Health

HEALTH

Staying healthy is important for anyone, but dancing can be especially hard on the body. If we’re not healthy, we can’t keep working. Dancers may be good at taking care of others, but we also have to take care of ourselves.

Sometimes people delay taking care of their health because they worry about the expense, but there are free and affordable options in New York City.

Breast Care

Taking care of your breasts should include regular self-exams, clinical exams given by your doctor, and mammograms if you are over the age of 40.

If you have breast implants they require a little extra attention, so check them regularly. Also, learn the origin of your implants in case of accidental leaking.

Condoms and Oral Sex

Oral sex is low risk for HIV infection, but STDs like gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and herpes can be transmitted this way. Many of these infections are easily diagnosed with simple tests, and can be treated with available medications.

To keep from catching an STD, use a condom, or try a flavored condom for maximum pleasure. Or you can use a dental dam or saran wrap for oral sex on a woman.

If you’re concerned you’ve gotten burned, check out our resources section to find a place to get tested that’s affordable and sensitive.

If you’re having sex, the best way to keep safe from HIV and STDs is condoms. Condoms are safe if used correctly. To assure safety, first check the expiration date on the condom pack, then open the pack from one side and take out the condom. Hold the tip so that you can have a little space. Roll the condom onto the penis. If the condom does not fit, or he or she thinks that there is just no feeling, add a little lube to the inside of the condom before putting it on. Putting lube on the outside of the condom can also help with comfort and safety. There are many different kinds of condoms in all shapes and sizes, including the female condom.

Check out the Resources section for places to get free condoms and lube.

HIV Testing

If you’re not using condoms, it’s a good idea for you and your partners to get tested every three to six months. We know that testing can be scary…but it’s an excellent way to take care of yourself.

HIV testing can be free, easy, confidential, and anonymous. Today, an oral test is used instead of needles, and you don’t have to give your name. Before you are tested, you can talk to someone who is there to help you. There are many HIV testing counselors who care and are concerned. Although there is no cure, if you test positive, new treatments and services can help you live a long and healthy life. Treatments for HIV/AIDS can be free. Check out the Resources section.

Nutrition

This section is excerpted from an article by Catherine Plato, published in $pread magazine, issue 4.2.

As dancers, our jobs can be incredibly physically demanding. We often end up working long, weird hours in tall, weird shoes. Staying awake all night and providing service with a smile can be tough. How do we do it? There are, of course, the old stereotypical industry standbys (cocaine, tequila) or the college student staples (coffee, red bull), but all are problematic with long-term use and can leave you feeling skittish and sleepless by the end of your shift.

Here are a few nutrition tips for taking care of your body and maintaining your energy levels on the job:

● Have a filling meal before your shift, but be sure to avoid refined sugars, candy bars, and energy drinks. Caffeine and sugar give you quick energy, but they fade just as fast! Peanut butter, lean meat, fresh fruit and veggies, and whole grains are always a good choice.

● Keep healthy snacks stocked in your locker or work bag – dried fruits and bottled water are some dancer favorites.

● Though it’s easy to run low on energy at work, avoid cocaine, alcohol, and energy drinks when possible. They are short-term fixes with many long-term downsides.

● Drink lots of water! It keeps you full, keeps your skin clear, and (if you’re drinking) helps prevent a hangover.

Think of yourself as an athlete – your job is not just dancing, but pulling long hours on your feet, keeping a positive attitude, radiating great skin and hair. It’s impossible to do these things without maintaining your personal well being. Your body is one of your most important investments – treat it well!

Hygiene

Because of the kind of work we do, we come into a lot of physical contact with different people. We all have moments when we’ve been grossed out, whether it’s the guy with the bad breath, the guy who looks like he hasn’t showered, or the guy who wants to put his mouth all over you. You may be wondering how clean the pole is, what those stains in the champagne room are, or why there are so many rats running around under the bar.

It’s easy to become desensitized to working in these conditions, but it’s important to manage your personal hygiene at work. If your dressing room doesn’t have hand sanitizer or baby wipes, you might want to bring your own.

Drugs and Alcohol

A strip club is a place where there is often a lot of alcohol and drugs around, and some clubs even give you commission on alcoholic drinks or expect you to use drugs in champagne room. Sometimes it’s fun to have a buzz at work — and it may help you make money. But in this party atmosphere it can be hard to set limits.

For many dancers, drinking and using drugs are under control, but sometimes things can get out of hand. Sometime when you’re drunk or high, your judgment can become cloudy. You may be less likely to have safer sex. It can also be harder to defend yourself against an attack or sexual assault.

Here are some tips for keeping your drug and alcohol use under control:

● Plan ahead. Decide on your limit before you start drinking.

● Never leave home without a car service number in case you find yourself too drunk too take the subway or drive.

● Always carry condoms and lube, just in case.

● On days when you don’t want to drink, arrange with the bartender to give you soda instead of alcohol. The customer doesn’t even need to know.

“I never drink at work. The bartender knows that “vodka soda” is just soda. It’s nice because I get a drink commission without having to get drunk—and the bar makes money off me too. Also, it’s a zero calorie drink!” – Honey

“I worked when I was pregnant so I couldn’t really drink. It was hard sometimes, but the customers usually didn’t even notice. One night a customer bought me 28 glasses of champagne! He didn’t even notice I wasn’t drinking them because he was so drunk!” – Josie

If you want to cut back but feel you can’t, get some confidential help from one of the groups or counselors in the Resource section. Everybody needs a little help every now and then, and there is no shame in that.