POLE dancer Alice Lavery may go to work in her underwear, but she still expects the utmost respect from her customers.
“Just because I work in my underwear does not mean people can treat me like a piece of meat,” she said.
The 23-year-old, who can earn anything between £100 and £1,000 in a night through pole-dancing and private dances, has worked in 15 different clubs throughout the south west and overseas.
She said: “I’d always seen the pole dancers abroad in Magaluf and Malta and thought it could be fun, and when I first started about four years ago I had been to a club one night in Bristol and I saw the girls doing it, and I thought it looked pretty good and I wanted to give it a go and see if I could do it too.
“So I went back in the day and they said I could give it a go and I earned £150 in my first night.
“I was nervous on the first night but you just get used to it. You can’t really be nervous or shy or anything or you just won’t get the customers.”
But despite working in skimpy clothing for several nights of the week, Alice finds the job empowering, addictive, and with no room for hanky panky – especially at Dream Lounge in Regent Circus.
She said: “In Magaluf and Malta, it’s different to what you get in the UK. They give a different impression. Everyone is used to seeing them over there and it gives them the wrong expectations.
“The customers aren’t allowed to touch and the dancers aren’t allowed to touch. If there is anything like that going on then we have a really good security team who are there instantly.
“Girls who do that aren’t allowed to work here. If they have a history of it then we just don’t employ them. It’s pretty strict like that.
“People see it as borderline prostitution, but it’s really not. The guys in here aren’t allowed to touch us, and I think we should respect them for coming here rather than to a brothel.
“It’s just dancing at the end of the day. Unless you’ve done this job, don’t judge anyone else.”
For Alice, Dream Lounge is one of the best places she’s ever worked when it comes to personal safety, but that does not take away each girl’s responsibility to look after themself.
She said: “Most the time you feel pretty safe and you know the security team are going to help you if you need it, especially in Dream Lounge. In some of the other clubs I’ve worked in security haven’t always been so supportive and helpful but here, we’re like a family. You know that they will be there instantly if something goes wrong.
“I’m quite confident as well and not afraid to defend myself and say no is no, and I think you really have to have that. You have to know that sometimes people are going to try and take it too far and you have to be able to look after yourself.
“To do this job you have to be quite streetwise and mature. You have to let yourself know what you’re in for. It’s definitely not for everyone.”
One of the biggest draws for Alice, who works in a restaurant by day and uses her night-time work to fund her law degree, is the cash and the sense of camaraderie between her colleagues.
She said: “It’s just really fun. It’s a fantastic atmosphere between the girls and some of the people I work with are my best friends. We work together, we drink together, we have a good time.
“It’s a really addictive lifestyle, it’s just really fun. It’s like going out and partying except you get paid for it.
“I’m just getting paid to go out with next to nothing on, on my Saturday night.”
But working as a pole dancer does have its drawbacks, including breaking up some relationships with boyfriends.
Alice said: “I’ve had some boyfriends who wanted me to quit. They sometimes don’t really understand that it is just work for me.
“I’ve tried to give it up for boyfriends and stuff in the past but it’s just addictive, the money, the lifestyle, it’s just one big party all the time really.
“I’ve never met anyone in this job who hasn’t been 100 per cent happy.
“You also do have to work hard to earn the money. You have to be willing to talk to people and be able to have conversations with anyone.
“It is also really hard. It’s taken years and years of practice to get where I am on the pole now. You have to be really strong and fit to be able to do it well.
“It’s definitely not for everyone.”
At Dream Lounge, Alice is the House Mum, responsible for the girls’ welfare and a deputy to Sandra Rogers, who helps her husband, Peter, run the late-night venue.
Alice said: “Because I’ve been doing this for a while now I help to look after the girls, if they want advice or someone to talk to and I’m there if there’s been an issue.
“There’s very rarely any arguments but if there is I can also sit down with the girls and talk about it, and it’s just making sure they are OK.”