Where is the love?
I’ve not talked too much about the competitive nature of what I do. I’ve mentioned office drama vaguely. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned it directly at all. Perhaps a few instances here and there of “if you see others doing well, and you’re not, don’t take it personally…” But I don’t recall ever mentioning what the dressing room is like…
It’s definitely dependent on the club and the environment it creates for itself, its patrons, and its staff. PT1109 in Columbia, SC is very friendly, in my opinion. For the most part the patrons are very good natured, the bartenders are supportive of the dancers, the owner is a no-nonsense type of dude, and 90% of the dancers are laid back. Every now and then we get an asshole in there, but they don’t last long at PT1109. That bar is definitely the kind of place where attitude isn’t rewarded much, no matter how big your muscles are.
Conversely, Swinging Richards can sometimes feel like a fucking beauty pageant backstage. What a bunch of stupid drama!! And men have the audacity to call women gossipy?? These straight guys cease being sexy the moment they walk back stage and start talking… ugh! For the most part we all get along very well in Atlanta, or live and let live; however, there are a few guys who should be glad they’re so much bigger than me. There are a few who really need a good, swift kick in the butt. They tend to be the same ones who sabatoge the dancers they don’t like. Gotta watch ’em… I’ve also experienced some haters at The Castle in Greenville – former dancers… go figure.
It can be discouraging when you aren’t comfortable with your coworkers. It can get downright ugly when you have good reason to believe someone is actually undermining you on purpose. I know I’ve painted a portrait of myself as someone who is very nice (because I am), but I do not tolerate people being destructive to me in this particular manner. I’ve tolerated other forms of abuse, but I have zero patience for other dancers (or former dancers) doing or saying anything to make me look bad to patrons. Devon to Diva in about 2.3 seconds flat. Miss Thang does know how to raise an eyebrow at a bitchy strippa.
What then do you do? It’s best to first try to talk to the person/people in question, to make certain that there’s not a misunderstanding that can’t be fixed among peers. Most of the time instigators will back off really fast – people know when they’re in the wrong. If polite inquiry doesn’t help, then I start channeling Miss Jackson. I do this so rarely that it tends to accomplish what Southern Charm doesn’t. In only a few instances have I had to speak to a Booking Manager or some other figure of authority.
If you are going to dance at a club or event where there are other dancers, you simply have to accept that there will be competition. Scotty and I have a friendly competition – we stay in shape, we check in with each other, we encourage each other, I tell Scotty if a patron tells me Scotty is hot (and vice versa), and we are happy for each other when either or both do well.
Sadly, competition isn’t always friendly. Some people do not appreciate the value of collaboration. They are too selfish to see that they will do better if everyone on the team looks good. Would you go buy a car at a lot with one nice vehicle and 30 jallopies? Or would you be more likely to go shop at a place where the lot can offer you your choice of sports cars? I guess some strippers are just ignorant. Whatever.
If you find yourself confronted by a destructive dancer, former dancer, patron, staff member… It’s often best to behave better, so that their criticisms look empty. How can anyone believe an ugly-acting person when you yourself are so charming, polite, beguiling, sexy, and friendly to the people who are slandering you. In almost every case I have found that the person hating on you makes himself look way worse than anything he could do to you. In fact, I have had friends of haters come up and tip or compliment me, specifically so that I and others wouldn’t lump them in with the person causing the problem.
Where is the love? It’s in you. It’s also in the people who end up being sympathetic/empathetic to you for being the “victim” of malice. People tend to side with the person targeted, not the person who is being aggressive. You will probably not win people’s minds over by being confrontational. If someone says you’re gross, unattractive, dirty, stupid, whorish, etc., and you get mean… it will, on some level, confirm in the minds of others that you must, after all, be the brutish piece of trash they thought you were. Reasonable people generally can’t help but respond constructively to maturity and positivity.
You know who you are. Forget the haters. The ones you should be most dismissive of (in the kindest manner possible), are the former dancers who wish they were still the center of attention, but are not. These people are acting out because of jealousy. Whatever they are saying about you probably has no basis in reality. Let it go, and keep connecting with the people who do like you (see the flip-side to all this: “Here is the love!”).