Helen: The Mother
When my daughter Olivia voiced her interest in becoming a dancer, my immediate reaction was to think, “Okay, this is something she wants to do, so let’s look into it.” I didn’t have an overall negative feeling about the suggestion. Olivia was eighteen years of age at the time and exploring different opportunities out in the world. My daughter wanted to try something new, and I was adamant about not shutting her down. My objective was to find out what it was all about and seek out some information first before making a judgment. I went so far as to help Olivia look into different clubs. I decided to try to steer her toward what I could see were the best on offer.
I could see there were clubs that presented themselves as being very upmarket, so I took the risk and allowed Olivia to go ahead and try it out. I made sure she found out about the club’s security measures, and once we had all the information I was confident she would be working in a safe environment.
I think the reason I wasn’t disturbed by the undressing element of Olivia’s job was because having looked at other societies around the world I could see that exotic dance was indeed a matter of culture. It’s purely about dress. It’s fabric, that’s all. In some countries an exotic entertainer’s clothes don’t come off. In ours, they do.
In my opinion dancing was a much better option for Olivia than for her to go to a normal nightclub. She had tried that previously and it had been quite a scary experience. At her work she would be free to flirt, which is something eighteen-year-old girls often want to do, and there were security guards around watching over her at all times. This part of their interaction always unfolded out on the main floor where Olivia was clothed, so the undressing part was a secondary factor. Olivia could easily go to a regular nightclub, hook up with a guy and go home with him. The fact that she would be taking her clothes off was her choice.
I wanted her to feel she could come to me if things did go wrong, and Olivia was happy to talk about her experiences with me. She mentioned she was feeling very connected to the other dancers because the environment in which they worked was so raw. It was comforting to learn of the supportive environment that Olivia was in at the club.
Security watched over the dancers as they worked, and ensured each girl made it safely into a taxi at the end of the night. The management was very strict about maintaining a drug-free environment, and the dancers’ alcohol intake was restricted.
Olivia was connecting with her customers and enjoying having intelligent conversations, and this insight gave me a totally different impression of the men who were going to the club. They weren’t necessarily going there just to gawk at naked girls, and it seemed that my daughter was attracting clients who were engaged by her intellect and mature manner. They were really appreciating those parts of her, which was in turn building her confidence in herself and her ability to communicate with them. A lot of these men were much older, and at eighteen years of age to be able to converse with them was going to benefit her later in life.
From what I was learning from Olivia, there were two different ways to work in that environment. Some girls just flaunted their bodies and worked very hard physically. Olivia chose to work in a smarter way, which meant she spent most of the evening doing little more than talking to the men while they paid her to remain clothed and keep them company. I thought that was a very clever angle, because she worked smarter, not harder.
The undressing element of the job was a very confidence-building experience for my daughter. You have to have guts to be able to do that for anyone in life, and I could see it was a very empowering feeling for her. It was an unusual environment to be learning all of these things, but the positives certainly outweighed the negatives.
If another parent came to me having found out their daughter wanted to dance, or was already dancing, I suppose my best advice would be to keep the lines of communication open, as I did. I also felt it was very important to stand by Olivia because other members of the family strongly disapproved of her choice. This meant I was the only one supporting her.
If your daughter is over eighteen, she is going to do what she wants to do. I certainly did! It is a matter of making what they want to do as comfortable and safe as possible. Make sure they seek out a reputable club. I would not have been as satisfied with other clubs of lesser quality, so it was good that Olivia chose the one she did.
I would advise that girls go into dancing with a short-term focus to earn some good quick money, but to also have a backup plan. I think Olivia stayed in the job for too long, and grew to resent it. The job did begin to grind her down emotionally after the first year, and she did not enjoy it as much as she once had. It would have been better if she had just avoided that pain by moving on to something else.
Paid To Dance: Asha’s Story Part Two is AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER in paperback and Kindle eBook for release WORLDWIDE on July 20th, 2018.