Dirty Dancing: An Ethnography of Lap Dancing, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Dirty Dancing

An Ethnography of Lap Dancing, 1st Edition

By Rachela Colosi


194 pages

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pub: 2012-03-20
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Based on ethnographic research conducted in 'Starlets', a lap-dancing club in the North of England, this book delves into what is often seen as the 'deviant', and 'stigmatized' world of lap-dancing. As well as the relationships between dancers, the author offers a unique insider's account of lap-dancing club culture, having worked as a lap-dancer both prior to, and during, the study. The book tells a fascinating tale of the author's experiences working as a lap dancer and the insights this has provided. This book projects a textured picture of working, socializing and living as a lap-dancer by following the dancer from the beginning of her career, to her eventual exit; providing a fluid and comprehensive examination of the occupation of lap-dancing. As well as building on the popular themes of 'dancer motivation', 'dancer exploitation/empowerment' and risk already embedded in existing literature, this book also offers completely new insight into this industry by drawing attention to the occupational subculture of which lap-dancers at 'Starlets' were found to be a part. This book is recommended for anyone studying or researching in this field.


'This is an important study of the occupational culture of lap-dancing. We learn how dancers do their job, manage their identity and membership of a community, their motivations for 'stripping' overtime, and how women manage the 'players' of the lap-dancing world. Dirty Dancing provides a truly authentic, detailed and original account by a 'dance-ethnographer' of how the lap-dancing industry sits within the British night time economy.' – Dr Teela Sanders, University of Leeds

'This book, which presents one of the first accounts of lap-dancing within the United Kingdom, proved to be very interesting. Because the vast majority of studies related to stripping and strippers are confined to the United States, this work offers invaluable insights for both scholars of deviance and comparative criminal justice alike. Colosi’s examination of the lap-dancing subculture proves to be unique and offers an in-depth, insider’s perspective of adult entertainment. In spite of the fact that Colosi was employed as a dancer during the course of her study, she presents her findings in an objective and unbiased manner. Her work is also comprehensive in that it examines lap-dancing from the perspectives of managers, customers, and of course, the dancers themselves. It is likely that this book will find a strong audience within the disciplines of sociology, human sexuality, and criminal justice and may very well be regarded as a classic in the years to come. For these reasons, I strongly recommend Dirty Dancing.' – Robert M. Worley, Texas A&M University Central Texas

Table of Contents

Part I: Introducing the Ethnography: Working and Researching in a 'deviant' Occupation 1. My Story 2. Research Motivation, Significance and Approach 3. The Dancing-ethnographer 4. Conceptualizing Lap-dancing Part II: Lap-dancing and the Night-time Economy 5. Commercializing Lap-dancing 6. Legislating on and Regulating Lap-dancing Part III: Rules, Contracts and Players 7. Rules, Rotas and Contracts 8. Dancers' Earnings 9. The Lap-dance 10. The Sit-down 11. The Stage Show 12. Starlets' Main Players Part IV: Introducing Starlets: a Lap-dancing Club Setting 13. The Heart of the Action: Starlets 14. The Changing Room 15. The Managers' Office 16. The Main Floor 17. The Main Stage 18. Dance Reception 19. Conclusion Part V: Karen's Story, Part 1 20. Starting Out 21. Becoming a Dancer 22. Entry Routes 23. The Complexity of Dancer Motivation 24. Getting in: the Audition Part VI: Karen's Story, Part 2 25. Working at Starlets 26. Learning to Lap-dance: an Apprenticeship 27. The Apprenticeship 28. New and Under Scrutiny 29. Forming Relationships with other Dancers 30. Making Adjustments 31. The Tacit Rules 32. Developing Dancing Skills Part VII: Experiencing Lap-dancing 33. The Cynical Performance 34. Social and Emotional Rituals 35. The Experience of Stigma 36. Feeling the Strain of Lap-dancing Part VIII: Being Established 37. Old-school Privileges 38. Maintenance of the Tacit Rules 39. Re-establishing Status 40. The meaning of Status Part IX: Karen's Story, Part 3 41. Leaving Starlets 42. Saying Goodbye 43. Exit Routes 44. Dismissal 45. Returning to Starlets Part X: Lap-dancing - Complex and Contradictory 46. Power and Resistance 47. Worker Exploitation 48. Dancer Morality 49. The Future? What future? 50. Epilogue: the Last Dance …

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Ethnography

Ethnography is a celebrated, if contested, research methodology that offers unprecedented access to people's intimate lives, their often hidden social worlds and the meanings they attach to these.  The intensity of ethnographic fieldwork often makes considerable personal and emotional demands on the researcher, while the final product is a vivid human document with personal resonance impossible to recreate by the application of any other social science methodology.  This series aims to highlight the best, most innovative ethnographic work available from both new and established scholars.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General