RIP to yet more strip pubs

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As a local council saves a fetish club from closure, in another part of London The Royal Standard and The Foresters Arms, two historical strip pubs, shut. RIP strip pubs ?

You might have seen in the news last month that the London Borough of Tower Hamlets has stepped in to say a gay fetish club from redevelopment, saying that it was ‘an important community asset’. 

Ironic when you consider that there was a time when gay, male, fetish activity was demonised even when among consenting adults – cast your mind back to Operation Spanner in the 1980s for instance.

What a contrast to their policy towards strip pubs. But why? This is a venue with a sexualised theme. What’s the difference?

Well one is that the stakeholders themselves, the customers, wrote in in support of the bar concerned. Strip pub customers don’t tend to want to out themselves and nor do strippers. 

But let’s hope that local authorities modernise their attitude to striptease, just as Tower Hamlets council has done to the fetish scene.

Strip pubs play a unique role and serve a diverse community. They are so under threat. June 2019 saw two old-school strip pubs close which was sad and not just because it effectively spelled redundancy.

The Foresters Arms, Southend, on her last morning

Sure, people don’t go to pubs as much in general any more, and running a successful striptease venue these days must take ingenuity given local government restrictions.

Strip pubs work

But pubs are such a good way to deliver striptease and the vibe is so different than in a strip club. If I had money to invest, I would take the format and open up a strip pub wherever I could… (which would be limited given the licensing restrictions our misguided local authorities impose…<Sigh>…a topic for another day).

I started my dancing career in strip pubs, back when when I was a terrified but compelled newbie, sweating in my badly-applied fake tan on the train, sneaking dutch-courage whisky sips to even get there.

And what I found at the pub was a little coterie of regulars who were generally friendly, who were mostly rooting for the strippers in their own way. I still see some of those customers today, 8 years later.

Something for everyone

With a strip pub you have stage shows for which the girls collect a pound in a jar (also known as a jug collection). These performances allow the amazing pole dancers to shine, and every dancer to express her individuality. It also provides something for everyone: not every customer wants a lap dance or a VIP but still gets to see some nakedness by putting a pound in the pot for each show. So you’ve got all kinds of spenders covered. Plus they don’t have expensive entrance fees and drinks are reasonably priced.

And since it is a pub, customers can just pop in for an hour, in a low-key way. They aren’t as defensive or drunk as they might be by the time they get to a late-night strip club.

And there are generally less girls on a shift, and lower house fees, than in a strip club, so the girls aren’t as desperate about recouping their money and less  likely to forget their customer service skills.

The Royal Standard, London, before opening time

All in all it’s a less pressured environment.

That’s not to say that the welfare of the strippers is always considered, but that’s an industry-wide issue. And as it goes, these two venues – The Foresters in Southend and The Royal Standard in London – most recently were said to have some of the better house mums in the industry.

A tradition worth saving

So many strip clubs have closed over the last 5 years – The Robert Peel in Kingston, The Victoria in Hayes, The White Horse in Shoreditch, The Flying Scotsman in Kings Cross – and  a piece of British history has gone with them.

As have many memories of funny stripper mishaps, the community of regulars, endless banter between customers, dancers and bar staff, and the camaraderie that goes with getting naked with the same bunch of women on a regular basis.

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Hello sexy, I’m Helena and the Fabulous Miss Sassy is letting me borrow her space for a minute to get a few things off my 34 B chest. Stripper squeezes to you X 

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