Impact Features speaks to lap dancer Danni from the Channel 4 documentary ‘Strippers’ revealing the realities of stripping, feminism and her future aspirations.
Danni began dancing in strip clubs at age 21 whilst studying at Loughborough University. It is a job that has helped to fund an undergraduate degree and paid for her masters degree outright. It has also helped to pay for her own art studio in Islington. In an interview with IMPACT, she revealed what it’s really like taking off her clothes for strangers, how the job is subsidising her career as an artist and her recent input on ‘Strippers’.
HOW DID YOU START OUT AS A STRIPPER?
I’ve been a lap dancer on and off for quite some time. I started when I was doing my undergraduate degree at Loughborough. I was on a night out, and I already knew how to pole dance. Someone approached me at the club I was at and said I was really good at it, and I thought I’d try it to earn some extra pennies. They told me to go and audition, so I did and they told me I could come back.
I didn’t know what to expect, especially when I found out that we had to lap dance for the money. You see on the TV people throwing money at you while dancing round a pole, but that’s not the case – you make your money lap dancing.
WERE YOU OPEN ABOUT THE NATURE OF YOUR WORK?
Yes, I’m a pretty straightforward person. I told my mum that I was doing my audition and my dad as well. They said ‘as long as you’re safe and don’t put yourself in danger’. They’ve seen the opportunities it’s given me, so they can’t really complain – it’s paid for my masters at Coventry and got me through university without having to really struggle.
WHAT IS THE MONEY YOU EARN GOING TOWARDS?
I’m a practicing artist at the moment. I’m getting my work in as many exhibitions as possible to make a name for myself as an artist. At some point, I would like to teach at university level. My artwork ties in nicely with the job that I do – stripping is a catalyst for a lot of my artwork because it’s about feminism. For me it’s quite an interesting subject. There are a lot of different issues that being a dancer brings up, and are quite interesting to study within art.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFICULTIES OF BEING A LAP DANCER? DO YOU FIND THAT CUSTOMERS CAN OVERSTEP BOUNDARIES?
The clubs I work in are pretty good. They have to have cameras in every single booth. Management watches you, and security are around to keep an eye on you. I’m actually in a pretty safe environment, more so than if I was in a normal club. Realistically, nothing really happens – the customers can’t touch us and we can’t touch them. It’s as simple as that.
ARE RELATIONSHIPS DIFFICULT FOR YOU?
Not really. My boyfriend accepts what I do, and knows that I’ve got higher goals. I’m pretty lucky in that respect though – my ex-boyfriend was pretty jealous. At first it was a novelty for him, but after a while when we got into a more serious relationship he didn’t like it and he tried to make me stop. I think it depends on the guy and their level of insecurity to be honest.
DO YOU FIND STRIPPING EMPOWERING?
Yes, because I’ve used it in a positive way and it has allowed me to continue my education. I find that I get more enjoyment out of being a self-employed dancer. I work where and when I want and I don’t answer to anyone. If a customer is overly rude to me, I don’t have to put up with it and they can be removed by the door staff. It’s allowed me to become assertive and to realise that if you want something then you have to work for it.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE NO MORE PAGE 3 CAMPAIGN? IT’S QUITE A BIG TOPIC ON CAMPUS RIGHT NOW.
I think it’s a consenting situation. If girls choose to go topless on a newspaper and they feel that it’s getting them somewhere, then I don’t see an issue there. I take my clothes off to total strangers and I dance for a higher purpose – I don’t feel any immorality about that at all.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE THAT YOU WANTED TO BE INVOLVED WITH THE CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARY ‘STRIPPERS’?
The other girl who was in the same episode as me said to the people from Channel 4: “Us girls just like to party and drink and I’m happy going home with £20”. I was absolutely shocked. It portrayed strippers as bad human beings who like to get shit faced and do crack. Being in the media, [CHANNEL 4] have a responsibility to be impartial and not just portray the negative sides of dancing, so I basically confronted them and said: “I hope you’re not using her as a prime example. We don’t all like to party and lots of girls use the job to help them work towards a better future”. I told them why I dance and what my reasons are, and they asked if I could get involved.
IS THERE ANYTHING PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE INDUSTRY?
I find that most people just want to know what I earn, if I do extras and if we all take drugs. I just want to put forward that my personal experience is that it’s not seedy – it’s a form of entertainment. It’s also what you make it to be and you can use it to support your future goals.
Image credit: Sandra Lucario