Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Racism and Stripping

Dancers have had to deal with criticism, scorn and poor treatment since the first dancer did a striptease. The so called proper people will look down at those who, in the opinion of some, demean themselves for money. The sting and horror of racism exists in the industry as well.

On Monday, I told you that there were three classes of dancers - A, B and C lists - and each dancer would perform at corresponding clubs. Guess what? The A list clubs hired almost exclusively white dancers while the minority dancers performed at the B and C clubs.

That being said, it is also important to realize that A list dancers usually had better acts, were in better shape and were more attractive. Naturally, those dancers made more money. Sometimes, a B list dancer would be called in to fill in for an A list dancer if there weren't enough top dancers to fill the positions.

The A-grade nightclubs were in the West End - Cave Supper Club, Isy's Supper Club and the Penthouse Night Club - while the B and C clubs were in the Main Street, Chinatown area. Many of the C clubs were in the lower income areas where patrons would be 'drinking their welfare checks'.

A note: Al though the A clubs were PREDOMINANTLY white, there were African and other minorities dancers that were hired occasionally.

African Canadian dancers - no matter how good her reputation was - had to prove themselves by performing in places such as Kamloops before being hired at an A-grade club in Vancouver. Still they were quite often paid less than their white counterparts.

Once pubs and hotel beer parlours in and outside of Vancouver's mainland began opening and increasing the demand for dancers, the colour lines began to blur a bit and dancers that are more ethnic were able to find work at better pay. Things began to change.

Once again, I would like to thank the book Burlesque West by Becki L. Ross for the information provided here today.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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1 comment:

  1. Love your comments on how racesism was seen in those days much like it is here. It is a shame race plays into living