The Prices You Have To Pay To Be An Exotic Dancer

If you’re going to work in a bigger/more popular state such as Nevada or New York, you will have to spend money before you ever make any. I already mentioned in my Strip Club Auditions Pt. 2 post how you need to purchase a business license and a sheriff’s card to work anywhere in Las Vegas. Depending on the club you choose, you may also need to get a TAM (alcohol awareness) card and/or a SCOPE record.

If you plan to specifically work in Las Vegas, before you even start dancing/earning money you will need:

  • $200 – Business license (you must renew this every year, too)
  • $44 – Sheriff’s Card
  • $35 – TAM card
  • $10 – SCOPE Record

I looked up the price for a business license in New York and it’s around the same as Las Vegas (okay, it’s actually cheaper and I’m jealous but that’s besides the point). I know you need one to dance there and in Hawaii but, I don’t know every single requirement for every single state except for the two I’ve actually worked in (Minnesota and Nevada). The rules not only vary by state but they vary by city/county, too. Every club is different.

In Minnesota, I needed none of the above bullet points before starting my job.

After you get a job at the club of your choosing and you start making money, you will have to pay the club and other club employees some of the cash you make every single night.

At every club I’ve worked at there have been:

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

House Fees – Some clubs have a flat-rate, you have to pay this right before you start. At most clubs with a flat-rate the prices go up or down according to the time you get there. One club I worked at let the girls pre-pay a flat-rate but they HAD to be there for the night they pre-paid for all dressed and made up by 8p (this is early for dancers!) to walk around the pole in a line with the other girls and be individually introduced for the night (read: roll call). If you didn’t pre-pay or you were late you were charged an extra fee. Most clubs offer the chance to pay after your shift, too, but there’s usually an extra fee for that option as well. If you don’t like to go on stage; that’s yet another fee. You can pay to stay off the stage the whole night. Some clubs charge you one time and you’re off–no worries, other clubs will have you pay that same fee every single time you would’ve been on stage that night (every “rotation”). If the club does not charge you right when you walk in (or the night before), they will be charging you per dance you give that night. For clubs like this they will have a “dance counter,” he sits at a touch screen computer and tallies every single dance you give. At the end of the night, you get a receipt with your “stats” for the night. Basically, it tells you how much of what you made isn’t yours to keep and how many dances you did to get there. In my experience of working at one club that worked this way, it was $7 to the club for every $20 that you made. The flat-rates I’ve experienced have ranged from $7-$100 per shift.

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Photo via Raw Story

Exotic Dancewear & Makeup – Our clothes are not cheap, no matter how little fabric is actually used to make them! A tiny 3-piece bikini set is a bit over $50. The cheapest heels you can find are $50+ and those are just the basics and most plain options–the bare minimum! If you want anything really exotic or sexy, you will definitely spend over $100 on a full costume/outfit (including the shoes). Buying knock-off things from Walmart will not cut it, you need to shop at the real exotic lingerie stores where they sell the dildos, too…YES. You do have to. The stuff made at Walmart is made for people who sit down all day, exotic dancewear is made for dancers who dance all night. It is worth the money; the tons of money you will need to spend on it! Diablo Cody was wrong in her stupid book, the color you wear and the design on your outfit does matter. Certain colors and outfits do make you more money. Same goes for makeup. Spend money on the stuff that lasts all night so you’re not in the locker room re-applying your makeup after every dance and stage set (time is money!). Plus, most strip clubs are very dark…the high-end makeup shows up much better!!

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Photo by Jan Laugesen

Locker Room Fees – You need a lot of stuff with you at all times when you’re a dancer. (I’ll write a whole other post about what you should have with you at all times as a dancer, I promise.) Some dancers are very sketchy; they do drugs and have pimps, they have no morals, etc. They are not trustworthy. You do not want to leave your things out in a strip club locker room, ever (unless everyone else does, too). You want to keep it stowed away and locked up tight while you’re out on the floor. Some clubs will charge you to have a locker and some clubs won’t even let you bring your own lock–they make you buy one from them even if it’s the same brand and make as the one you brought in. Some clubs will even make you renew your locker every year or every 6 months. I’ve been charged $10-$30 for a locker (and lock).

