She sticks her butt out into the center of the room to demonstrate, shaking it, rubbing her hands on her thighs. Her black velvet dress slides up higher and higher until her shimmery yellow panties peek out for everyone to see. Her spine moves up and down, up and down in a snakelike motion, smooth, fluid, repetitive.
“Imagine you are trying to separate their T-shirt from their jeans. Your butt is working it; you’re having sexual contact with somebody. You cannot have too many head flips.”
The other women in the room bend over to practice, their asses flowing like summertime Atlantic Ocean waves, soft and hypnotizing.
Watching their smiles, their long over-the-shoulder looks, their hair falling down the back of the chair, I begin to realize why men are willing to pay $50 to have a woman dance in their laps for five minutes.
Just off Fillmore Street is the studio room of Slinky Productions, a company that specializes in erotic dance instruction. Upon ringing the bell, we were greeted by a small, thin woman with brown hair and blue extensions, wearing dark-rimmed glasses like a sexy librarian. This is Catherine Rose, the antithesis of the blonde, busty, heavily made-up stripper. She did exotic dancing for eight years in New York, Canada and San Francisco, and now makes a living teaching other people how to dance in a way that makes hearts pound and blood flow.
Pushing aside a beaded curtain, we step into a space that resembles a doctor’s office waiting room - except the chairs are laid out in a semi-circle and the only decorations are full-length mirrors reflecting rose-colored carpet. In a few minutes, the plain, sturdy, wooden chairs will hold the quivering, gyrating bodies of five women learning how to give a lap dance.
Rose chats with the students as she straps on her huge black high heels and adjusts the stereo. According to Rose, erotic dancing sparks women’s curiosity by being something that is intriguing, semi-naughty, and a way to explore the relationship between their bodies and their sexuality. The classes, which range from pole dancing to striptease, give women a feeling of confidence, a sense that their movements carry sexual power.
“People really wanted someone to teach them sexy dancing,” explains Rose, who created Slinky Productions six years ago because people kept clamoring for lessons. “I was the first person to bring it out of strip clubs and bring it out as a class.”
The students filter in wearing “comfortable, sexy clothing,” which is mainly tank tops and exercise pants. Excitement and the smell of Altoids hang in the air. Two friends, Monica Tan and Robin Clawson, took Rose’s four-hour exotic dancing class and enjoyed it so much that they decided to give lap dancing a try. Another student, Lena Chang, who does jazz and ballet dancing as well, says that this class is a birthday treat for herself.
“I’m doing it for my own personal fun,” she says.
No one brought a feather boa, so Rose has to dig out a few from her supply drawer. She breaks down the science of lap dancing into five follow-along steps, giving off the vibe of a sassy aerobics instructor.
She shows how to do a move, sensually spreading her legs across a student and performing a short dance.
“It is really fun to know these skills,” she says. “You don’t need a lot of technique, but you might need a shot of something. And you’ll never be short of volunteers.”
The women partner up with one person sitting on the chair while the other performs. There is a lot of fumbling and giggling in the beginning as they drape their breasts across each other and bend forward in full pin-up girl poses.
“I thought it would be something fun to do,” said Janet, a first-time student, who asked that only her first name be used. “I thought it would add spice to my life.”
Rose explains how to stand properly, and how to do a “little Marilyn Monroe move” that copies the playful hip wiggle that made Norma Jean a superstar. The key to lap dancing is how you support your weight on the chair. Higher chair backs give dancers the opportunity to try difficult positions, like open-legged poses, where the dancer needs to have both hands on the chair back in order to keep her butt moving in an easy, sexy rhythm.
“Lap dancing is a power dynamic,” Rose says matter-of–factly. “The person giving the dance dictates how the dance will go. Everything about it is up to the dancer. You get to shape that dance.”
There is more to lap dancing than just writhing on someone’s crotch. The hair flip comes into play as a time filler, while the dancer readjusts her stance or balance. Moves change every 10 seconds or so, to keep things interesting. The dance opens with an invitation built up on eye contact. It then proceeds to a sensual caress or cleavage show, where the girls dangle their breasts inches from the recipient’s forehead and then slowly slide them down, rubbing the recipient’s neck and shoulders.
“The key is going slow, slide in, breathe slow,” Rose says. “Milk every move, every nuance. Lap dancing is also partially figuring out how bodies fit together.”
The dance works its way up from spicy to steamy to red-hot. The girls adjust the position of their legs to give the recipient maximum contact, even while fully clothed.
“That is definitely the right place!” Tan says, as Clawson rolls her butt from side to side over Tan’s hipbone.
The giggling among the students has all but stopped now, and they go through the motions with serious intent. Each one of them captures the oozing movement that Rose was trying to describe at the beginning of class. Hair flips have been perfected, and the energy in the room is running high. She gives them a homework assignment to give someone a dance tonight.
“Go forth and practice,” she says with a laugh.
The women file out, chatting about where to buy five-inch heels and glittery tops while Rose collects the abandoned feather boas. It seemed to end so quickly, just when things were getting fun. Which, after all, is the point of a lap dance. It is a tease, a taste of forbidden fruit, but not the whole apple.
“You end with, ‘Bye, come see me again’,” Rose explains. “The dance is as long as you want it to be.”
[Lap dance classes are $55 per person or $100 a couple. More info is at www.slinkyproductions.com]