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"La Bare: My First Time at a Male Strip Club" by Jordan McCray

We walked inside the dimly lit club and took in the mixed aroma of sweat, perfume, and alcohol. Half-naked men strutted around the floor serving drinks in their briefs while the older women ogled them from their tables.

It was a Sunday evening at La Bare. Not the ordinary—day of Sabbath, recover from a night out, maybe start the homework—type of Sunday. But the eve of New Year’s Eve type of Sunday where against your better judgment you make plans to start celebrating the New Year a bit sooner than the rest of the world. Our wide eyes filled with eagerness as we explored our first male strip club. We sat at a table and signaled the waiter. Two rounds of shots.

“Ace Boogie” took the stage and the surrounding women gathered towards the front, waving their dollar bills and roaring with anticipation. Usher crooned throughout the club as Ace grinded his way into everyone’s fantasies. He ripped off his Velcro-lined shirt, revealing his oily chest and within moments, he was down to his banana hammock. It felt like a movie. For each dollar he received, each woman received a special thank you in the form of a private-yet very public-dance.

Without a second thought, we sent our brave friend Ashley* up to the stage with a 10 dollar bill. He pulled her up on stage and gyrated in her face as if he were fulfilling a deeply suppressed fantasy. We reveled in the discomfort—the ridiculousness—of it all as Ashley sat like a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode with laughter.

Jan* spotted eye candy across the room and I turned to see for myself. His stature stood tall and muscular but his face—there was something strangely familiar about that face. It was an ex. The one who was formerly labeled as “Piece of Shit” in my contacts list [because yes I took the time to hate-label boys]. I sunk down in my seat, praying to God that I could disappear.

My ex was working at a strip club and despite my fail-proof method to avoid being seen, he approached our table.

“I thought that was you!” He said as he rested a hand on my shoulder.

I looked up at him, wincing as I forced a smile, “Heyyyyyyyyy…..!”

10 minutes passed and he remained at our table, updating me on his life—unprompted. My buzz was fading and the club grew increasingly less amusing. I headed for the bar but he redirected me to a worn, empty chair and sat me down. I motioned towards another chair, thinking he wanted to sit and talk privately. He shook his head, looked down at me with a familiar cocksureness, and began to roll his hips. I laughed half-heartedly, hoping it was all a joke. But what began as an unprompted dance graduated to a lap-dance, and there I sat glancing around the room—wishing I was anywhere but in that chair. He grabbed my hands and ran them down his sculpted chest as he continued updating me on his life.

“So I’m proposing to my girlfriend in a few weeks,” he mentioned casually.

I laughed again, “Oh. How fun…” He stopped a co-worker in his footsteps to grab a test-tube shot from his tray. He tucked it in his waistband and looked at me expectantly while pointing down at his nether regions. I looked down at the shot, then back at him, eyebrows raised.

Absolutely not.

He shrugged and took the shot himself, “I bought the ring yesterday. I think she’ll love it.” I smiled and I nodded, awaiting the end of his performance.

Shortly after I rejoined my friends, we were approached by the familiar face again: this time asking for compensation.

For me, the allure of a strip club arose from a sense of fantasy, anonymity, and amusement. But it’s a business. And sinking into the abyss of loud music and sexual tension can cause you to forget that at the end of the night, the lust and the desire evanesce with the darkness. The lights come on. The costumes are replaced with clothes. Reality is restored.

I woke up the next morning as I did after any other night out—blindly reaching for the bottle of water on my nightstand when I found a business card from one of the dancers instead. For a second, I wondered about my ex’s life outside the walls of La Bare and the sobering reality of both our lives set in. I wondered if either of us were any closer to being who we wanted to be. My phone buzzed and the thought vanished as quickly as it came. New Year’s Eve plans were in motion and I was ready to forget last night ever happened.



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