Why do I go to strip clubs? To be honest, and at the risk of coming off as pretentious, it’s a bit complicated.
I suppose the first and most straightforward honest answer to that is that I’m a single heterosexual man with a sex drive, I consequently enjoy seeing women naked, and strip clubs offer me a chance to do so. Ergo, I go to strip clubs to fulfill these urges. There are, of course, other ways to do this, some perhaps cheaper, or more satisfying, or perhaps more morally, socially and ethically justifiable. But I find strip clubs have an appeal that some of these lack.
A more complex answer is that I go to strip clubs to at least partly fill the void that is my completely non-existent sex life. The obvious question here is, of course, ‘why not get a girlfriend’? Unfortunately, in my case at least, that’s easier said than done. To be honest, I have self-esteem issues, and I’m rather shy and uncomfortable in social settings. While some of my closest ever friends have been women, I’m not very confident or assertive in bridging the friendship-romantic partner divide; I was actually in love with one of these women but found myself unable to express my feelings to her before she moved out of my life, something which I think is still affecting my ability to establish romantic and sexual relationships.
Outside of these friendships I find approaching women romantically or sexually difficult and embarrassing, to the point where I am on the point of entering my thirties and remain a virgin. I'm not automatically opposed to one-night stands, but I'm hardly a player and women don't seem to be that in to me. Strip clubs, then, offer an environment where this isn’t really a problem -- and where women, in fact, are approaching me, although I’m not naive enough to believe that this is for any other reason than me being a potential customer (although, while I'm hardly an Adonis, I do flatter myself that I'm not completely repulsive to these ladies, and do at least try to make an effort and be presentable for them).
Despite the above, however, I honestly wouldn’t say I was incredibly or painfully lonely, at least not to the degree that some have described on the blog; in fact, I’m naturally a quite solitary person and quite comfortable being on my own for long periods. But I still have needs. Besides the obvious lack of sex, I’m not very happy being single, and the lack of a girlfriend or partner in my life is a cause of some depression (particularly when I consider those around me and the fact that I’m getting older). I want to make a connection with someone and with a stripper I am at least able to temporarily do so, even if it is artificial and ultimately meaningless.
Furthermore, while I watch pornography to satisfy these urges more often than I go to a club -- I'm a bit of a homebug and it's cheaper and less hassle to load up a site rather than go out for the evening -- I much prefer the strip club experience over pornography. Porn is unrealistic and exaggerated, it puts you at a distance, whereas in a strip club it's all happening there, right in front of you. There's a tangibility and reality to the experience that is lacking in porn. Besides which, I often feel uncomfortable, depressed and unfulfilled after watching porn, while an evening at a strip club will, conversely, often cheer me up and boost my confidence and spirits for a while afterwards.
At the other end of the scale, prostitution does not really appeal -- in my most depressive or sexually frustrated moments I’ve considered it, but I’m concerned about issues regarding consent, exploitation, disease and legality which are conversely not part of the strip club experience, or at least not to what seems like the same degree. While it’s certainly not unproblematic, stripping and even lap-dancing seems less objectionable than prostitution; there are limits there. It might not be a complete sexual experience, but least after visiting a strip club I can look myself in the mirror afterwards, which I’m not sure I could do if I engaged the services of a prostitute.
Strip clubs offer me something of a half-way point between these; it might not be 'full' sex, but it is nevertheless a sexually-charged experience I find more-or-less satisfying. While I’m happy to just watch the main performances, I will usually get a lap-dance (sometimes more than one) if it’s offered. To be honest, I love them. I find them exhilarating; not just because of the obvious ‘tits and ass’ on offer (although I can’t honestly claim to be above those visceral pleasures), but it’s the little things I tend to enjoy and take most out of the experience; the weight of a woman sitting on my lap, her breath in my ear, the scent of her perfume in my nose or, in the case of one establishment which permitted contact between the dancer and the patron (within obvious limits), the feel of her skin under my hands.
After my first few experiences, once I’d gotten over the immediate embarrassment and awkwardness I found I enjoyed the company of the ladies; even if they were just viewing me as a customer, in the few establishments I’ve visited they have, at least for the most part, been pleasant, charming and friendly about it. I also find that strip clubs provide a ‘safe’ environment to practice my flirting techniques; I’m not very good, and after saying something I often feel embarrassed and sheepish and worry that I sound like an idiot, but I at least try not to be crude and the women at least tend to respond in good humour. I’ve never got the sense that I’ve upset or offended any of them, at least. So, another reason why I go to them; I find I enjoy the company.
All this said, I’m conscious that strip clubs are problematic. While I might enjoy the experience, I’m not proud of myself for visiting them, and afterwards tend to feel a bit guilty. I don’t go to clubs often -- a handful of times a year at most. I find I've gone years without going to a club, although since my main social circles have dissipated of late I’ve found I’ve recently started going to them more often. I’ve been doing this a few years, and even now I often have to build my courage up for even weeks at a time before I can work up the nerve to go out and I still get paranoid about bumping in to someone I know or something terrible happening that reveals my secret. Sometimes, I can’t even enter the door if there happens to be other people out on the street.
There’s a few reasons behind this; I was raised Catholic, but to be honest religion hasn’t been a bit part of my life since I was a teenager, and I find many religious teachings on sexuality absurd and outdated. I’d say it was more political; I was raised to respect women, and have studied and worked in environments which stress feminist values and women’s rights. Visiting strip clubs and getting lap-dances is, in many ways, contrary to what I have been taught about this, and I can’t help but feel that I’m doing something wrong, that I’m making these women’s lives worse and contributing to the oppression of women and such by doing so. I’m also a bit awkward and uncomfortable with my sexuality, and ‘repressed’ isn’t an entirely unfair word to describe me, which doesn’t make things easier. I can’t help but feel that I’m to a degree objectifying and judging the women involved, and then feel bad for doing so.
When I do go to a club, then, I at least try to be respectful and polite; these women might make their money taking their clothes off for men, but that’s no reason to treat them like objects or possessions. If I flirt with the ladies, I try to do so in a way that’s not offensive or crude, and I tend to let them take charge, make the first move and defer to them. I’m not great with alcohol, and I don’t drink much anyway, but I tend to strictly stick to water or soft-drinks. I make sure to strictly observe the rules and limits of the establishment and those the ladies set down on top of this. I also try to control my reactions to the women themselves; I’m pretty socially awkward anyway, and I’m self-conscious of not appearing like a creep or a lech. Nevertheless, I like to think the ladies I’ve encountered have gone away from the encounter considering me a gentleman -- or as much as is possible for me to be in an environment where a half-naked woman has her breasts right in my face, at least.