Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Days In Da Club

During my shifts at work, business has been painfully slow. Summer is a slow season for us anyway. This summer, the economic climate has brought a harsh drought to the money of the club. (I learned the phrase "make it rain" recently from Little E. He was with me somewhere when I pulled out my stack of dollar bills to pay my bill in singles. [Hey, at least I wasn't writing a check.] Little E asked why I carry around large amounts of dollar bills and I told him because I am a server, I make most of my money I take home in dollar bill tips. He said "you always look like you're getting ready to make it rain." I asked him what "make it rain" means and from behind us in line my husband laughed and said "You don't know what 'make it rain' means? Remind us where you work again." So I guess I have seen it many a time, but never knew it was called that.) Anyway, there hasn't been much rain in the club lately. Everyone gets irritable. I usually try to keep good spirits and do my job well, even when I am making very little money to do it.

The dancers have been getting a bit mouthy with the customers for not tipping and I have been becoming increasingly uncomfortable about it. I understand their frustration. They PAY to work there. Not only do they not make an hourly wage, they pay a fee everyday to be able to come into work. So they start out their day in the hole and it would be infuriating to go on stage after stage to dance and not have anyone coming up and tipping them. But they are not allowed to solicit tips. They definitely are not allowed to DEMAND tips, which is what one woman has been doing.

Last Wednesday (my day shift), a regular customer said "M has been getting really bad and driving away customers." I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do about it. There is usually no manager there during the day. I'm just a bartender. They are independent contractors. I'm not their boss. But I do represent the club and it is important to me that we make our customers comfortable. So I had been pondering it and decided to talk to her yesterday morning.

I told M that I know it is upsetting when people don't tip, but I would hope she would not try to embarrass them or make them feel uncomfortable. That didn't go well since she pointed out that it makes her uncomfortable and embarrassed to have to dance naked for free. I pointed out sometimes customers don't tip her if they are waiting for another dancer to go spend money on. (I had noticed that last week, her calling a customer a cheap ass because he wasn't coming up to her stage and he was waiting for another dancer to come out, whom he spent $100 on.) She countered that even if a customer is waiting for another dancer, he should show her respect while he is waiting.

These are good points, but customers are not obligated to tip. I also asked her to consider that sometimes, customers spend money on dancers, but don't tip the bartender and sometimes it works the other way. Sometimes I am making money off of people even if the dancers are not. So could she please consider that before harassing them?

It turned out that was exactly the situation yesterday. The first part of the day, several customers got drinks from me without tipping, but were tipping dancers on stage and getting private dances. My tip jar sat completely empty while the dancers made some good money. In the afternoon, a group of three guys came in and tipped me $5 for their first round of drinks. Whoo hoo! Not spectacular, but better than the $0 I had gotten from most of the other customers. They sat and talked while M went on stage. Another round, another $5 tip. M yelled "I'm not getting naked for free here!" Grrr. Whatever. Fine, I understand her not wanting to get naked. She seemed to think that the guys were watching TV and sat on the couch onstage saying "OK, well, I can watch TV too." They looked a little confused. M asked, "Are you so cheap you can't even give me a dollar?" A couple of them reluctantly approached the stage. I walked by and told her to cut it out and went to the table and they ordered another round and gave me another $5 tip. M yelled to the table, "You know those beers are cheaper somewhere else." The next time she got on stage, they got up and left.

We had the same argument we had earlier and she really feels she is right in acting this way. I feel it makes the club look bad. When a manager came for the evening shift, I told him about it and he said he and the house mom would talk to her about it. Great. Now I am going to be considered the tattletale. Once, I told the (same)house mom when I saw a dancer giving a blow job in the couch dance area and was chastised as being the tattletale for years.

On a more humorous, weirdo factor note, the other day a guy came in with a flier rolled up and I could see the top said "wanted". He didn't want to buy a drink, but I told him when there is no cover charge, he has to buy a drink and he reluctantly ordered a cranberry juice. As dancers approached his table, he kept showing them the flier. It turns out he was hoping he could post it in the stripper dressing room. It said "Wanted. Roommate."


Middle Aged Woman Blogging said...

This is hysterical and sad. How'd ya like to be a stripper in Detroit right now? I don't think anyone is tipping there either. You have a very interesting job and lends itself to great stories for us. Truly, you should write a book. Stripping during the Recession!

Hey, how much is he willing to pay for that roommate?

Megan said...

I always crack up reading your posts. You certainly have an interesting job. I imagine the economic pinch is hitting Vegas clubs too -

Jennifer said...

I think the stripper is in the wrong. It sucks not to make tips but that's part of having a job that doesn't have an hourly wage-you have both the ability to make a lot of money or very little.

nick said...

The "talent' always overestimates their value, screw her.

Also, if a dancer is crossing line between legitimate work and prostitution on the job it is your responsibility to report it (especially if it so blatant) as crap like that is exactly what cost clubs licenses and hard working people their jobs.

I do have to admit though, it's kinda messed up that they get 0 pay from the club and have to "rent" their "chairs" like in a salon. Here in DC it is the complete opposite. Not only are the dancers employees who make hourly wages, it is patently illegal for a club to demand/garnish/take under the table any of their tips (some of them do it anyway).

Not that I know first hand or anything though as I've never personally been inside one these dens of sin, I've just heard from others...