decorated with deep leather chairs, mahogany tables and other finery. The main forms of entertainment in the traditional gentleman’s club were gambling and conversation about current affairs.
These days, the likelihood of finding a good conversation about current affairs in a gentleman’s club is about as slim as finding an actual gentleman. In today’s world gentlemen’s clubs are still places to relax and forget ones worries and, indeed, gambling is still a prominent feature; however, as most everyone knows, the main entertainment is the aesthetic appreciation of the nude female form. Still, even though the exquisite decorum of the past has given way to the dive bar aesthetic of the present, there is no reason that we, as intelligent and evolved individuals, should not retain our status as gentlemen or ladies.
We in the Rose City are fortunate that we have so many opportunities to engage in what can only be described as appreciation of exotic dance. What follows is a quick etiquette guide to comporting oneself as a gentleman in what are crassly referred to as “strip clubs” in today’s society. This guide may be used by men and women alike and should be helpful for neophytes as well a good refresher for those with more experience.
Choosing a gentlemen’s club: There are several factors to consider when looking for a place to spend your leisure time and ultimately, your money. One should consider the surroundings of the club. How close is it to your home? Is it close enough to walk should you accidentally become inebriated? Is it so close that your neighbors, parents or romantic partner might spot you entering or existing? How is the neighborhood? Is there a chance you might be accosted by hooligans? Should you carry a form of concealed weaponry? It should be noted here, as an aside, that weaponry is not necessarily a good idea as most club security personnel frown on such things as knives, firearms or bludgeoning objects being brought into their establishments. Besides, a gentleman, though he should be well versed in pugilism, should always be able to talk his way out of a tussle.
Also of importance in choosing a club should be one’s taste in female aesthetic, if one is in fact looking for a female aesthetic. I would like to say here that I understand a great many gentlemen have preferred to enjoy the male form. There are many clubs that cater to this type of gentleman, but the rules of etiquette are not altered. Still, the importance here comes down to taste, as clubs tend to specialize in particular types of entertainment for particular types of men. For instance, Union Jacks, located on Burnside, specializes in the kind of exotic dance which can be truly called exotic. The ladies there, for they are ladies and should not be treated other than such, may have any amount of tattoos or fanciful hairstyles. On the other hand, Magic Gardens, located in Old Town, specializes in ladies who are petite and “cute” for lack of a better word. So, one must do a fair amount of exploration before choosing a club which suits their tastes. On the other hand, variety is, after all, the spice of life.
Once you have chosen the gentlemen’s club you wish to patronize, it is time for some relaxation and entertainment. However, one should remember that relaxation does not mean being lax with your manners or dignity. There are several things to remember.
Before entering the club:
Make sure that you have a good supply of George Washingtons as you will be using them to tip not only the dancers but the bartender or waitress as well. Remember, Automated Teller Machines in gentlemen’s clubs often have high fees.
Make sure you are dressed with some semblance of class. A jacket is not necessary, but a clean shirt and trousers is a must. It is best if you distinguish yourself from the ruffians who clamber in from the street for a cheap gawk. After all, you are a gentleman and a connoisseur. And the ladies (or men) who will be entertaining you will most likely gravitate to those who are well composed.
Upon entering the club: Take a look around. Locate the stage, the bar, and the restroom. Notice who the waitress might be. Is there a waitress or should you order your refreshments at the bar? Notice the music. Take note of your fellow gentlemen and keep in mind that they retain the title of gentlemen until they show that they are otherwise. All of these observations will serve to help you enjoy your time. A gentleman does not rush pell-mell into a situation, but rather enters with the most knowledge at his disposal. If things seem at all out of sorts to you, feel free to leave and find another club. After all, you are pursuing your leisure; why should a maniac wielding a broken bottle ruin it for you? If there is a waitress, find a table that is far away from the stage, but not so far as to provide poor sight lines. Make yourself comfortable and wait for your server. If there appears to be no server, order your refreshment at the bar before being seated, again, not far away from the stage but not close to it either. A note on drinks: be prepared, when ordering mixed drinks, to pay a premium. It is a rule that beer is generally cheaper than alcohol. Be sure to order something simple. This is not an occasion for adding fruit to your cocktail. Once you have your refreshments, relax and watch the dancers.
Most clubs will have a rotation of two to four dancers who will dance for three songs each. With each song they will become progressively unclothed, though this is dependent on the dancer’s style. Watch one full rotation of the dancers, being sure to tip at least one dollar for each song. Once you have taken note of all the dancers, chose the dancer you find most pleasing. This may seem crass and calculated to the uninitiated, but only a fool rushes to the stage and begins tipping heavily. Not only does he show his impatient but he has often exceeded his cash reserves before the evening is through.
Which brings me to tipping. It is absolutely necessary that you tip the ladies. This is their art and their labor and should be compensated not only with gratitude, but with cash. Many dancers work for tips only. A gentleman tips at least a dollar a song. He will tip the dancer he finds most pleasing much more than that to show his appreciation. Keep in mind that the upper limit when tipping a dancer, its defined only by how much money you can reasonably part with. If he can no longer tip a dollar per dance, a gentlemen will find his entertainment elsewhere. This is why you have chosen a particular dancer to ally yourself with. During her dances, you may approach the stage, which is reserved for tipping customers only, and proceed to show your gratitude. When the other dancers appear you can move back to your seat and tip the customary dollar or more if you wish.
Keep in mind that showing ones appreciation should not involve catcalls, vulgar phrases or rude gestures. Those are ways that uneducated animals show their appreciation and have no place in a gentleman’s behavior. When seated at the stage, one should be polite, smile and make at least a little eye contact, even though the power of the female form may compel your gaze elsewhere. In most local clubs it is customary to lay your tips on the stage or railing. The dancer will collect them after the dance. One should not wave bills at the dancer or make any gestures that might imply one’s position. A gentleman considers all men and women his equal until such time as they prove themselves otherwise. As the famous gentleman Wyclef Jean says in his song, dedicated to gentlemen and gentleman’s clubs, “Just cause she dances go-go, that don’t make her a ho, no …”
In the same song, Mr. Jean also notes one of the most important rules of the gentlemen’s club, “There’s no sex in the champagne room.” Which is to say that all establishments have strict rules on making physical contact with a dancer. Do not do it. At the very least, the security personnel could forcibly remove you from the club if you touch a dancer.
These are the basic rules and should not be violated at any cost. One should remain composed and polite at all times. Remember to refrain from becoming overly intoxicated, which may lead to a slip in composure and judgment. If the rules of etiquette are followed, one may even find themselves developing good, working relationships with dancers, which will make your leisure time even more easy and comfortable on return trips to the club. Don’t forget, when exiting the club, to make sure everyone has been sufficiently remunerated for their service and that you have thanked the dancer.
It is time to put the gentleman back into gentlemen’s clubs. I hope, should we meet some day, that I will recognize you as such by you composure and behavior and say there is a gentleman with whom I’d like to shake hands.