The origions of the modern form of stripping are multi-faceted and broad. However, they can be traced back to 19th century France with shows like Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergere. In other countries, this form of entertainment grew through the traveling burlesque entertainers. Unlike their modern counterparts, burlesque performers performed sexualized danced but they were classy and held themselves to a different standard. They challenged the class relations in how they dressed and behaved. One can argue that Burlesque performances presented politics and the nonsensical and anarchic hierarchical norms of glass and decorum making it possible for women of a lower class to gain independence. They were relegated to a shadowy world reserved for male leisure. The gravitas that Burlesque might have had later revolved around the display of the naked body. It became more sexualized.

Strip clubs were raided and shut down because of decency laws. These were similar laws that were put in place during Alcohol Prohibition. The industry wasn’t solidified yet to stand on its own and it became one of those vices that people indulged in in secret. You would find a Strip Club in dark dingy areas, they would be non-descript and selective in who they let in. However, just like alcohol the government and religious institutions soon realized that they could not prohibit men from spending their recreational time however they seem fit. 

Fast forward to the 60s and the 70s – the height of the sexual revolution. There was a steep rise in the number of clubs that offered erotic dancing. Those weren’t necessarily the easiest times as strip clubs felt the brunt of repression from both government and society. In the 1980s, almost all strip clubs incorporated pole dancing. Another thing that became popular was boobs, and plastic surgeons were having the time of their lives as more women wanted bigger boobs to be more alluring.

The lap dance came a little later. It can be traced back to the early 1990s in Montreal. Although Americans would like to claim that they invented this, but it came later and was only legalized in 1999. The pole was also later turned into a form of exercise with women using the pole to stay fit. Since then there has been a National Pole Dancing Championship held every year. Australia also has its own Australian Pole Dancing Championship.

Another period of further proliferation of strip clubs happened during the 1980s with the rise of capitalism and increasing preoccupation with forms, entertainment, pleasure, and spectacle in the western economies. The American style of stripping was exported globally and without a doubt, it affected the development of strip clubs in other countries.

These days most strip clubs strippers wear skimpy g-strings that leave little to the imagination. The “tease” has completely been eradicated. Ladies still strut around, dance proactively, and slide up and down the pole with men just drooling at their naked bodies. Some strippers will put on specially curated performances like a dominatrix show or they may grind against each other to the enjoyment of the audience which has become more diverse.

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