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I was made aware of his article in the Guardian on Students paying their college fees by Lap Dancing on the face book site SAVE HACKNEY’S STRIP VENUES
You can read the full article with links “HERE”
What I liked was that the dancers being interviewed did not want to be described as a sex worker. Erotic dance is erotic but it is not selling sex. This is why it is wrong for the government to allow local councils to force lap dancing and strip venues to register as sex encounter establishments which requires a special license which is likely to be declined. The campaign against the closure of adult venues goes on and is gathering strength all the time. It is essential, vital even for our society that people stand up against those in authority who want to decide for you what you can see or do as a consenting adult.
Student by day … lap-dancer by night It doesn’t clash with lectures and pays up to £300 a night. Rowenna Davis talks to students who are funding their studies by lap-dancing
Rowenna Davis The Guardian, Tuesday 15 February 2011 Article history
Of the lap-dancers by surveyed recently by Leeds University one in three were working to fund education. Photograph: Anna Gordon
Joy Nilsson is a student protester, but not as we know it. She has just started an MSc at a London university. Today she is bundled up in a puffa jacket and a fluorescent waistcoat outside Hackney Town Hall, marching along with a group carrying signs and shouting through megaphones. But this protest is not about tuition fees or higher education funding cuts. These women are here to oppose a plan to clamp down on east London’s menagerie of strip and lap-dancing clubs. If the plan goes through, Nilsson says she will struggle to be able to pay for her postgraduate course, because she is funding it with her job as a professional lap-dancer.
“If they close the clubs many women will drop out of higher education,” she says. “I don’t want to owe £50,000 when I graduate, and I know other women feel the same. I love my job and I’m very proud of what I do – it fits perfectly with my studying, it’s very flexible and you get your money up front. What other jobs give you that kind of freedom?”
Lap-dancing for degrees is becoming a common phenomenon. A recent study of over 200 lap-dancers carried out by Leeds University found that one in three of those surveyed were working to fund education. The majority of these were younger women, with 14% working to fund undergraduate study; 6% were on postgraduate courses and 4% in further education. At a time when fees are about to increase, there is widespread expectation that more women will turn to this industry to fund their studies.
Patricia Barnes is one example. A 19-year-old in her first year at Southampton Solent University, she started dancing at a local club, Aqua Lounge, to pay off debts that started mounting when her student loan arrived three months late. With no space available in over-subscribed student halls, Barnes rented a shared house in the private sector, which cost a good deal more. She maxed out her overdraft and credit card in the process. Her mother had already got into debt trying to help her, and Barnes says there was no way she could ask for more. Now when her mum asks where she’s getting her money, Barnes simply tells her she’s working part time for a communications company.
“No one wants to see their kids doing it, but I know why I’m here,” she says. “In my last job I wasn’t guaranteed £20 for three hours; here I could make £200. I’ve paid back the deposit on my house, started paying back my credit card and kept up with my rent. I can make my rent in three days here. Without that I’d still be in a lot of debt.”
Barnes says she got into dancing during a night out. She and some friends went into the club for fun, and got talking to one of the dancers. When her eyes widened after hearing that it was possible to make £300 a night, the dancer said they were looking for more women, and introduced her to the manager.
“I had to audition on a client in the club, but I practised on one of the girls beforehand. She gave me some tips, like doing more floor work. You have to be completely naked. That was the worst part – getting comfortable with everything. I practised on my housemates, too, after a few drinks – I figured if I could do it for them it was OK. I was embarrassed at first, but that went away. The girls are great, and my manager is excellent.”
Barnes has mixed feelings about what she is doing. “At work I’m proud of dancing, but out of work I feel a bit ashamed,” she says. “People can judge you – it’s the picture it paints: she’s a stripper so she’s a slag … I haven’t told anyone apart from my best friends, and my mum’s religious so I definitely wouldn’ t tell her.”
The club’s manager, Vicki Andrews, also paid her way though university as a dancer, working for eight years before she opened Aqua Lounge in 2005. Now she says she’s in a position to provide opportunities for others, and would give priority to students looking for work. “We’ve had a lot of inquiries from younger girls since the [student] protests started,” she says. “From 18-year-olds who think they’ll be off to study soon and they need to do something to help fund it. Some are worried about paying for accommodation, and many parents are not in a position to help. We rarely turn anyone down, but if we reached saturation point I would prioritise those who felt most hard pushed trying to fund their education.”
In the research study by Leeds, most women worked between two and four eight-hour shifts a week, and the average earni ngs were £232. However, there was huge variation between clubs, reflecting the diversity of work available. While Barnes generally makes £60-£80 a night to help fund her degree dancing privately for individual clients in her underwear, Nilsson can often earn up to £200 a night for her MSc by putting on collective shows for large audiences in a strip club that offers something much closer to burlesque entertainment.
Three quarters of all the dancers surveyed reported good job satisfaction, but interviews took place only in clubs where open access to staff had been granted by the management, so a high rate of satisfaction could be expected.
“Dancing is a strategy,” says Dr Kate Hardy, who helped to undertake the research led by Dr Teela Sanders on behalf of the Economic and Social Research Council. “A large proportion of the women we spoke to were dancing to continue education or to balance inconsistent work, often in the creative arts. Most saw it as a bit of fun because it wasn’t for ever – after studying, the idea is to move and get a graduate job. The money isn’t easy, but 80% of the women said they liked the work because they earned more than in other jobs and 88% said that they liked the flexibility – there’s no need for them to go in when exams or essays are due in.”
The hours mean that students are able to lead something of a double life, engaging with lectures and studies during the day and working evening shifts late into the night. “I don’t think anyone has any idea what I do,” says Nilsson with a smile. “Sometimes I go to lectures with a bag full of kinky outfits so I can go straight to work. During the day I don’t even wear any make-up. It just shows that you never know.”