Updated: Jul 11, 2021
Strippers are at risk of losing safe places to work. This is what it will mean for people like me who work there.
Regulated strip clubs are currently legal and employ thousands of people (mostly women) across the U.K.
However, there are some groups and politicians that are trying to shut down these regulated clubs, which will mean thousands of dancers lose a safe place to work. These groups are trying to say that strip clubs are harmful to women, but in fact, if regulated clubs close, women will be put in danger.
Regulated strip clubs have to have safety measures in places, such as security staff, CCTV and no touching policies. Without them, dancers will be forced to work in unsafe environments, such as unregulated clubs, or at private parties and events, where there will be no measures in place to protect them.
Not only this, but if the clubs close, thousands of dancers will lose a steady source of income and the option of flexible hours. This will be a huge tragedy for dancers who are working class, funding higher education, have family members depending on them, or need flexible hours due to caring responsibilities, education commitments or struggling with mental health/ disabilities.
I start dancing in 2019 and fell in love with it straight the way. Upon graduating university I had been directionless, flitting between living off benefits and working minimum wage jobs that I hated. I was regularly drinking heavily as I had nothing else to focus on and I was constantly stressed about paying rent and bills.
When I started dancing two things happened - I found a job that I loved, and I no longer had to worry about money. It meant that my dream of undertaking a masters degree was actually a realistic possibility. My confidence improved ten fold. I suddenly started caring about my health and fitness, and I cut down drinking and took up dance lessons. It felt like I finally had goals and something to work for.
When the pandemic hit I really struggled (as did most of my dancer colleagues), but I got through knowing that I could go back to dancing when the pandemic ends, and I spent the year working on my dance skills as well as working minimum wage again to get by. The fact that clubs are under threat terrifies me, as I am worried all my hard work will have been for nothing and I will end up back in a directionless life of poverty.
I am scared of returning to exploitative minimum wage jobs, and losing financial security for myself and my family and the option to further my education. For many dancers, such as those with children, losing financial security is not an option, and without regulated clubs these dancers may put themselves in danger to remain in this industry.
I’ve always felt safe at work, I’ve worked in several clubs and all of them had strictly enforced no touching policies, CCTV that is constantly monitored and staff who refuse to tolerate any sexual harassment. The staff look after us, making sure we are not drunk or put in vulnerable positions, and arranging taxis for us or escorting us to cars so we get home safely. I feel so much safer working in a strip club than I do in a typical nightclub.
Not everyone in the industry adores their job like I do, it is a job after all, but all of us deserve a safe, regulated workplace.
Clubs nationwide are at risk of closing down. In some cities, the risk is more imminent as the pressure from anti-sex worker groups has already got the council to look into closing the clubs. Blackpool and Bristol are the two cities where the clubs are most at risk of closing.
Please sign the petitions to keep the clubs in these cities open. And wherever in the U.K. you are based, please write to your MP to demand that regulated clubs stay open, so dancers can stay safe at work and keep their choice of how they want to earn money.