Zappa says that talking about music is like dancing about architecture. What few people realize is that normally I AM dancing about architecture, so I’m going to give the talking about music thing a shot.
Hi. My name is Lydia, and I’m from the Midwest. I’ve been honing my music folder in the same club for eight years and a few weeks. By the end of my first night my manager had nixed all instrumental music from my auditory arsenal forever (goodbye Amon Tobin). By the end of the first week I’d learned the hard way that Iggy’s “I Wanna Be Your Dog” was out too. In fact, anything produced and recorded in a manner that didn’t take up enough sound space was out (I still love you, Violent Femmes). Bass. Drums. In my manager’s words: stuff guys recognize, stuff they can sing along to. I spent some time fighting that, a lot of time dancing to “#1 Crush,” and a lot of time being completely fucking confused about how to bring my idea of music for a perfect strip club and the perfect music for my strip club together in a happy marriage of loving-the-one-you’re-with.
A typical night for me, then, sounds something like this:
Portishead, “Glory Box” and “Sour Times”
The beginning of the night is the time for any slow, sensual, thoughtful songs I want to get out of my system, which is, on a typical evening, a set of Portishead.This torch was passed to me, it’ll be mine until I quit, and it’ll be a torch then. Classic, vintage strip club music, they pretty much do all of the sexy work for me, indicating to all of the single, older gentlemen in the crowd that not only am I A woman, I am THE woman. Coupled with a shiny gown of some sort, and I normally hit the ground stiletto running (which, if you’re wondering, is something most dancers are pretty good at). Added bonus: As long as “Glory Box” has been around, been getting action in strip clubs, the line “I’ve been a temptress too long” hits home. I am, and I have been, too.
Kid Cudi, “Pursuit of Happiness,” and Lykke Li, “Youth Knows No Pain”
Hopefully by this time I have some money under my thong, and a little bit of whiskey in my system. I want to give a little more, but like a good set of private dances, the whole evening will be some slow crescendo into never actually giving anyone exactly what they want. Keep them coming back, not coming. The synth in “Pursuit of Happiness” just dragggggs, rich with slow, drawn-out, over-emphasized writhing. Once again, a song that does my job for me. Added bonus: The line “People tell me slow my roll, I’m screaming out: Fuck that”? They do, and I am.
Jace Everett, Bad Things, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Rich”
Normally, it literally causes me physical pain to be associated with anything country, but this song gets some play by way of True Blood. I was horrified the first time I danced to it (also the first time I’d given the whole song a listen) but it’s been quoted back to me by enough men to mean it’s working. If there’s enough sets in the night, which on this fictional night there are, I’ll throw it in. Having done so, I have to pair it with a song that’s a little rock ‘n’ roll, so anything by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs follows. “Rich”? Yes please. As far as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are concerned, I liked them before I started really considering them for work. When I did, I realized that they are in fact geniuses.
The Black Keys, “Howlin’ For You” and Evil Nine featuring El P, “All the Cash” (Glitch Mob remix)
At this point, I’m sweaty. I’ve lightly dusted a few men as disco balls. I need something harder, and so do you. Having all shown up to the party, it’s time to be honest about why we’re all here: to disappear, to get dirty, to have FUN. Even the customers who haven’t heard them pretty much immediately understand that that’s what The Black Keys came to do, too. All The Cash is almost a challenge. Try me. Let’s see how much money it takes.
Major Lazer, “Hold The Line,” and the Ting Tings, “That’s Not My Name”
A little before my last set, I’m standing by the remnant of the topless, liquor serving bar. I have one leg up, straight out on the bar, and my face is beside my knee, stretching. After that, maybe I pull my leg behind me and up over my head. Then maybe I do the other leg. The whole time, pretending not to notice anyone who may be noticing, but the thing is, I want to make an entrance for this song. I want to have already gotten their attention by the time the spaghetti western riff starts twanging. I can read on their faces that they’re wondering what the hell I’m dancing to, and I’m secretly pretending I’m the horse making the clumping sounds (our secret, k?) They’re wondering what this crazy shit is, and have no idea what’s about to hit them.
I often think about my spine as the string, my hips and ass as the yo yo. The perfect song just kind of dangles my lower body from the line, in some bobbing, sexy, insistent, persistent sex of a song. This is one of them. The Ting Tings ARE a party, and let’s face it, Lydia isn’t really my name, either. Again, an added communication bonus.
Lydia blogs at estringsgstrings.tumblr.com