“We’re a bunch of feisty feminists who happen to love to take their clothes off,” said the MC from the East London Strippers Collective – a perfectly apt opening line to describe a raucous riot of a night, where talented performers were in charge of the stage and their body, the crowd was fun, young and friendly, and the vibe was more “American comedy Halloween party”, miles away from the stereotypical strip club.
As an amateur pole dancer and a lover of performances, burlesque, cheesy music and underwear, I couldn’t miss the ELSC’s show, which this time included performances falling under the umbrella of “Back To School”. The Facebook event promised prizes for the best dressed guest, live acts, glitter and more… so I dressed up accordingly, wearing my favourite tee from Never Fully Dressed’s Redchurch Street store, created in partnership with Mind.
The ELSC are a sort of trade union for strippers and lap dancers, helping performers in the UK and in East London particularly to self-organise and unite in order to empower dancers to create their own working conditions. Because of this, the show felt like a party, with friends and audiences coming in to cheer the performers for their skills and charm, rather than a sleazy affair where the dancers aren’t really enjoying themselves.
Hosted at Club Aquarium in Old Street, the Back To School night started with me and a friend purchasing strip dollars at the door. The first performance was an American cheerleader act, while the second was a naughty teacher with equations written under each layer… and members of the audience had to write the solution on her skin with magic markers!
Other performance included a stunning rendition of Britney’s Baby One More Time performed by the incredible Mr Glitz, dressed in drag and covered in glitter, and a striptease to Stacy’s Mum which should happen at every pole performance, tbh.
Audiences were encouraged to purchase stripper dollars upstairs to “make it rain” on the stage and on performers… something that looks easy in rap videos but that my awkward hands couldn’t seem to perform. Luckily my friend Catalina taught me how. #fail.
The night ended with my tasseled (and covered) nips winning the prize for best dressed and receiving a lap dance by ALL THE DANCERS TOGETHER which was fantastic and intimidating at the same time – and under the notes of School’s Out by my favourite singer ever, Alice Cooper, no less! The excitement was such that I ended up twerking on the stage.
In short, if you’re looking for a naughty live act that also happens to support women, the ELSC is the place for you. I will sure be back.
Pictures: Carolina Are