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Photo by chuttersnap

VIP/Champagne Room “Rent” – Every time you make it into a VIP or Champagne room with a customer, you owe the club a cut. There is not one single club that doesn’t take a cut out of your private room dances. At least, not one that I’ve worked at. Some clubs take all of the money from the customers, take their cut then give you yours after the dance. Other clubs will let you handle all of your cash and you give the host the room “rent” after your dance. The longer you go, the more you get paid, the more you owe the club. Honestly, I get confused on all these numbers and every club is so different so I won’t get into all that.

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Photo by Aidan Bartos

Tipping – This is the biggest thing. You need to tip. On top of the room rent you pay when you walk out of the VIP, you need to tip the VIP host. How much you tip him or her also depends on how much you make. Of course, the more you make the more you tip. If you dance on stage and even if you don’t, you need to tip the DJ. If they play specific songs for you per your request then you should give them a little extra. The first DJ I ever danced for told me that you should always “do a dance for the DJ” so if one regular lap dance costs $20, you should tip him that much (do not literally give him a dance). If you don’t (as a DJ I hated threatened me once) they will make you dance to Be Bop by Hansen. You need to know that everyone that works there knows how much you are making and they will expect more out of you the more you make. A lot of clubs also have house moms. She provides everything for the girls such as hot meals, snacks, extra thongs, perfume (which you shouldn’t use), eyelashes, razors, anything you might’ve forgotten at home but…everything comes at a cost, right? You need to tip the house mom every night and you need to tip her more if you use any of her things. (Doesn’t being a house mom sound like a dream career?) The MOST important person you need to tip is the manager. Most places truly expect 20% of what you make every night as a tip but it won’t hurt if you’re having a bad night to tip them a bit less. Sometimes when you tip the host after each private room set this also counts as tipping out the managers, sometimes it doesn’t. If you drive to work, expect to tip the bouncer who walks you to your car and the valet boy that brings your car up to you (if you tip him well; he’ll even heat your car up for you when it’s cold outside). There is sometimes a “cage person” who will turn your fake money (aka dance dollars–not all clubs have this) into real money, if there is one of these people; you guessed it!–they are also expecting you to tip them. The doorman who checks IDs and collects admittance fees–he gets a small tip, too. If there is one person who checks IDs and there’s another person who collects admittance fees…both are expecting a tip from you! The club employees are not allowed to ask for tips from the dancers so it’s hard to really know who and how much to tip, but ask the other dancers that have worked there for awhile (you’ll be able to tell which ones they are, trust me). Sometimes, a manager will explain how to tip or a DJ will fill you in but they aren’t supposed to so it’s always told to you a bit weird; they never tell you an exact “good” amount. Tipping is really important if you work in a strip club…it is easy for anyone there to make your job harder for you. Do not give them a reason to.

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Photo by Lexi Ruskell

Uber/Lyft/Taxi – If you’re a drinker…take the safe route and just leave your car at home! It’s hard to stay sober especially when you’re expected to entertain table after table with full bottle service! Always have money on your card so you can take an Uber or Lyft. I’ve seen seriously fucked up dancers get thrown in the back of a taxi cab–that seems so dangerous to me…not that Uber is that much safer but at least there’s a tracking device in the app and you can program your home address in there so the driver knows exactly where to go–they won’t have to try to listen to your slurred (mis)directions. Not only is Uber safer than a Taxi but it’s literally half the price, too. If you don’t drink, go you! You can erase this from your dancing fees!

