Proper strip club etiquette is not something Mom taught you and it was never covered by Miss Manners. Still, most of this stuff should be obvious to any guy with half a brain, but I’ve heard so many dancers complain about so many customers through the years that I have to be frank. Here are the six basic rules you should always keep in mind.
Six Rules of Vegas Strip Club Etiquette
1) Before you go to a strip club, take a shower, put on clean clothes, and use mouthwash and deodorant. If this doesn’t make sense to you, consider it from the dancer’s perspective. Imagine that it’s your job to walk around a dark crowded room in a g-string, sitting in strangers’ laps and hoping they don’t try to pinch your nipples. Obviously, very few guys would actually have the guts to do what these women do for a living, but just try to imagine that’s your job. Wouldn’t you at least want these strangers to be clean?
2) If you’re sitting on the rail, you should tip each dancer. If you’re too broke to tip a buck, then sit somewhere else so a tipper can take your seat. This is especially true if all the other seats on the rail are occupied. The dancers you’re watching are paying for the right to dance there, hoping you’ll appreciate their efforts enough to tip them. They’re paid nothing by the clubs and earn their living from tips. Get a clue.
3) If a dancer approaches you to offer a lap dance, a private show, or whatever, and you have no intention of taking her up on the offer, always be polite to her. Don’t cut her off when she’s talking. Tell her she’s cute and you’re tempted, but you just want to watch the show. If she persists, just keep saying “Maybe later.” Never be rude. And if you’re broke, tell her you’re broke.
4) Never ask a dancer for her phone number. Never ask a dancer for a date. Never ask her what her real name is. If she wants you to know her real name (highly unlikely), she’ll tell you. If you ask her, she’ll think you’re a jerk. Lots of guys ask dancers for their real names, so they tend to think of lots of guys as jerks. Even if a dancer does tell you her “real” name, it may be just another fake.
The key to what’s going on here is that she’s a performer. You’re the audience. She’s a professional trying to create a fantasy world where you can pretend for the moment that she’s interested in you, she finds you attractive, and you really turn her on. But you don’t turn her on, so don’t kid yourself. And she doesn’t want to fuck you, even though she’s acting like she does. That’s her job. She’s not thinking of you as some guy she wants to get to know. If she asks you what your name is, it’s part of her act.
When you go into a strip club, you leave the real world behind. This is fantasy land. You’re here to have fun and to take away some visuals and memories, not get involved in a relationship.
Of course, when I say, “Never ask a dancer for her phone number,” or her real name, or for a date, I realize there’s no such thing as never. Dancers are human and they’re sometimes attracted to guys in the clubs where they work. If you’re a local and hang out at Cheetahs or the Rhino seven nights a week, 364 nights a year (you go to High Mass on Christmas Eve), you may possibly get involved in the lives of some dancers, and one of them might wind up as your girlfriend, or even your wife. Chemistry works in mysterious ways.
Sometimes, dancers are attracted to customers who simply fit their “type.” Dancers who are socially rebellious might be attracted to guys who strike them the same way—outlaw bikers, musicians in rock bands, natural “bad boys,” etc. Guys who work in glamour professions—acting, athletics, or any type of entertainment-industry job, which in Vegas might be a stand-up comic, a magician, a singer, etc.—are more likely to get a dancer’s phone number than a working stiff.
And some guys are just good at picking up girls. They’re funny and charming and flirty and confident—and it’s not that they’re skilled at scoring with dancers so much as scoring with women, period. But most of these guys would probably find it easier to hook up with a date in a pick-up bar than in a strip club, because most dancers really are there to work and make money and many aren’t open to having social relationships with customers. Some have husbands or boyfriends and not a few are involved with other women and have no interest in men whatsoever.
Oh yes, and millionaires who are dripping hundred-dollar bills as they walk might also find it easier than most guys to pick up a dancer, but then these dudes also find it easier to pick up secretaries, waitresses, college girls, and anything else wearing a skirt, and that’s just the world we live in. But those situations happen to, perhaps, 1% of the guys who visit Las Vegas strip clubs. The other 99% of us are just there for a flesh fantasy and shouldn’t consider making a play for one of the dancers. On this website, I’m addressing the 99% of you.
5) It’s not what the club allows or what the law allows, it’s what the dancer allows. If you’re with a dancer who allows you to fondle or caress her during a lap or VIP-room dance, never try to touch her in any way that she discourages. She should not have to discourage your hands more than once.
