Over Spring Break a close friend of mine invited me to attend a male friend’s birthday festivities with her. I had never met the friend and did not know anyone that would be in attendance besides her. However, I was intrigued when she mentioned that the festivities would end at a famous gentlemen’s club in Atlanta called Follies. I had been to gentlemen’s clubs with female friends, but never a group of males. Attending one with mostly men allowed me to focus in on the “ritual” of attending a gentlemen’s club. The ritual began with drinks, of course, at a sports bar. All the guest in attendance, especially the males guest, would casually mention the club in conversation, and make reference to the types of women that worked at the club and what they expected the women to do. One of the interesting things about Follies gentlemen’s club is that it is known to be multi-racial, unlike other gentlemen’s clubs in Atlanta that feature either solely African American or Caucasian women. When we arrived at the club, the line outside was a mixed crowd of age, race and gender. The patrons immediately in front of us were from Africa. At this point, the second part of the ritual of the gentlemen’s club visit begin to take place; the anticipation. The men that I was with, and the men that were surrounding our group, struck up conversations about what type of women they wanted to see inside the club. I found it peculiar that men seemed to be attracted to women that were opposite of the type of woman that they would normally date or associate with. Many of the black men noted that they wanted to view the clubs Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian women. While I overheard white men discussing a particular dancer, who’s description eluded to her race as being African American. I drew the conclusion that Follies was a place for men to live out sexual fantasies based on defying cultural taboos, such as dating or having sexual relations outside of one’s own race.
Once inside the club, we all gathered around the stage and watched as each woman stepped up to perform as her name was called. The women were dressed in attire similar to swimsuits that were flashy and drew attention to their female body parts. While performing, the women would do moves or dances they believed would entice their patrons. Many of the moves were sexual in nature, as most of the caressed their breast and rubbed their genitals. Others danced seductively; doing a particular style of dance referred to as “twerking” in urban culture, which involved the shaking and gyrating of the buttocks. As the women danced, they removed the minimal clothing that they had on; most ending up completely naked before the audience. These dance movement particularly excited the men, while the women in the club seemed to be more excited by the dancers’ use of pole tricks. The women performed acrobatic tricks such as spinning, climbing down and sliding on the pole. The danger in the tricks that they performed combined with their overt sexuality created a very entertaining show. The more pole tricks and dancing that they did, the more money that patrons threw on the stage for them to collect at the end of the performance.
If they were not performing, many of the dancers would attempt to persuade patrons into purchasing personal dances from them that took place in a private room. Of course, the birthday boy felt that it was only right that he received one of these personal dances, and as a joke, purchased one for my friend and I. The dancer grabbed our hands and led us back to a dimly lit dark room where we sat as she proceeded to give her private performance. As a heterosexual woman, it was strange to have another woman perform such sexual moves on me. Many of the dance moves used in the private dances were ones that would arouse men. They were particularly focused on grinding against the genital reason and close body contact. Although we were not attracted to the dancer, my female friend and I could not help but be intrigued by her and extremely aware of her sexual energy. The male friend expressed that he was aroused after the dance and that he would like to take his relationship with the dancer further than the dark private room. It soon registered to me that he would never fulfill is fantasy with the dancer, and this was how they earned money in the gentlemen’s club, by selling the fantasy of overt sexuality, intercourse and desire. As we left the club, the men discussed the things that they had seen inside and what particular women had done that they found pleasing. My friend and I even joined in on the conversation as well, our post-experience recap thus ending the gentlemen’s club ritual. I could not help but think that male sexual desire was so domineering that it would allow them to pay to be teased.