The Struggle Is Real: 5 Issues Every Professional Go-Go Dancer Faces

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Being a go-go dancer can be a rewarding, empowering, and artful career, but it comes with its challenges. We, at DoD, sat down with some professional go-gos and were able to put together this list of common struggles.

1. Knowing who is serious about hiring and who just wants pretty girls to show up at their party.
It’s frustrating to be booked, then not get a response or be cancelled day of. Many go-gos have other jobs that they have to request off from, and then find themselves unable to make money. Sometimes a promoter will promise a set amount, and later pay less. Dancers deserve to be paid fairly for the talent they bring to the table. This is a prevalent issue for independent dancers, but can continue to present a problem even with troupes and teams. Rudegirlz captain Kendall Aranell has had experience with this. “One promoter claimed they paid our manager (which they didn’t), another it took about a month to be paid half of our original agreement.” However, she has an easy solution. “Most of the time you can tell by how they act when you send them an invoice. Anyone who seems less serious, can’t tell me details on the event, or won’t agree to pay in writing- I won’t work with.”

2. Being mistaken for a stripper.
There are many (fraudulent) stigmas associated with go-gos, and dancers have learned to take these things with a grain of salt. They are accustomed to hearing unsolicited judgments from passersby, and having to explain themselves to family and friends unfamiliar with their work. One of the most common; “So, you’re a stripper?” Negative. Gogo dancers are not strippers, and have an entirely different job description. As dancer Krista Carter put it, “I’m an entertainer/performer. I get booked for specific events to provide visual entertainment for their guests, and I don’t take my clothes off.” Gogo performances are geared to fit the theme of the specific event, with custom-made outfits that are often designed by the dancers themselves. These outfits can even include extensive make-up artistry, body paint, and full character immersion. These girls don’t waste their time putting it all on just to take it off. “Sometimes I even act in costume! I don’t see cosplays in strip clubs.” Speaking of outfits…

3. Costume fails and wardrobe malfunctions.
Depending on the event, the promoter, and whom the dancer is performing, outfits are either provided or put together by dancers. Crafting outfits can be fun, but often the design doesn’t always turn out as planned. Whether it is pieces of the wardrobe falling apart, shorties riding up in the front and flashing a cameltoe, or clothing-mounted lights going out, all go-gos have experienced this in some way. Former dancer Nikki Pandanell shared her experience. “Never fails- when there are fishnets and sequins involved you’re always getting snagged on something or someone or a jewel falls off, or you’re just too into the music and dance your crin out. That was super embarrassing!” Crin, AKA cyberlocks, are tubed hair accessories that bounce and glow while dancing. “But if you don’t tie them tight in your hair they fly across the stage mid-hair whip.” Kendall Aranell has been there as well. “I swear there’s [a wardrobe malfunction] every show, whether it’s me or another girl. The worst is when your LEDs just stop working. There’s nothing you can do mid-gig when a wire doesn’t work anymore.” At Something Wicked in Houston, Krista Carter radiated bright LEDs, while Kendall occupied the other end of the stage with only half of hers lit!

4. Lack of professionalism.
When dancers have worked hard to get to know the right people, improve their performance skills, and land gigs, it can be extremely frustrating to be around self-proclaimed go-gos that lack professionalism. Professionals arrive dressed correctly, on time, and ready to work. “The thing that truly separates amateurs and professionals is that professionals treat it as a job. Amateurs generally tend to think being a go-go is all fun and games… which it’s not. Professionals practice; they spend their time working on their skills and art form making it better,” says Kendall. Some easily notable indicators that a particular gogo is not a professional; showing up dressed in only underwear without accessories or decoration, wearing fluffies, rhythm, and drug use. Krista has seen this happen. “I’ve had a girl straight ask if I want to take some bumps of coke once. Uh, no thanks, I’m like walking on stage… I know [some dancers] that have and do, but usually that’s, like, not cool in the Gogo world.” As Nikki put it, “It’s always a bad idea to lessen motor function skills in heels on a 5 foot tower in front of crowds of people. You’d be an idiot in my book to do drugs and dance.” So, step up your game prospective go-gos, and lay off the party favors while you are working.

5. Keeping a bangin’ body.
Fitness is one of the most important parts of being a dancer. Besides wanting to look attractive, it is an absolute necessity to have stamina for gigs. Dancers are on the stage dancing for a full 45 minutes to an hour straight. “Fitness is highly important; there are lots of companies that won’t work with you if you’re not physically fit. As a performer maintaining your body is a requirement, they want you to look good on stage and your skill is only part of that. Personally I work out 4 or so times a week. Whether it’s a quick yoga session, an aerial class, martial arts, or a dance class I make sure to be active for part of my week. It’s a good idea to be in shape for gogo dancing, otherwise chances are you won’t have great stamina for your gigs.”

For more on the struggles on careers in the EDM scene, check out Matthew Dunn’s article 5 Things No One Tells You About Being A New Local DJ at http://thedepartmentofdance.com/5-things-no-one-tells-you-about-being-a-new-local-dj-in-houston/

Photo credit: Mike Victorick
Gogo: Terra Kerrigan

About Ms. Money

Meganne Money is The Department of Dance Copy Editor. She is also a freelance writer, music/event critic, dancer, and vocalist. Meganne has a passion for music and the EDM community, and delivers information in a creative and entertaining way.

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