Electric Girl On Stripping, Pole Dancing and Activism

I first met stripper, pole dancer, performer and activist Electric Girl at Floorplay 2018 and was blown away by her energy and skill on stage. I mean… she twerked to techno in a standing split. So it was about time she got her own blog poƒst! In this Q&A, she spills the tea about what pole dancers should say when asked about stripping, her performing and activism career and what being a stripper is really like. This is a must read for every pole dancer, so that we can all stop being shit about the profession that gave us the sport / hobby we know and love and start supporting our stripper sisters.

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Who Is Electric Girl?

Electric Girl is a London based performer, experienced stripper and activist working with unions and women’s rights organisations. She has been performing for eight years and is known as the techno princess, recognised for her audience engaging acts and electronic beats. She loves sharing her creativity and energy with the crowd.

I am super excited to have her on Blogger On Pole because, as someone who loves stripper style pole dancing, I’m often asked questions about working as a stripper or asked to distance myself from strippers. Re: working as a stripper, unfortunately I’m not qualified to answer that question as I’ve never done it – but our Electric Girl is, so her answers will be really helpful if you want to go into that line of work. Re: distancing pole from stripping, that’s not what I’m about and that’s not what any pole dancer should be about. Electric Girl tells you why below.

How did you get into stripping?

It actually was a random. Dancing has always been my passion and I’ve been training various styles since I was 10. When I was about to start studies a friend of mine suggest working in a strip club and said could show me some clubs. At the beginning I was like: “I’m not gonna get naked for money,” but since the first shift I actually loved the idea of being on stage and having my own show. Getting topless / naked wasn’t as big a challenge and problem as I thought.

What are the pros and cons of stripping?

I’ll start with the pros as there is less to list, ha ha. In most of the clubs girls work as self employed, which gives you a lot of flexibility and freedom to arrange your work schedule and time off. However, that is not that easy, as each club has their rules, so often to get a two-month holiday (which you theoretically have a right to because of self-employment), you will be required to work for it beforehand, so you’ll do double shifts or have other conditions to fulfill. So that’s a tricky pro.

Cons, here we go. Firstly, this business is a lottery and you’ll never know how much you are gonna earn or if you are gonna earn money at all. There will be days you will pay house fee and be on zero or minus. There are slow seasons like January – February or summer (July – August) and you’ll be sitting for hours in the club waiting for customers, then working hard and then earning little. It’s not always thousands of dollars and champagne. The key is not to get too frustrated about it and remember it’s normal to have up and downs in the club.

Second thing is working night time and weekends. Although I’m a night owl and got used to the hours, it’s often exhausting in the long run and also may give you sleeping problems or even insomnia. It also affects your social life.

Another risk calculated in this job is use or abuse of stimulants. Cigarettes, alcohol, drugs will always be around. I’m not saying you will definitely become an addict because you do stripping – what I mean is you might get more into them, and unfortunately you may loose control too. Also working with women only is competitive, and you can imagine there always will be some dramas etc, but that’s not such a big deal. There are conflicts in every work.

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What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

My first big performance in Village Underground (one of the most renowned venues and techno clubs in Europe) in June 2019 for Fox and Badge. As the techno princess (ha, ha) I value the places I perform at a lot, and trust me, to perform in the same place where your favourite DJs had their decks is a true honour (I know, sounds pompous) and pure joy. Another big thing was being nominated as the Stripper of the Year 2019 by the Sexual Freedom Awards.

More often than not, recreational pole dancing and stripping seem very uncomfortable cousins. How can pole dancers be more considerate to strippers when talking about pole?

I think acknowledging the fact of where the dance comes from and not being ashamed of it is a first step. You don’t have to do pole dancing and talk about stripping, but if you start talking about the whole sex appeal, how pole dance is empowering, and then have a go about strippers at the same time, then that is a big hypocrisy. Same when people are doing pole and work in the industry, but when they talk about pole dancing (the sensuality, power and art of the performance) they only refer to it as a sport or part of building self-confidence“ this is a hypocrisy too.

Pole dancing came out from the clubs. It came to mainstream and popular culture thanks to reality shows, and people who wanted to make it a sport discipline too. Now we have plenty of pole studios, competitions – soon we may have pole dance even at Olympics. Yet, we still feel uncomfortable while talking about bodies and sex. If you don’t wanna build that wall, want to do pole dancing and talk about confidence you should actually appreciate strippers.

