Last night two female friends took me out to sample something that sets Oregon apart from 48 other states across the U.S and something that the two girls seemed very proud and eager to share with the visiting Englishman. Strippers that get all the way naked!
It made a change from the usual 'come and visit my Church' invitations I get while visiting America, and In the interest of continued good relations between our two countries I felt that to refuse such an offer would be seen as rude. So I graciously accepted the invitation to go to the Safari Lounge which apart from naked women, boasts a host of tropical fish tanks and drinks that are served on fire!
Melisa and Alison's attitude to long legged naked ladies doing gymnastically interesting things to a pole in a dimly lit room is surprisingly common here in Oregon. In fact a visit to such an establishment, of which there are many, doesn't even raise a blip on anyones shockometer here in this most liberal of States. The girls reveal to me that they often go to strip clubs for a drink with friends, many times on 'girls nights out.' (God bless these girls!)
It may surprise some people to learn that I have only ever been to a strip club on two other occasions, both of which have been with friends here in Oregon. It's not that I don't like ladies losing their clothes, it's a cultural thing. In the UK strip clubs are largely places hidden down back alleys where you may ordinarily fear for your life. They're advertised as 'Gentleman's clubs' though to go to one may be viewed as not very gentlemanly at all. I did get invited to one as part of a friends Stag night, but in the end the idea was abandoned because of the lack of interest. Instead we stayed in the pub, eventually leaving only to tape the heavily intoxicated husband-to-be to a nearby telephone kiosk.
As we arrived at the Safari Lounge we were greeted by a young lady who checked our idea and welcomed us. We then found some seats and waited for a heavily breasted waitress to come and take our order. The place was full of men and women in what looked like equal number to us. The DJ gave an announcement about 'Danny' who evidently had just returned from Iraq (pronounced iRack if you're an American). The announcement gave up the location of 'Danny's' crowd who noisily raised their glasses in acknowledgment. On a nearby table a group of girls appeared to be having some kind of drinking race much to their amusement, and on three stages girls were getting slowly naked in time with the music. As seedy as that might sound, it was anything but. It felt just like any other bar I've visited.
My friends began to chat, talking about Piers Brosnan in some movie and Kate Winslet from another. I tried to be cool, but for an Englishman who isn't used to strip joints, the nearby nakedness was somewhat distracting. However, in that typically English manner, I didn't want to be rude so I paid attention to the conversation stopping only to take the coolest of glances at the dancers, after all it would be rude to stare would it not?
As the girls chatted one stripper caught my eye, or maybe I caught hers, I'm not quite sure. She gave me a magazine cover smile between head sways as she lashed the stage with her long hair on her hands and knees in the kind of way you'd imagine only a stripper would do. Then she looked back at me and did a move that got her to her feet in a style that wouldn't have looked out of place in something like The Matrix. A few more slinky moves and she was topless then moments later she was wearing nothing but the kind of shoes you never see in anything other than a DVD you'd insist was planted on you as part of an elaborate prank.
Melisa and Alison paid little attention to the stripper, their discussion of which I was trying to seem involved in, was of more interest to them. Planning New Years Eve, which it seems will involve at least one strip club among a few other bars. They would take brief looks at the strippers and often engage them after a dance to ask them where they got an item of recently removed clothing.
I glanced back at the girl on the stage next to me and she was spiraling down the pole at a dizzying speed, I sat back not to leer at her naked body, but in amazement as to how the heck she was able to do that. Then, as she continued to dance, I had an enormous amount of respect not only for the fact she was able to do all these amazing gymnastic maneuvers, but the fact she was able to do them in the most impractical shoes known to man. I commented to my friends that I wouldn't be able to do that, and without hesitation they assured me that no one would want to pay money to see me cavort naked on a stage in shoes like that either.