Staying healthy is important for anyone, but dancing is especially hard on our bodies. If we fail to keep our wellness in mind, then we can’t keep working. Dancers may be good at taking care of others, but we also have to take care of ourselves.
Taking care of your breasts should include regular self-exams, clinical exams given by a healthcare professional, and mammograms if you are over the age of 40. Breast implants require a little extra attention, so check them regularly. Learn the origin of your implants in case of accidental leaking.
Pregnancy & Dancing
Being pregnant and breastfeeding, while dancing can be challenging and overwhelming.
Here are some suggestions from dancers who have worked while pregnant and/or breastfed:
- Hide your pregnancy from your club for as long as possible. Even the most supportive club is going to be on your back about it.
- Stay hydrated, well-fed, and listen to your body. Onstage, do what you’re comfortable with. There’s no need to stop doing pole until your 3rd trimester unless your doctor says otherwise.
- Once you can no longer hide it, capitalize on it!! Pregnancy fetish exists and some customers may be easier to manipulate into larger tips if you tell them you need baby stuff.
- Know the labor laws in your area and do your research on your maternity rights within the workplace.
- Avoiding alcohol can be tricky in a strip club but there are tried and true tricks to help you stay off booze and also make money. Having a good relationship with your bartender is key! Ginger ale as a replacement for champagne or virgin shots are both classics. If your bartender is a jerk, or is bound by laws that prevent fake drinks from being served, order shots with chasers. Take the shot into your mouth, then spit it into the chaser.
- Get an electric pump. Pump every 2-3 hours to maintain supply and also to prevent leaking.
- Your club is legally required to provide you with a private area with a sink. However, be prepared to stake out the comfy seat near the outlet.
- Bring a cooler with ice and spare bottles to refrigerate milk in because not all clubs will give you access to a refrigerator. Transfer milk to fridge or freezer the minute you get home.
Every dancer experiences pregnancy and parenthood in a unique way. The choice to stop dancing or to come back to work postpartum is something only you will know for yourself.
“I worked when I was pregnant so I couldn’t really drink. It was hard sometimes, but the customers usually didn’t even notice. One night a customer bought me 28 glasses of champagne! He didn’t even notice I wasn’t drinking them because he was so drunk!”
Condoms & Oral Sex
If you’re having sex, the best way to keep safe from HIV and STD/STIs is protection. For optimal STD/STI prevention, always use barrier methods: condoms, cervical caps, diaphragms, and spermicides.
Condoms are safe if used correctly. To assure safety, first check the expiration date on the condom pack, then open the pack from one side and take out the condom. Hold the tip so that you can have a little space. Roll the condom onto the penis. If the condom does not fit, or they think that there is just no feeling, add a little lube to the inside of the condom before putting it on. Putting lube on the outside of the condom can also help with comfort and safety. There are many different kinds of condoms in all shapes and sizes, including the female condom.
Oral sex is low risk for HIV infection, but STD/STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes can be more easily transmitted this way. Many of these infections are easily diagnosed with simple screening and can be treated with available medications.
If you’re concerned you’ve gotten burned, check out our resources section to find a place to get tested that’s affordable and sensitive.
STI & HIV Testing
It’s a good idea for you and your partners to get tested every three to six months. We know that testing can be scary, but it is important for your safety.
HIV testing can be free, easy, confidential, and anonymous. Today, an oral test can be used instead of needles and you don’t always have to give your name. Before you are tested, you can talk to someone who is there to help you. There are many HIV testing counselors who care and are concerned. Although there is no cure, if you test positive, new treatments and services can help you live a long and healthy life.
STI & HIV Testing Resources
As dancers, our jobs can be incredibly physically demanding. We often end up working long, weird hours in compromising atmospheres. Staying awake all night and providing service with a smile can be tough. How do we do it? There are, of course, the old stereotypical industry standbys (cocaine, tequila) or the college student staples (coffee, red bull), but all are problematic with long-term use and can leave you feeling skittish and sleepless by the end of your shift.
Here are a few nutrition tips for taking care of your body and maintaining your energy levels on the job:
- Have a filling, balanced meal before your shift. Be sure to avoid refined sugars, candy bars, and energy drinks. Caffeine and sugar give you quick energy, but they fade just as fast! Peanut butter, lean meat, fresh fruit and veggies, and whole grains are always a good choice.
- Keep healthy snacks stocked in your locker or work bag – dried fruits and bottled water are some dancer favorites.
- Though it’s easy to run low on energy at work, avoid cocaine, alcohol, and energy drinks when possible. They are short-term fixes with many long-term downsides.
- Drink lots of water! It keeps you full, keeps your skin clear, and (if you’re drinking alcohol) helps prevent a hangover.
Think of yourself as an athlete – your job is not just dancing, but pulling long hours on your feet, keeping a positive attitude, radiating great skin and hair. It’s impossible to do these things without maintaining your personal well being. Your body is one of your most important investments – treat it well!
Because of the kind of work we do, we come into a lot of physical contact with different people. We all have moments when we’ve been grossed out, whether it’s the guy with the bad breath, the guy who looks like he hasn’t showered, or the guy who wants to put his mouth all over you.