And always touch her gently. If she lets you feel her up, never squeeze or pinch her nipples. Never be rough in any way, and never, ever try to kiss a dancer on the mouth. Respect every dancer’s limits, even when she’s driving you to the brink of your self-control. Remember, if you try to violate her limits, don’t be surprised if she disappears as soon as she can.
What if every guy in the VIP room is getting a full-contact lap dance, while the dancer with you is into air dancing only? Live with it! Treat her with respect. If you feel what you’re getting is far below the normal standards for this club and you’ve seen this dancer provide full-contact laps for other guys, then I’d suggest you go back and reread Etiquette Rule #1.
The central theme to all of these rules of etiquette is this: Always show respect for the dancers. If you’re under the impression that dancing in a strip club is an easy lifestyle, you’re mistaken. I’ve heard guys say that in their opinion, dancers just get “money for nothing.” In fact, stage performance is always stressful and difficult, even for those who are born exhibitionists and thrive on the rush of performing. Many stage actors and singers get physically sick before performances. Musicians, standup comics, and public speakers have long used alcohol and drugs just to do what they do on stage. Strippers are no different.
As with rock and jazz musicians, stand-up comics, and all nightclub performers, the competition for jobs is fierce, the lifestyle invites exploitation of the artists by club personnel, and the loose party environment makes access to drugs and alcohol easy and abuse widespread. In the same sense that we show respect for the bands that get us revved up and the comics who make us laugh, we should respect strippers for giving us fantasies, making us smile, and turning us on. Oh, yes, one other rule …
6) Don’t fart in the VIP room.
Las Vegas Strip Club Tipping Etiquette
Las Vegas strip-club dancers work for tips. They’re not employees of the clubs where they work. Like the customers, they pay to get in the door, and they pay the club more to work there than the customers pay to see them work. Depending on the club, stage fees and tipouts can cost each dancer upwards of $100 per shift. If a dancer doesn’t garner substantially more than her club fees in tips, she cannot afford to work as a dancer. Stiffing dancers you like is therefore a greater sin than not tipping waitresses in restaurants. Waitresses, at least, don’t pay to work.
The only reason you go to a strip club is to see the dancers. No one goes to a strip club, where the drinks are so expensive, just to have a beer. As a general rule, you should tip the dancers you like the most and don’t tip the dancers you don’t care for. If I don’t like most of the dancers in a club, I don’t patronize that club. If I don’t care for a particular dancer on stage, I get off the rail.
Every club has a set fee for a lap dance—in Vegas it’s usually $20, though a few clubs charge $30, one charges $35, and one charges only $10. You can ask any dancer what a lap dance costs and they’ll all quote the fee set by the house. You never have to tip a lap dancer more than this amount for a lap dance. But if you give the dancer an extra $5 or $10, she really appreciates it.
If you don’t have the money for a lap dance and you really like a dancer, tip her $5 or whatever you can afford when she comes around trying to sell laps. Tell her you want to tip her because you dig the way she dances, but you don’t have the money for a lap dance. Remember that the dancers make their money from us, not the clubs, and we want to ensure the survival of the finest.
And don’t forget that dancers are performers. Applause is often as important to a performer as money, and there’s very little applause for stage dancers in strip clubs. If you get a lap dance, lavish the dancer with praise for her beauty, her talent, her sexiness. These women work hard for their money, so say whatever you can to let the really good dancers know how much they’re appreciated.
Guys Who Never Tip
Now let me address some of you guys who go to strip clubs but don’t tip the dancers: You cheapskates bug the shit outta me. You give men a bad name.
A couple years ago at Deja Vu Showgirls in Vegas, a dancer who had just finished her stage set came to the bar where I was sitting and ordered a drink. I gave her five bucks and told her I liked the way she danced. She asked me if I wanted a lap dance and I told her no thanks; I was leaving the club as soon as I finished my drink.
After she walked away, the guy sitting next to me at the bar said, “I can’t believe you just threw five bucks away on that girl.”
We had a brief conversation in which I learned that he never tipped dancers. “You’re just throwing your money away,” he insisted. “They’ll never go out with you if you tip them.”
“I wasn’t asking her to go out with me,” I said. “I tipped her because I liked the way she danced.”
“You’re wasting your money,” he said. He then told me that he’d found a website that explained how to get strippers to meet you at a motel after their shift. And rule number one, he said, was that you never tip them.
I asked him how many dancers he’d picked up with this technique.
“None yet,” he said. “I still haven’t mastered it. I just read the free stuff online. I’ll probably spend the money to take the advanced course.”
