Comment ca va? In the world of the self-employed, contract artist, one learns how to say, “Yes, I can do that!” to just about anything. That’s how I got myself involved in a studio that does strip cabaret, pole dancing and private parties.
“Whoa, Dale! What are you doing?” you are asking yourselves.
“Montréal is the strip capital of Canada, but aren’t you going a bit far?”
OK, hold on. I’ll explain the situation.
As you know, I teach dance fitness classes and dance aerobics is everywhere here. Because of Montréal’s multicultural nature, these dance aerobic classes come in the form of Afro cardio, Latin cardio, baladi, belly-dancing cardio, zoomba (sexy cardio), hip-hop cardio and on and on. I’m on call in several dance studios should the need arise.
Well, this one teacher who owns the afore-mentioned exotic-dancing studio has injured herself and has called me in to sub a dance-aerobics class. I, of course, am glad to do the job. I have been taking a lot of dance classes, but I really do miss teaching. I get the address and immediately think, “Oh, oh … sounds a little sketchy” but, hey, a gig’s a gig.
Sketchy is the word to best describe my intuitive feelings about this job, especially when the teacher tells me her studio has only a street number (but no name) as they don’t want people walking in off the street – understandable, I guess, as they don’t want “peepers” looking in on the strip classes.
Anyway, class is the next day and I’m set to teach. I find the building and walk through a very heavy wooden door into a small lobby with a bright-yellow metal door.
There is no handle on the door, only a little metal clamp. I grab the clamp and slowly open the door, only to reveal a bigger lobby with yet another bright-yellow metal door in front of me and a short corridor leading to some stairs. There is another metal door to my left, but there is a padlock on it, so I know it is not the door to go through.
Now, in my experience, dance studios are usually upstairs in old buildings, so I head toward the stairs. I immediately recoil at the stench of urine as it slams into my nostrils – gag!
OK, not going there. My only other option is the yellow metal door. Do I dare?
I must admit I am a little uneasy, but I pull open the door and peer down another short corridor, several doors on either side. The air is a little musty; there is a slight smell of pot drifting through the hall and the walls and floor are painted-grey cement.
Luckily, I hear faint music and follow the sound. I put my ear to a door, read the notice posted on it – RENT PAST DUE – and say to myself, Well, I’ve come this far. I open the door and see a few young women practising pole dancing.
The teacher, undisturbed by my entrance, seems very pleasant. I look around. I see a dance floor about 16 feet by 16 feet, mirrors in front of the floor, four poles rigged on the dance floor, guide lights around the floor and a red light bulb hanging from the ceiling.
I introduce myself, watch the end of the pole-dancing class (looks hard), get instructions on how to lock up and wait for some dance-aerobic participants to show up. It is the last class of a session and I wonder if anyone will show up. Well, they do.
I teach a dance fitness class to three students, lock up and then head down the hallway to the yellow metal door, which takes me to the first yellow metal door, which takes me to the heavy wooden door and the cold air of the street outside.
I remember to hold my breath on the way out, so the fresh air is exceptionally welcome.
I walk to the metro and think to myself, Why couldn’t I just work for an insurance company?
But, if that were the case, I definitely wouldn’t have these stories to tell.
Happy dancing! Until next time …
PS: By the by, I actually wound up taking a strip-cabaret class, but that’s another story – for another publication.