You may be wondering how clean the pole is, what those stains in the champagne room are, or why there are so many rats running around under the bar. It’s easy to become desensitized to working in these conditions, but it’s important to manage your personal hygiene at work. If your dressing room doesn’t have hand sanitizer or baby wipes, you might want to bring your own.
Fitness & Pole Studios
Exercise is not only great for our physical health, but can also be a form of stress relief. Even light stretching can be beneficial, especially after long, hard hours at the club.
24 hour gyms are a good option for our hectic schedules, especially after work when we are still wired after a night at work.
Pole dancing is trending, so take advantage of the new studios popping up to learn some tricks for work. Try pairing up with a buddy who has a home pole or consider investing in a home pole. Practice your tricks at work when the club is slow or there is an extra stage available.
Stripper-Inclusive Pole Studios
- Tease Studio – Denver, CO
While appearances certainly aren’t everything when it comes to being a successful dancer, they sure are an important factor. One thing to remember is that strippers come in all shapes, ages, sizes, ethnicities, backgrounds, and levels of experience. Ultimately, there is a customer for everyone.
There are “types” of dancers who get hired more easily in certain clubs. In supposed “high profile” clubs, it’s often easier to get hired if you’re cisgender, young, thin, and white or faired complected If you don’t fit that “type”, you may have fewer options for where to work, and you may have to work harder to make your money. If you do not fall into the conventional standards of American and Euro-centric beauty, you will have to prove yourself successful more than your counterparts who may fall into that category.
This can be a tough industry to work in and it’s easy to start to feel bad about ourselves — or our coworkers — when we face this daily pressure to look a certain way. Of course, we all know that the days when we feel hot are often our best days on the job.
Most major cities offer great places to snag spa deals, great haircuts and blowouts, discount waxing and hair removal, and even explore surgical treatment if you choose that route.
If you find yourself spending a lot of money just to fit in at work, make sure it’s worth it— that you are making your money back and then some. You may be able to spend less, make more, and feel better about yourself at a club that’s more relaxed.
“As a dark-skinned black woman, the number of clubs I can work at are limited. Even though I walk in looking fine, management just sees my race and automatically tells me they aren’t hiring. I know that’s not true, because my white friend may have just been hired at that same club!”
“Once, I had a customer who told me he liked older dancers like me, but that they were hard to find – too many of the girls were young and he thought they were immature.”
Scars, Stretch Marks, & Blemishes
Putting ourselves up close and personal with strangers can be intimidating because it can feel like our imperfections are on full display. Customers or management may ask questions that you may be more comfortable not answering. Worse, entitled customers can often feel emboldened by the power dynamic they assume and will give unsolicited advice or unavoidable commentary. Hold your head high and know that nobody is truly flawless!
Practicing self care to avoid burn out is important for any job. While most of us have limited time and hectic schedules, it is important that we give ourselves permission to relax and recuperate. There is no right or wrong way to unwind. What matters is that you are able to find some time that is for yourself.
Take a look at some of our cost effective ways to honor your body and mind:
- Create healthy habits like a before work routine and after work routine.
- Adult coloring books and journaling
- Read a new book
- Create different playlist of music you enjoy
- Spend time with friends, while being fully present
- Get outdoors
- Unplug from your phone and/or social media
- Have a mini meditation and spend a few minutes focusing on your breath
- Treat yourself a little – splurge on a small treat like a ice cream, coffee, or smoothie.
- If you can’t take time off of work, then try to allocate small increments of “you time”.
- Use small windows of your alone time to re-center and relax.
Self Care Resources
- Annie Sprinkle’s Guide to Cure SWer Burnout
- Antonia Crane’s Stripper Self Care Guide
Depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns are widely experienced in our community, but not often discussed. It is important that while there is stigma surrounding mental health problems, you remember that you are not alone. Mental health issues are complicated and can make you feel isolated without the right support or validation. However, there is NOTHING wrong with you for seeking help, but rather, a sign of strength for honoring your need for care. While you may feel scared and apprehensive to seek help, we assure you there are quality, affordable professional services that can answer your questions and help you find the help that best suits your unique needs.
Mental Health Resources
- PROS Network Chicago http://www.prosnetworkchicago.org/“PROS Network-Chicago” (Providers and Resources Offering Services to sex workers) is a directory of direct service providers and legal, medical and mental health professionals who are capable of providing non-judgmental, client-centric and harm reduction-oriented services to individuals in the sex industry.
- RAD Remedy Alliance https://radremedy.org/Connecting trans, gender non-conforming, intersex, and queer folks to accurate, safe, respectful, and comprehensive care.
Crisis Hotlines & Free/Low Cost Support
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- National Sexual Assault Hotline
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- American Group Psychotherapy Association
- Group therapy can be a lower cost option than private sessions, and some of us do our best work when interacting with others. Affiliated certified group psychotherapists in most states offer group therapy sessions.Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- Kink Aware Professionals
- National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI)
- A helpline with trained staff who can answer questions on your mental health symptoms, treatment options, and resolving legal issues.Queer Mental Health
- Online peer support website for the LGBTQ community and their concerned partners. A safe, supportive, anonymous space for everyone who falls under the queer umbrella.
- A free hotline for everything you EVER wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask. Seriously. These folks know all.Sex Worker Outreach Project Hotline
- A community support “warm-line” (not staffed all the time), for current and former sex workers, activists, organizers, and allies.