Why The First Lap Dance I Ever Got Ended Up Being My Last

The sad reality of going to a strip club.

Last updated on Mar 21, 2024

Man complacent in strip club, paying twenty dollars for lap dance Billion Photos, fiphoto, mihailomilovanovic | Canva

She was curvy and ravishing. She smelled like hand sanitizer. She charged $20 a song to sit on my jeans in a dim upstairs room, making conversation and moaning, and I suppose she was beautiful. But it was excruciating.

Why do men want lap dances? In my case, I was curious. I was out of town in a city with lax rules and willing to try something I'd never done before. I'd been in my share of strip clubs over the years — I certainly don't mind watching pretty women take off their clothes — and I'd seen countless men pulling out $20s as they leaned back to lock eyes with a stripper. Some of them looked like they were falling in love; some of them were leering, laughing, and joking about her in the third person to their friends.


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But despite all the scantily clad dancers who had put hands on my shoulder asking if I wanted to buy a drink or a private dance, I never did anything more than watch until that night in Toronto. The feigned closeness is part of the appeal, of course. 

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And if you squint just right and ignore the brass pole and the thumping music and the slack-jawed guys all around you, you can pretend that she cares about you and you've made some sort of connection — maybe even that you're different from all the other creeps who come slumping in the door. Inside every man, no matter how rich or powerful, is a shy 15-year-old slinking near the bleachers at the high school dance, head-over-heels for a girl he's afraid to say hi to, cultivating a fantasy that she'll make the first move and tell him how special he is. At a strip club, the shy boy can buy his dream, for a price.


I suppose this is why some men pay for this. All the stories we hear about high-priced call girls mention the same kinds of clients: married men in their 40s and 50s who want a warm connection with no strings attached, a couple of hours devoted only to their pleasure. I guess they buy a little bit of delusion, too; even if I didn't think it was morally wrong to think I could purchase a woman's affection along with her body, I’d never be able to convince myself that she'd sold it.



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I had my pick — hair color and length, tall or short, busty or petite. It takes all kinds, I guess. I honestly don't remember her name anymore; I remember that I picked her because she looked like my girlfriend. I remember easing back on a red cushioned bench while she crawled up and down me, performed acrobatics inches from my face, and told me how great it felt. She told me about growing up in the plains of Ontario and asked me to buy her more overpriced glasses of Zinfandel. And when I said I'd had enough, she said no, couldn't I stay for one more song?


It was stimulating, yes — I'm only human — but I walked outside that night feeling awful about myself. Everything that went on inside those doors was a perversion of what I've always believed about men and women: There, they pretend to like each other, but they are just trying to satisfy themselves. It's a sad bargain, and I had just taken part in it. For a fistful of money, I was complicit.

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Joe Nelson is a freelance writer and former contributor to YourTango.