“I expect that they stick to their commitments and that they present themselves as professionals. I prefer they pay back money they borrowed and/or repay any pre-paid ticket money if they cannot finish a contract. This is not enforced, but is well received and well respected if they do. Also, I don’t proceed with legal action against them if they don’t. It’s more of a “moral obligation”, which I hope some will have enough integrity to adhere to. I also expect that they use logic and adhere to the law.”
“Be respectful of the other girls and try not to get in their way or act superior. Dancers see a lot of rookies come and go and are not always accommodating and patient with new girls, especially new girls with attitude. It's best to be respectful, quiet, and take their advice when appropriate.”
“It takes time to get a feel for the club and learn what works for you. Understand that making money takes time and investment. But make sure you're making more money than you're spending. This is a job, not volunteer work.”
Training and getting started depend on where you are and what type of dancing you’re looking at.
You can contact an agency or a club. Clubs that book independently sometimes publish job ads for exotic dancers in newspapers or exotic dancer magazines.
They will ask you to meet them in person, or email a photo of yourself and a copy of your photo identification (ID) to them. They may ask you to fill out a short form regarding your contact information, age, physical attributes, and social insurance number (SIN).
When you go to a club for the first time, bring your photo ID in case they want to see it.
To audition, you may be required to compete in an amateur contest. You should expect to be paid for being in the contest. Winners will often be paid more.
VIP dancing doesn't require any training either; just a good attitude, a hot look, and a hiring club. Take care of auditions or licensing ahead of time. You should be ready to work, have your ID on you, and bring a couple of sexy outfits. Some clubs have VIP girls on shift, most have drop in with house fees. Find out what the protocol is for the club you want to work at. Ask the DJ, other dancers, or manager ahead of time. Make sure you look sexy when you enquire.
Find out about fees, shifts, hours, payouts, tips, and contact rules. Ask about contact expectations, as well as laws (these are not always the same).
Many entertainers learn pole tricks and dance moves working in small towns with hardly any customers. Others prefer to practice walking and dancing in heels in their own homes.
If you're booked at a club for a Sunday, see if you can practice on the stage before the club opens, or if there are no customers in the bar. On Sundays, clubs usually open later. It is also the one day a week that clubs will book dancers just for the day and usually the day off for dancers who’ve worked Monday to Saturday.
Pole dance lessons are becoming more available. Check around to see if lessons are available in your area.
In some cities, you are required to get a license. Make sure you arrive with enough time to purchase your license before starting your gig. That means getting to the licensing office, standing in line, paying for your license, and getting back to the club in time for check-in. You will need to be extra early if the club has morning meetings with their dancers at the start of the week.
Licenses usually cost between $100 and $150. In Calgary, your license is good for a year from the date that you bought it. In Edmonton, your license is only valid until the end of December, so your best bet is to purchase early in the year. Licenses are also required in Toronto and Vaughn, Ontario.
Phone the licensing department of the city you’re working in to find out more.
What Agents Are Looking For
Agents and club owners are looking for a healthy, polished appearance, and a smile. They prefer professional, reliable entertainers who have realistic expectations, and get along with others.
What To Look For in an Agent
The best agents are kind, understanding, and supportive when you’re going through a crisis. They acknowledge when your show has improved by offering you a higher show price. They defend you and your show price to club owners. And they tell it to you straight when there’s a problem. The best agents do not lie to you.
Because being an agent can be extremely stressful, they are sometimes quite pushy on the phone. If you find that an agency is not treating you well, or that your bookings keep falling through, find another agency to work through until the storm passes over.
Approximate pay for female striptease artists in Canada:
Stage shows- $20 - $150 per show
Private shows- $25 - $60 per song
Massage- $5 - $15 per song
Lap dance- $10 - $60 per song
Stags- $200 - $500 for 4 songs or more
The following may be deducted from dancer's pay depending on location:
Agency commission – usually 10 - 15%
GST on agency commission
SOCAN/KPAC – music royalties
Floor fees – fees to the house for doing private shows
Service charges – accommodations, housekeeping, phone/cable, etc.
Fines – Dancers may be fined for missing shows and other infractions
“Tip out”- bouncers, bartender, DJ
Driver fee- depends on the distance and usually is around ½ the comparable taxi fare
Stage $$ Tips
Stage tips range from zero to $250/day across the country. Alberta tips more. Manitoba, not at all. Ontario and Quebec tips involve interaction that includes having customers on stage. In Alberta and some parts of BC, customers participate in the "loonie toss" where a performer offers posters and other incentives for customers to win.
Pay rates for Male Striptease Artists:
Between $150 and $300
Additional tips from audience are common
Most dancers are VIP dancers and don't have a contract at all. They make their money from selling dances. They may have shift pay, hours scheduled, or drop-in.
Stage dancers have a weekly contract.
If you book through an agency, your agent will negotiate the terms of the contract with the club. Mostly, your ability to negotiate is restricted to saying yes or no to the gigs offered, and there may be some room to negotiate your show price. If you say no to a gig, you risk getting blacklisted by that agency (that is: not getting work through them for a while).
Your contract is pre-written. If you want a higher show price, you need to haggle your show price before the contract is developed for a particular club. The more professional clubs will have you sign your contract at the beginning of your week’s work. However, most of the time you will receive your contract at the end of the week when you’re getting paid. Basically, you are signing it in return for your earnings.
The problem with this is that your contract may not show the same show price you originally discussed with your agency. You’ve done all your shows and now you’re short a few hundred dollars.
Occasionally, if you are diligent with the agency, you may get your money back through a higher show price at another gig to compensate for the money you lost. But more often, you won’t receive the amount you had agreed to in the first place.
Before agreeing to a club booking, ask your agent if there are any added costs for working at that club, for example, accommodations. Ask what the rules are around mandatory floor time and private show quotas. Mandatory floor time involves dressing sexy and being in the bar at set day and evening times to do VIPs. A private show quota is the minimum amount of private shows you are expected to perform each week. If you do not perform the minimum of private dances and consequently tip out the amount for each show that you are expected to tip out; the remaining tip out amount will be deducted from your pay. Also, find out about club fines.
Negotiating Your Pay
Exotic dancers use many different strategies when asking for a higher show price. Use these suggestions from other dancers or come up with something creative on your own.
- Go into the agency office with new promo, a great tan, and a flattering outfit.
- Start turning down the bookings that are lower than what you want to be paid, unless it’s a booking you really want and you’re willing to take the cut.
- Remember that the agency works for you, but they also have to fit you into the budget of the club.
- Radiate confidence. Agents can smell insecurity.
- Ask the agent to come by the bar and see your show. Phone them mentioning that they haven’t seen you in awhile and that you’d like them to come to the club to see your current skill level. Ask if you can buy THEM a drink. Keep it friendly, light and casual,
- Make an image for yourself – a brand – and use gimmicks to increase your popularity and make a name for yourself.
- Have your promo done professionally by talented photographers.
- Get a website.
- Buy big theme costumes and put lots of effort into your shows.
- Take photos of yourself wearing all your costumes, list all the gimmicks you have and any training or certifications (fire, poi, etc), and take photos of some of your more difficult moves (flexibility, pole work, etc). Write a small bio with your stats, titles, and put it all together to give to agencies.
- If a club owner was happy with your work, ask them to mention your shows to the agencies.
- Buy club owners a drink and ask if they’d request you back.
- When working, sit with customers and sell private dances. Emphasize to the agents that you hustle between shows. The money you make for the bar doing VIP’s is a strong justification for a raise.
- Pale complexions can make you look sick under stage lights. A tan will help you look more healthy (spray-on or booth).
- Dye your hair blonde.