When I did the first EXOTIC DANCER Directory almost 30 years ago—before there was internet and cell phones, and, maybe, even indoor plumbing—there was a section for each club’s listing that told the types of dancing their club offered.
For those of you too young to remember, the EXOTIC DANCER Directory was a thick, printed annual guide that listed all the strip clubs in the country, city by city and state by state. This was years before the Annual Gentlemen’s Club EXPO or the ED Club Bulletin. Owners or managers would fill out a form giving information on their club and then mail—yes, without email everyone had to use stamps and envelopes back then—the form back to us at ED Publications.
Anyway, one section on the form asked about the types of dancing their entertainers provided. We gave them options and those were: stage, lap, couch and tabletop. That’s right, tabletop.
Stage was obvious (not sure why we even included that since every strip club had some type of stage); lap was also obvious; but couch might seem a little confusing. A quarter century ago few clubs had VIP rooms or champagne rooms so for a more intimate dance the customer moved from a tableside chair to a couch if the club had one.
And that leaves tabletop.
Believe it or not, at many clubs back then the entertainers danced on top of the small round cocktail tables. It certainly gave customers an up-close look at the entertainers but it also led to a lot of spilled drinks and overturned tables. I remember many a night at the rough-and-tumble strip clubs that dotted Harry Hines Boulevard in Dallas watching dancers try to dance seductively and grab dollar tips while balancing on a less than steady cocktail table.
Tabletop dancing soon went by the wayside. I’m sure the liability factor of injuries to both dancers and customers alike played a big role. Or perhaps when club owners started utilizing VIP rooms and champagne rooms and saw those attractive profits, it made more sense not to let customers get such easy access to entertainers for a mere dollar tip.
Eventually the club form we sent out stopped listing tabletop dancing but now included VIP room and champagne rooms. Those new forms also included things like valet parking and fine dining, which no one even dreamed would exist at strip clubs 30 years ago.
I kind of miss tabletop dancing for the same reason NASCAR fans go to races. Race fans go to see the professionalism of the drivers going round and round that track. But they also go hoping to see a crash or two. Watching those dancers teetering on tiny tables, I appreciated their beauty and professionalism. But I have to admit, I was always hoping for at least one spill..