Dancers are speaking out


On Monday, December 3, 2018, dancers Aaliyah & Aubrey spoke before the WA House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee about some major issues in strip clubs in WA. This was a powerful moment — check out the clip below to hear their testimonies yourself:

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Aaliyah’s experience…
“I wasn’t nervous because it’s a subject I feel strongly & passionate about. Getting up there being the only person of color in that room I felt gave me more power! Finally these legislators heard a piece of what’s going on in a world that they have little to no knowledge of. The best part was at the end when a few legislators, reporters, and a few others came and gave us their card and told us that the fight has just begun! This is just the start of a big change and I’m just so excited for

 

Aubrey’s experience…

“I can’t believe how well we spoke, how well they listened, mostly that they were listening. It felt good to finally have someone on our side, see our face, hear real stories, real examples of how were treated in this industry that we enjoy so much. The response we got from everyone was beyond amazing — everyone wanted to know more, everyone wanted to help. Overall, I’m proud and ready for what’s about to come!”

Here are some of the key issues that Aaliyah & Aubrey brought up:

  • Managers mishandling assault & sexual assault in clubs. Aubrey spoke about the need for managers to be trained in responding to assault and proactively offering dancers their options, including the option to call 911. Right now, club managers often discourage workers from reporting these kinds of issues — Aubrey herself was fired after filing a police report when she was kidnapped while outside the strip club where she was working.
  • Lack of trained security guards. Aaliyah spoke about pimps coming into clubs and harassing dancers, security staff who are untrained and fail to address problems, and dancers not being checked on while in private VIP rooms with customers.
    Customers being allowed back into the clubs after behaving inappropriately. Aubrey brought up the need for a blacklist that would keep problem customers out of the clubs and keep workers safe.
  • Unclean, unhealthy facilities. Aaliyah addressed issues with cleanliness and bathrooms — in particular, the club she used to work at, Little Darlings, only had a single toilet for all dancers to use, and the toilet was often flooded or unusable. The club even stayed open without running water during periods of construction in the area.

Aubrey and Aaliyah love their jobs — Aubrey says her work has allowed her to raise three sons, pay for their college, and never miss a single soccer game or choir concert. But lack of security, poorly maintained facilities, irresponsible managers, and a powerful strip club chain monopoly that owns 9 of WA’s 13 clubs are leading to a deterioration of dancers’ working conditions and safety.

Speaking out was a powerful first step — we’ll keep you updated with the next steps as we move forward.

MEDIA: 

  • KUOW, “Exotic dancers want more on-the-job protections in Washington state”
  • KOMO, “Dancers seek state regulation of strip clubs”
  • Spokesman Review, “Lawmakers question safety conditions at exotic dance clubs”

workingwa.org

 

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