I have another story from my past to share with you all.
I was reminded of this tale at the weekend.
Several of my friends have been in long term relationships for a while now. As our group makes the journey further into adulthood (well…most of us anyways!) more and more of them are taking the plunge and entering into holy matrimony. As per tradition, this involves a Stag Do (some of you may call it a Bachelor Party). I have 4 lined up for the next 4 months. The first of these was this weekend.
The night was pretty routine. After hitting up a few bars, necking several drinks and frequenting a night club, our group all decided that the most appropriate way to end the evening was to visit a strip club.
Everyone, that is, except my friend Dean and I.
As our group drunkenly congregated towards the exit of the club, Dean and I made the choice to stay out and enjoy another drink or two. The strip club was not an option for us.
You see, we’d had a bad experience in the past…
The Strip Club:
Last Summer, R, C, Dean and I all went for a summer getaway to Portugal.
The plan was simple: one week of doing nothing bar sitting in the sun, swimming in the sea/pool, catching a tan, eating nice food and enjoying an array of insanely strong/elaborately decorated cocktails.
The reality was one week of binge drinking, monster hangovers, clumsy attempts at seduction, sunburn and awful food.
After a couple of days in Portugal I was bright red from sunburn, dangerously over budget from visiting more clubs and bars than I can remember and tired…really tired (coming home at 6am every night will do that to you). Also my insides were totally devastated from the effects of a combination of this massive drunken bender and meal after meal of undercooked meat.
I needed a rest. Badly. Dean did too.
We agreed to explore the quieter regions of the city, find somewhere decent to eat before getting back to the hotel at a decent hour.
After dinner we decided to take a stroll through the town, across the beach and back to our hotel.
R and C were both in relationships at the time (I sat ‘at the time’, R still is and C is in a different one). The prospect of being allowed to stay out late and drink to excess without fear of reprisal was very much a novelty to them and both were determined to make the most of this.
They were both trying to convince us to head to a bar or club. There was even talk of Gentlemen’s Club being nearby and that we should try to locate it.
I was ignoring their pleas and was texting away in order to avoid being drawn into this debate. I had fallen about 20 feet behind them all at this stage.
Before I could really process what was going on C and R were heading into this large building on the corner of a eerily quiet street. Dean was sheepishly heading in behind them too.
It wasn’t until I walked past a man wearing a sandwich board that simply read ‘strippers inside’ that I knew I was heading into trouble.
Don’t think the sign was seedy enough
I have a confession to make. I had never been to a strip club before. It’s not that I am a prude or sheltered or anything like that. It’s just that the thought always seemed a bit too sleazy and desperate for my liking. Besides, since being ‘of age’ I had almost always been in a relationship with a girl who was the jealous type. Visiting a strip club just did not seem worth the hassle.
My worst fears were confirmed the instant I stepped into the place.
With the exception of a group of 4 large, exotic looking, muscled men sitting by the DJ booth there was no one else inside.
Entrance to the venue allowed us 1 free drink each so we headed to the bar. Also at the bar were the strippers. Before I could say the 4 of us were set up by roughly 20 scantily clad Eastern European women. All of which were vying for our attention in the hope that we would part with a minimum of 30 Euros for a few minutes of their time.
Once they realised that I had no money (I purposely left my wallet at home in order to have an excuse not to go to a club) I was more or less left alone. Every so often a girl would come over and talk to me. Rather than be a tease though I would let them know that I could not afford their services and they would duly leave.
I pulled up at one of the available seats next to a stage/runway and continued texting. Dean sat next to me and spent his time finding his beer bottle fascinating whilst calmly telling any stripper that dare approach him that he was not in the mood for a dance tonight.
R and C were revelling in the attention though and disappeared almost immediately to the ‘private dance’ area to part with their hard earned cash.
All I got for my troubles was a telling off from security personnel for having my phone out.
Without my phone I stared into space and wished away the minutes until C and R would return and we could get the hell out of this place. I also looked over enviously at the group of large guys. For some reason they were not getting hassled by the strippers like Dean and I were.
My thoughts were interrupted by the endless loop of generic dance music coming to a close and a loud voice booming over the PA system.
“IT’S TIME FOR SOME STAGE DANCING!…”
I have seen strip clubs on TV and I knew what was coming next. A lady would come out, shake her money maker a bit and then expect the crowd to toss notes her way. I feared an awkward encounter stemming from my lack of money was on the horizon.
“…now welcome to the stage…the sultry ,the sexy…PEDRO!”
All of a sudden, my brain clicked back into life and I turned to Dean .
“Ummm…did he just say Pedro?!”
Dean just stared blankly at me. Clearly he had been as lost in thought as I was. He actually looked like he was on the verge of sleep.
I then had what could only be described as a genuine moment of clarity. It suddenly became apparent. Those guys in the corner weren’t fellow patrons but they were strippers. One of which was about to perform to the crowd. A crowd consisting solely of me and Dean!
I thought about leaving but before I could the opening bars of ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias came over the PA system and Pedro was already on stage dressed as Zoro. He was looking directly at me.
I wanted to leave. I was tired, irritable and was ready to go home. I was not in the mood for seeing the naked body of a man who was built like an Adonis. At best, it would inevitably invoke feelings of insecurity about my own body in comparison. Dean felt the same.
However, I then had a thought.
I imagine that when he entered the stripping profession, Pedro probably had visions akin to that of The Full Monty or Magic Mike or something, where he is performing his craft to a crowd of screaming woman who can barely keep their burning loins under control, such is the raw sex appeal of his stripping. He probably spent years honing his craft; sculpting his body, perfecting his dance moves, growing his hair (on his head) and devising a routine to make the crowds swoon.
Instead, Pedro was performing in front of 2 half asleep English guys who were less than enthused by his presence. This must be pretty demoralising for the lad. We figured that rather than trample on his dreams, we would indulge him and let him do his thing.
So Dean and I sat through Pedro’s entire dance.
Credit to the guy, he was a true professional and performed like he was dancing in front of thousands at the Stripper Olympics (if such a thing exists). However I must say that it was one of the most uncomfortable moments of my life. Please believe me when I tell you that I could feel his eyes burning into my soul as he maintained eye contact with me whilst his junk swung a mere 5 feet from my face.
Suffice to say that I was glad when the song ended and Pedro picked up his clothes up off the floor and departed from the stage. Apparently this is frowned upon in Strip Clubs.
As we are so very, very English (and polite almost to a fault) we instantly broke into a tepid applause. We then found ourselves grouping together what little change we had in order to provide Pedro with a tip. At least he seemed grateful.
We then upped and left.
Walking home Dean and I made a pact to never speak of this to anyone and to try and avoid strip clubs for a while.
This blog post aside, we have remained true to our word ever since.
However, whenever I hear ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias I can tell you that Pedro is not too far from my thoughts.