Putting the Wrong Things on a Pedestal: A Rant

This week Unsceneberlin is partying in Ibiza, but the podium dancers there don't seem to be having as much fun...

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On Amnesia: love the club.  On Cream, loved the music.  But one comment I heard over and over again was, "What's up with those podium dancers?  Why aren't they actually dancing?"  The 34-22-34 sized women that you see standing around on their podiums are so tightly bound by the 'ideal' male fantasy gear that they probably can't breathe, let alone move with anything like the freedom of an actual dancer. Yes, even the men I spoke to were less than enthusiastic about them.  In fact, it was most often a guy who turned to me and wondered loudly why those women were even up there - they were obviously not into the music. How could they be, when they reputedly earn about 45 Euros a night for working in one of the world's most famous clubs, on one of the world's most expensive party islands?

There was a time when go-go dancers in Ibiza were playful alien creatures of both genders.  Now, stepping into a club here is like entering the seedy back room of cigar-smoke-filled gentleman's club.  This could hardly be further from the image of what women in rave has been since the start: androgynous, free from any other definition except for their taste in music.  Maybe that's why so many men coming to an old school trance night like this seem just as baffled by them as the women are annoyed.  What a depressing reminder of how little freedom women have to move in the mainstream, even in modern times: physically, socially and psychologically they are bound by a suffocating image. 

Maybe there are men out there on the dance floor that can ignore or even enjoy the sight of women shifting unenthusiastically in their vanilla fetish gear, displayed on tiny platforms like goods at the local supermarket, but not so me. 

It's a bit insulting that the owners of clubs like Amnesia can't be bothered to find dancers who will appeal to all customers, instead of the macho straight males.  At least half of the club's patrons are chicks.  There were a few muscle-headed, lager-swilling lads there who probably held old school sexist views, but why should the entire club's entertainment be geared toward such an obnoxious minority?  Especially in a trance club?

The podium dancers themselves are these unsmiling, ice maiden fembots that look like they're being slowly suffocated to death in their corsets and tights.  Their moves consist of putting one hand on their hip, cocking it, stretching to show a bit of leg, tossing their oversized manes and strutting five paces in one direction or the other - really, they couldn't go any further than that in those oversized high heels.  It was like watching a fetish catwalk done by an unimaginative designer who has more hair on his palms than on his middle-aged head.

It's a reflection of a trend in dance music, where increasingly, women are not seen as people who can be inspiring because of their passion or musical taste and style.  Women here are only allowed to inspire others with their decorative value - as fashion plates and eye candy.  Like everywhere else, they're there to make the view a little bit more interesting.  And the person whose eyes they are meant to dazzle is clearly a man's.  Why try to educate that man when you can just bring every person in the scene down to his one-dimensional perspective, eh? Don't want to alienate the male customers - after all, they earn 33% more than the women, on average, and are likely to spend that much more.  

I won't try on comment on how gay and lesbian clientele of these clubs feel about this sort of force feeding of straight-male fantasies, but i suspect its even more insulting to them than it is to me. Does Amnesia want to be counted among the corporations that are using their money and influence to dictate a vision of what people should like (and be like)?  To fit the customer to a product that they can understand, instead of the other way around?  

The whole thing just grosses me out.... but I'd still go back to Amnesia and try a different party. It's a good enough club to be worth giving it a second chance.  But if it still looks like a gentleman's club, then that'll be the end of that.  As a woman, I really can't justify paying for a club that gives me a feeling of being invisible and/or unimportant.  I already get that for free in everyday life.


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