Who Took the Dance Out of Stripping?


I recently saw Magic Mike XXL and, though I generally loved it – the endearing actors, the engaging characters, the setting – it’s just a generally fun movie – I have to say, compared to the first Magic Mike, I just thought something was missing. And it wasn’t the plot. Who really cares about such things in a movie like this! You see it for the aforesaid. No, it was the dancing that was missing for me. The first movie was filled with fun, interesting, well-choreographed routines, many of which kept you on the edge of your seat wondering what was going to happen next. And Channing Tatum’s hip hop acrobatics were both mouth-watering and thrilling. It seemed like the  performances in XXL consisted mainly of the guys shaking their booties, and crotches, in the women’s faces, and not a whole lot more.

Yet it mirrored what I’ve recently seen in Vegas. NOT that I’m any expert on male strip shows, but I’ve been going to this romance novel convention there for the past couple of years and the man who founded it has a friend who choreographs for male revues. The choreographer, who’s also a dancer, creates a little show for the convention’s attendees, and also invites us to his formal revues off the strip. Last year’s performance, which he made for the cover model “casanovas” at the convention had a lot of the Magic Mike-esque routines performed on a raised stage by the men. Then, he performed his own routine and he did all these amazing gymnastic stunts, flipping over and atop the female romance novelist brave enough to participate. It was jaw-dropping; it completely wowed all of us  – you could tell by the noise the audience made. But then, he invited us to his show this year, and it was mostly just the men working the audience, giving individual lap dances and gyrating in women’s faces. I figured they might have taken the gymnastic feats out for liability purposes. But most of the fun group numbers were gone too.

So, I was excited to see XXL. And then disappointed. It was the same as the show I’d just seen. So is this how strip shows are these days? Is this what women are wanting?

I remember going to Chippendales when I was younger, and that was full of actual choreographed dancing – cleverly arranged numbers, amazing movement, and, yes, stunning bodies. But the hot bodies without the artistry of the dance are just somehow not as hot.

During an interview for the original Magic Mike, Channing Tatum reflected on differences he saw between male and female strip club goers. He said men tend to take it more seriously, actually thinking or hoping they may get a date with the stripper, whereas women know it’s all just for fun. I think another difference is that women want artistry. During the Vegas show I kept thinking how I wanted the guys to stop shaking their crotches in my face and go up on stage and dance – a thought I’m sure no man in a strip club has ever had! I dunno. That’s what I think anyway. Maybe other women are different and really enjoy the lap dances and that’s what these shows and movies now are catering to…

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