Pole dancers are sometimes asked if they’re strippers. How can we respond in a way that is accurate, considerate and that doesn’t appropriate stripping culture?

I think saying “No, I’m not a stripper” is a fair and accurate answer. You don’t need to say anything positive to glorify the job. However, if you elaborate to shame the strippers, the job, the industry then you should consider how can you do pole dancing at all, cause you act like a hypocrite.

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What would you like to see the pole dance industry do better?

It’s a hard question. I was teaching a few years back, in Poland and here in London, but I feel since I stopped, and started working full time in the club and performing, I was sort of left out from the industry. I don’t go for classes, I don’t participate in competitions, pole events, I’m not that much part of the community.

There is definitely one thing though that annoys me a lot. That is competing and paying so much to present your choreography. I understand paying some sort of fee, but there are brands that will charge you a lot – way too much. Think how much you invest of your time, money to make the routine, prepare the costume, video, travel. Then you and others create someone’s event, because you all perform, but what you get in return is often irrelevant to how much you put in. It’s often one big exploitation. So maybe I’d like the pole dancing industry to be less about competing and paying hundreds.

Recently, movies like Hustlers and JLo’s performance at the Super Bowl have highlighted problems with pop culture’s appropriation of stripping while strippers themselves were being erased from social media and media. What’s your opinion on this type of entertainment?

It is obviously unfair and sad to see, but such is the nature of the capitalist world. People who are popular or celebrities will be praised for their actions, while people who do the actual work will be underestimated or stigmatised. I do wanna believe that performances like that (I don’t want to refer to Hustlers, as this movie had a lot of issues, and also you refer to those in your previous post) will make the society more reflective. However, I feel it’s more likely to happen through activism and sexual education than through popular culture. We just need to finally start talking about sex openly.

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Have you been affected by shadowbanning / account or picture deletion? If so, how and how does that feel?

Unfortunately yes, I have been and still often get shadow banned. It began in early spring 2018 when I started talking more about the industry, then joined a stripper union and started to promote protests, meetings etc. My activism and posts lined up with FOSTA/SESTA, so my posts got shadow banned, my profile or pictures weren’t shown under hashtags, you couldn’t even Google me. My audience engagement dropped down massively, and basically since then it’s been getting worse and worse, although I had gained more followers.

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It feels frustrating, as for the first three months when I launched my profile Electric Girl, people were reaching out to me for collaboration or trade work. Once I started getting banned, I lost all of the opportunities, and also very little people see my work. Goodbye online promotion.

Can you tell me a bit more about the stripper union you’re part of?

The union United Strippers of the World was created by a few feminist and sex work organisations like Women’s Strike UK, East London Strippers Collective, SWARM and other activists in May 2018. The union is for sex workers and strippers only and its aim is to unite people working in the industry and get workers’ rights in the clubs. We have regular meetings and social events. We organise strikes and demos. If you want to know more or even join head to https://www.uvwunion.org.uk/strippers to find out more. 

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What have you got coming up in the next few months?

I plan to do some traveling. Definitely wanna go Berlin in summer for a few weeks, maybe even move out of London. I also want to perform at music festivals (mostly electronic and techno ones), so these are some big goals for me. Plus I’m having a hearing in Employment Tribunal on 17th February with my former employer – the owner of one of the most popular strip clubs in London. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Update (6th March 2020)

She did it! Electric Girl won her fight at the employment tribunal!

According to her union’s press release:

“A judge at an employment tribunal ruled that dancers in a London strip clubs Browns and Horns have worker status. Until now, dancers were misclassified as ‘independent contractors’, which means they had no access to even the most basic rights at work. The new ruling now opens the door for dancers to claim workers’ rights such as paid annual leave, a guaranteed pay for all hours worked, the right to take maternity or sick leave without the risk of termination, protection against workplace harassment and the right to organise through a trade union. The club owners defended their claim that the dancers were not workers, but the tribunal rejected this claim.”

United Strippers of the World

This is an important precedent for strippers in the UK to claim workers’ rights. Well done Electric Girl, this is HUGE!

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