I finished my beer and left. Figured the guy was a nut case. But some time later, sitting at my computer, I thought about him and Googled “how to pick up strippers,” to see if there really was such a website.
I quickly learned there’s a whole industry of “self-help” gurus publishing their “inside secrets” on how to pick up dancers in strip clubs. Some of these hucksters also sell creams that’ll add inches to your dick, and “magic words” that’ll make any woman hot for you even if you’re broke and ugly.
One of the main “rules” these strip-club-swamis preach is that if you want dancers to go home with you when they get off work, don’t tip them in the clubs. It’s okay to buy a dancer a drink once in a while, as you charm her with your wit and coolness. But don’t ever lay a buck on the stage, or buy a lap dance, or God forbid three songs in the VIP.
If you never tip them, they won’t be able to resist you when you suggest meeting up somewhere when they get off of work. They’ll know you’re not like all those other pathetic losers who have to pay for fun. You’re the real thing, a real man, the kind of hot dude they’ve been waiting for.
Let me set you straight, guys: If you hang around in a strip club and never tip the dancers, the dancers won’t think you’re cool. They’ll think you’re cheap. They might think you’re creepy. If you’re broke and just sitting at the bar having a beer, fine. I’ve been there. But don’t waste dancers’ time flirting with them if you have no money you can part with.
Strip Club Etiquette for Dancers
1) Cool it on the perfume if you’re trying to sell lap dances. Many guys have to go home to a wife or girlfriend who may not know of his predilection for strip clubs. These guys will not allow perfumed dancers to touch them.
2) Some guys don’t want to be part of the show. If one of your talents is taking dollar bills from a guy’s mouth with your titties, don’t assume every guy on the rail wants to tip you this way. Some guys just want to watch. Some like to sit on the rail and tip a dancer, but they give up their seat when a dancer insists on putting them in the show this way.
3) Don’t badger a guy for a lap dance, a drink, or anything else. If he says no politely, accept it. If you think he’s just too shy to say yes, engage him in conversation for a minute or two, and then ask once more if you could change his mind. Then drop it.
4) If you approach a guy for a lap dance, let him see you before you ask. Don’t come up from behind him and start talking over his shoulder.
Every guy has a “type” of girl he likes—short, tall, slender, hippy, big tits, little tits, whatever. He needs to see what you look like before you ask. A lot of guys don’t like turning around to check out the body of a girl who’s talking to them from behind, because they don’t want you to feel rejected if they don’t like what they see. So they just say no without looking, like they’re not in the mood.
But I can’t tell you how many dancers I’ve turned down, only to think as I watched them walk away, geez, if I’d have seen that cute ass, I’d have said yes in a heartbeat!
5) Always be up front about costs. If a guy agrees to three songs for $100 in the VIP room, don’t entertain him for four or five songs, then tell him he owes you more than $100. When the three songs he agreed to are up, make sure he understands that he has to pay more if he wants more.
Also, if there’s a bar-tab requirement in the VIP room, tell the guy before you go in. Don’t wait until you’re already there to tell him there’s an additional forty-dollar drink requirement.
6) Finally, be gentle and easy with all guys. Never just plop down on a guy’s lap to ask him if he wants a lap dance. Sit down only if he seems to be making his lap available or after he says yes to the lap dance.
During a lap dance, don’t be rough. Don’t box a guy’s face with your boobs. There may be some humor in doing this to a guy who’s on stage for a bachelor party, but most guys don’t find this erotic. And don’t pinch a guy’s nipples, which turns off many men (and women). Even if you like rough handling, having your nipples pinched, etc., you wouldn’t want every guy to immediately treat you this way. Do unto others.
Strip Club Bouncers, Hosts & Floormen:
Big Brutes in Suits
Usually, a strip club bouncer or host stands at the entryway to the VIP room. It’s his job to make sure there are no problems. You’re not a stiff if you don’t tip the bouncer.
But it might not be a bad idea to take care of him on your way in if you’re hoping for a high-mileage dance and you want as much privacy as you can get. He may be able to steer other VIP room arrivals away from you. Toke him $10 for the minimal time allotment (usually three songs) or $20 for a half-hour or more.
Sometimes a dancer will ask you to tip the bouncer or to give her some money to tip the bouncer. The dancers must tip the bouncers as part of their tipout, so if you like the dancer and she treats you well, contributing to the bouncer is considered the gentlemanly thing to do.
If you’re on a strict budget, however, and you’ve just spent your rent money on the VIP room, the bar tab, and a little extra for the dancer, if she asks you to contribute to the bouncer’s tip, politely tell her you’re tapped out.