A Complete Moron’s Guide to Strip Club Etiquette


Going to a strip club is a complete sensory overload: between the flashing lights, the blaring music, and the thick scent of perfume -- plus, you know, the naked ladies -- it can be hard to get your bearings, let alone figure out how you should behave.

Strip club rules, unlike most dancers, tend to be a little fuzzy.That’s why we consulted Portland-based author, dancer, and general badass Elle Stanger answer a moron’s questions on basic strip club etiquette. First step: change your sweatpants.

What’s the standard tipping protocol?

Actually, some things vary widely, like tipping and touching. Check for posted rules of conduct, or ask the staff. Fun fact: in New Jersey, you are forbidden from tipping money while the strippers are on the stage. Instead, you hand cash tips to them after, when they walk around, typically stuffing the money in their top or undies. In most Portland clubs, touching is a no-no, but stage tipping is mandatory, or encouraged. Confused yet? That’s why you should ask.

Am I supposed to tip even if I’m not at the stage?

Gee whiz, it sure would be nice! In big, arena-type clubs, it might seem arduous to peel your ass from a chair, walk 10ft to the stage, and give $2 to the woman who is upside down on the stage, but it sure is the right thing to do.

Who else do I tip?

Tips are appreciated by anybody who is doing you a service. Is there a door guy at the entrance? A cocktail waitress or waiter?  Did the DJ just play your favorite song? Hook ‘em up!


Should I make requests from the DJ?

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Believe it or not, most of us don’t want to hear Puddle of Mudd’s “She Hates Me.” But go ahead and inquire with the DJ or pester your favorite naked entertainer to play Skrillex or whatever during her next stage set. One caveat: if you subject the women on stage to anything that has the words “dolla bills,” or “make it rain,” you had better be tipping generously. Nobody likes a hypocrite.

Does a private dance include a tip as well?

The flat rate of a private dance is usually the house rate, and overwhelmingly, any gratuity will be accepted graciously. There is no punch line here. Sorry.

Is it acceptable to wear sweat pants?

In the BYOB venues, yes. In places like Portland, sometimes. In the Vegas and Miami and VIP-room venues, good luck sneaking past the doorman who is wearing a suit. If you are so lazy that you don’t even own Levi’s, let’s hope you’re a big spender at the bar or at the stage.


What happens if I get aroused?

I get it: you’ve just seen and are very near to boobs. Your corpus cavernosum is engorged, trapped in your pants. I suggest that you keep your hands down and your tongue in your mouth. Heavy breathing, light moans -- those are all par for my course. Strippers are all used to clients popping boners in their chair. And the best thing to do is breathe deeply and enjoy the ride. If you feel yourself getting TOO excited, think about Paula Deen. Unless, of course, that’s your thing.

If my wife and I go in for a private dance together, do we have to pay more?

Does your wife breathe air and take up space? If she’s a real person, and not just a figment of your imagination, yes, she is a patron as well, and the cost goes up.

Should I be clapping after a song?

If it fits the mood, or you’re really feeling that “Don’t Stop Believin'’” go ahead. Who doesn’t appreciate a good audience? Just don’t overdo it and become that guy who is lip-syncing or beatboxing at the stage.


Is it appropriate to buy dancers a drink?

Yes and No. Not all of us imbibe while on the job, since 6in stilettos and pole work don’t really equate to safe working conditions. Yet some of us can’t really flex our butts to a staccato beat until we’ve had at least one tequila sunrise. Please offer, but if the dancer declines, feel free to tip her a few bucks for talking to you. Time = money, even when the seller is peddling intangibles.

What’s up with touching?


What’s your real name?

Ugh, you want to play that game? Stripper pseudonyms exist for a few reasons. One, for the dancer’s personal safety, since, as will likely be apparent in the comments of this piece, many members of the general public would love to see us harmed. (So dark!) Also, my moniker sets me apart from the other strippers on shift. How boring would it be if Stephanies, Emilys, and Sarahs surrounded you? Give me a Nadia, Fabiana, or Lux any night of the week.

Can I take a picture with you?

Maybe! Asking politely will do wonders! And as much as I love being tagged on Instagram, not all of us do. A picture says a thousand words, but one snapped without consent is actually a misdemeanor in most states, and can land you a few hundred in fines or legal fees.


How do I decline a lap dance?

“No thank you, but I appreciate your asking.” And that’s it.

What do we talk about?

Whatever you want! How much you hate your ex-wife. How concerned you are about your son’s failing grades. How you can’t wait to take your boat out. How you think Bernie Sanders is a good guy but has absolutely no chance, other than splitting the Democratic ticket. Just don’t be racist, homophobic, or misogynistic. Save that for the confession booth. Or a licensed therapist. Or your bigoted friends.

If I think your co-worker is hotter, how do I end this conversation?

“Thanks for saying hi, but I’m actually waiting for the girl with the red hair and white heels.” If the stripper is a pro, you’ve just saved you and her time and energy. Just please don’t ask me to go get her: that’s like calling Domino’s and asking for the location to Pizza Hut.

Do you love me as much as I love you? Because I love you, like, a lot.

Awwww. That’s sooooooooo sweeeeeeeeet.

I’m serious!

In truth, many of us do enjoy and appreciate the patrons who we interact with, and some of us even date, bang, or fall in love with our patrons. Me? I married one, and he’s a great father to our daughter. If the attraction is mutual, it will pan out. But unless the stripper indicates an outside, non-money-motivated relationship, it’s safe to assume that your infatuation should remain inside the club walls.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Elle Stanger is a mother, stripper, feminist, activist, non-monogamous wife, and author who entertains the masses in Portland, OR. She holds two university degrees, neither of which she utilizes in a conventional fashion. She prefers organic food, dark beer, and self-actualized individuals. Don’t ask her about her tattoos; she’s run out of clever retorts. Find her online at EroticMusePDX.com.