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Photo by Daiga Ellaby

Go Home Early/Ending Shift Early Fee – Some nights are just not worth staying around for. You want to end your shift earlier than your contract permits–go ahead, you can leave but, of course, for a fee. All clubs in Minnesota had a “leave early” fee. In Vegas, only one club I worked at had a set minimum hours you had to work (usually 4h) then you could leave freely. The club I work at now (thank God) lets me leave whenever I want–no charge. Read your contract!! The managers can not go against it and trust me, a lot of them will try to!newproject_1_original_tujmsfcs2r2


Featured Image by Joshua Newton

38 thoughts on “The Prices You Have To Pay To Be An Exotic Dancer

    1. Yeah you do have to do quite a few dances to tip out all the employees a “good” amount! Some nights you don’t make it & if I make less, so do they! I don’t care how sour they act about it. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow, I had no idea. I put a novel on Amazon that had a stripper as a main character; now I wish I’d met you first. She’s a cool character and was only there long enough to meet a guy who became her sugar daddy, but I had no idea what a pain in the ass all the money stuff was. They would have cool details.

    But I am curious; do you know if it is different in a club owned by a woman?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh interesting! What was the title of the book & is it still on Amazon?
      I worked at one club owned by a woman but her dad gave it to her. The club had the lowest fees, lowest dance prices, a very nice, calm atmosphere, & she set the tip out prices by exact amount. She had us tip the bar staff, DJ, & doorman only but we HAD to every single night. They were not high fees at all though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The link I posted is to a satire I wrote about amatuers who decide to make a movie to raise money to support an indie radio station. The heroine’s sugar daddy is the producer but then she really does fall in love with his friend who is the director.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s crazy how expensive it is to be a dancer, I never really thought about it but it makes sense. Would you say it’s worth it? After all the extra costs and tipping and all of that. It almost feels that you spend as much as you make lol, but I guess it would vary on the night, too! But as long as you enjoy dancing, I guess that’s the important part 🙂 there’s definitely a lot to learn about being in that industry, you’ve taught me a lot with your posts lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it’s def worth it, ha. They make us pay that much because they know we can. On the bad nights I just don’t tip as well, it wouldn’t be fair that they would make more money off of us than we are making ourselves. You have to divvy it up wisely!!
      Hahaha I’m happy to fill you in, I enjoy sharing my experience!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well good! And that makes sense, haha. It just sounded like the costs were super expensive, but I guess you would also be making good money, too – for the most part. And I enjoy reading about your experience! Haha ☺️ it really is interesting because I never really thought about how a strip club works

        Liked by 1 person

        1. They are expensive! I feel that we should keep more/all of what we make since we do all the work…and nakedness lol.
          It means more to me than you know that you’re so open-minded about my job & are interested in my experiences. 🙂 ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Right? I definitely think you should keep majority of what you make lol. Like the money wouldn’t have been made without you!
            And awww well good! 💜 Because I can definitely say that I probably won’t be stripping anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I think you’re wrong to do it or enjoy it. Actually it’s better that you do enjoy your job most of the time 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, I had no idea there were so many fees involved. I did know you have to pay a house fee and tip the DJ, but I didn’t know that basically every little thing has a fee involved. That’s so crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahah yeah, I actually forgot to mention that in the customer bathrooms there’s a lady who pumps the soap on your hand & gives you paper towels & also expects a tip ($1 every time!). I usually use the locker room bathroom to avoid her though haha.
      Yeah everyone expects a tip, it is crazy!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This post further proves I wouldn’t make it in this business lol all those tips damn! Do you get like a base pay in addition to “commission” I guess you can call it? 🤔 But I guess it’s not too much different than being a waitress usually they have to split the tips with the other staff too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL yeah, it’s annoying. No, we get what we make–no base pay/hourly pay & the managers kind of low-key keep an eye on you so they know how much you’re making. If you make a lot & they can see that; they definitely will be expecting more that night. Also, for VIP rooms, they write it down on a log so they DEFINITELY know how much you make in those & they expect a certain percent off each one.

      Liked by 1 person

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