The taxi dance halls raise a number of
issues, which, fortunately or not, I'll
have to leave for someone more sociologically
inclined than myself. Still, it would seem that
the most important question is, are the dance
halls a world unto themselves, or are they simply
a microcosm of the world outside? And is
there really any separation?
According to Janet, there isn 't. " Listen," she
says matter-of-factly. "The other day I went to
this restaurant in Beverly Hills to have lunch,
and the first thing you know some guy comes
up and starts hustling me." Janet emits a harsh
laugh. "It's all a gigantic hustle, inside the clubs
or out of them. It doesn't make any difference."
Well, maybe. But if that is, in fact, the case,
then is Bridgette's point of view inevitable? "I
used to have all these fantas ies, these dreams of
how life would be," she says. " But no more.
They're just gone. This is reality . . . this is how
it is. Sure, I wish I could feel young again and
have the dreams I used to but I guess I've just
seen too much. It 's shitty, but what the hell.
That's life, I guess."
Of course, there'll be those who will argue
the point. But Bridgette and Janet aren't listening.
Too many miles down the road. Where will
they wind up? It 's hard to say, reall y. But one
thing's for sure; no matter where they go after
they get too old for the dance halls, there'll be
new girls to take their place on the red naugahyde
couch, and to take part-for a few years
anyhow-in the endless one night stand of the
taxi dance world.
Inside the Flamingo, Dee sits in the dressing
room fLxing her makeup before going
out onto the dance floor. She's quit for the second
time this momh, and this i her first night
back. Though it's only been two weeks since
I've seen her, she looks somehow older.
It 's raining outside. Dee lights a smoke and
looks out the window. The red and green from
the club's neon sign blinks ofT and on in the oilslicked
"Much as I hate this place, I keep coming
back," Dee says fl atly. " I hate to adm it it, but
I guess I'm addicted. I dunno, maybe it's because
.. . well, I don't really have any friends
on the outside. At least here I'm not alone.
"The thing is, the longer you stay here, the
harder it is to quit. I guess maybe I'm stuck. It 's
not something I'd recommend to any friend of
mine. I mean, this place'll make you crazy. Any
girl that comes in here, she's got a problem. If
she don't have one when she comes, she's got
one when she leaves. See, in a funny way, the
club keeps you hoping. People work here 'cause
they need money, they need friends, they need
an old man. They need sometlti11g . . . and they
think they're gonna find it here."
Dee flips her cigarette out the window, poofs
her hai r, and gets up. "One thing's fur sure,"
she says before going out the door, "th.:n· ain't
nobody that's here just for kicks."
—Excerpt from “Private Dancers”