Anxious and excited at the same time, I was led into a small, red lit room, draped in black curtains with two chairs positioned at either end. Standing ready and waiting was Rosana, facing away from me, dressed in nothing but a wig, black underwear and terrifyingly tall heels.
Still facing away from me, she started speaking, “My Name is Rosana. My Sister’s name is Amy. When I was younger I wanted to be just like my sister, I wanted to do everything she did. This is the lapdance my sister taught me”
She pressed play on the music and turned to me, “Open your legs. Put your hands by your side. No touching”
I’d never had a lap dance before and I didn’t know what to expect. I’d spoken to people about having one but I couldn’t shift the stereotypical image of a seedy back room, with a 70’s beaded curtain and a powerhouse of a man standing outside, just in case her guest didn’t do as he was told.
I did as I was told. I let my hands fall to my side and opened my legs, I was rigid with nerves, I had to stop myself from childish giggling and remind myself, she wants me to see this.
So seductively she moved her hips as she traced lines on her body with her fingertips. She caressed her breasts, her nipples moving further and further downwards. She dropped to the floor and lay back, legs apart, pleasuring herself with her eyes closed. I didn’t know where to look, I felt intrusive.
As the performance went on, I stopped feeling awkward, I started to enjoy watching another woman love herself and I had a sudden rush of envy, for I could never get up and perform the act Rosana just performed for me. To reveal so much of yourself to a person, to a stranger even, and to do it with so much confidence.
The dancing stopped and I questioned whether I should clap. Rosana joined me on the other chair, sitting opposite from me just less than a metre away. We looked at each other as she ran her hand up one side of her body, across her chest and down her other arm. My glance flitted from her eyes, to her body, to the path her hand was creating. I wanted to tell her how strong and how brave she was but I just watched and tried to absorb some of her courage.
Just as I thought the performance was over, I was told to get up from my seat and was led behind a black curtain, handed an iPhone and headphones and told to be as silent as I could whilst peeking through tiny hole in the curtain.
Suddenly I was watching the lap dance I had just received being performed on someone else. I was listening to a recording of Rosana’s sister Amy, talking about how she got into lap dancing, how her sister developed a love for it and what it’s like to be a woman in this industry. At first, I thought it was just an interesting story about how it came to be, but without warning, her voice became tearful and started to crack. I felt my eyes prick and start to well up too. She started speaking about how hard it is to be a woman and all the struggles we have to face that men don’t. We are persecuted for loving ourselves and we are judged for how we convey that. She talked about the daily battles women have to face in the fight for equality and in that moment I felt so proud to be a woman.
As I continued to watch the performance through a tiny tip in the curtain, I was fascinated by the fact that someone had also been peaking on me as I received my lap dance. Her sister’s words resonated with me and left me feeling more empowered than when I’d gone in.
As the recording came to a tearful end, I was led away, remaining silent and pensive. I never thought I’d cry after my first lap dance but I know I will never forget it.