The financial crisis has stripped the lap dancing industry of its standards, research has found. According to a study conducted by the University of Leeds, the decline in business since 2008 has led to club owners squeezing more money out of their dancers amid efforts to cover business overheads.
Pay cheques are not the only casualty. Clubs have increased substantially the number of girls on stage to lure in more clientele. Dancers have complained about a loss of professionalism as they compete against more immigrants and students for business. “[I]nstead of being with three other girls you’re with eight other girls. It’s the sort of downward spiral,” says one girl.
“You’d see some girl who wasn’t very pretty, couldn’t dance, had a crap outfit making a lot more money than you because she was there to make money, not to enjoy herself and be creative, so she would be pushier,” complained another dancer.
Since 2002 the number of clubs in Britain has jumped from 200 to 250-300, generating over £300m annually. The lap dancing industry joins a long list of sectors that have been harmed by the effects of the financial crisis, from retail to real estate.
“There has been a real change,” Dr Teela Sanders, one of the study’s authors, told The Times. “The aesthetics of the dancers has overtaken, as well as the skills of flirting and chatting.”
Whether dancers had talent on the pole was irrelevant to club owners, the study claimed. “The core necessary skills shifted from performance to hustling for private dances.”
The majority of dancers, some 60%, were working or studying by day and lap dancing by night in order to pay the bills. “They strategically used lap dancing as a stepping stone to other careers, training and personal projects such as buying a house or setting up a business,” the report said.