But I was sooo shy!
I was a bit disappointed on the first day in Washington D.C. I had expected tall buildings, skyscrapers, in the city. No, they were not there and I soon realized the secret. The law of the city bars anyone making a building taller than the Washington monument which is 555ft/169m tall.
But the very first night in D.C. was beyond my expectation. It was a surprise night, I conclude. We had arrived in the city at around 7 PM (April 1) and by 10 PM I found myself in a strip bar where naked girls were happily dancing turn by turn in front of a crowd overwhelmingly dominated by men. A friend of mine in D.C., a Nepali who is in a similar profession like mine, was kind enough to take me (and another friend) in the bar. That was a surprise for me. We had told our friend to take us to any interesting place in D.C. and there we were. Right in front of the girls.
OUTSIDE the bar: DW in Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles Pic by Shaiq Hussain
Yes, the passport was needed but not for immigration or anything like that. They just wanted to make sure that I was 18 years or older. We met a group of boys and girls at the gate who were getting out of the place. We let them get out and entered. “Thanks,” a boy from the group said. “Enjoy the night.” Within the first minute of entering inside the club, I found myself in an uneasy position. Initially, I was shocked to see naked girls but I tried myself very hard not to reveal that expression. I wanted to act like a normal boy. Folks were enjoying but the place wasn’t really interesting and entertaining for me. Wait, I am not being idealistic here. I mean I can be a naughty boy but it didn’t take me much time to realize that the place wasn’t for me. My friends ordered beer for themselves where as I got a bottle of non-alcoholic drink. (I don’t smoke and drink alcohol for some strange reasons that are unknown to me.)
After about 10 minutes of watching people entertained by the girls stripping in front of them, I really felt like getting out of the place. The music was loud and I had to scream at my friends to make my voice heard. “Let’s go out,” I said to my friend who was seated on my side. Then he passed my message to our friend who actually took us there. “It’s not entertaining for me.” They wanted to finish the drink (I couldn’t even drink the liquid, that wasn’t tasty too). We kept watching the dance.
“But thank you very much for brining me here,” I continued after getting out of the place and walking on the cool street of downtown D.C. “At least I got a chance to see a strip bar. Even if I didn’t like it, it was necessary for me to see and have the experience of being inside it. And I appreciate those girls and the customers. But this is not a place to visit twice and I will not come here again.” And I never went back. I will not go back.
(Oh…by the way, let me quickly clarify that this Strip Bar visit wasn’t part of my official program IVLP which was organized by the US State Department in collaboration with different Universities. It was personal visit, I should say, about which the Department folks weren’t aware of, I think. So what? The program was also about the cultural exchange!)
As we were approaching the hotel, I again thanked my friend for taking me there. My point was that the girls were too naked. There was action, as a copycat song created by MTV India is saying while I am typing these lines (June 1st), but emotion was lacking! (Action toh hey… per emotion nahin) There was no eroticism, there was no feeling whatsoever. It is not that I don’t like girls. I like but what’s the attraction when you see the whole thing at once and there is nothing hidden inside. Girls were naked, plain and simple, and they dancing like a machine or an automated robot programmed for certain sequences. The only piece of cloth, if I can use such term in this sentence, that they were wearing was a small elastic rope tied on their lower thigh. Why? This is interesting.
The ‘connoisseurs’ of strip dance would go near the girl on the stage and, after watching her for about a minute (or two) from very near (about 20 cm, I guess), they would insert a dollar bill in that elastic rope. Good thing about the dace and the show was that the ‘connoisseurs’ didn’t touch the girls and the girls were damn happy to serve their customers. So the whole show, it appeared, was professionally managed and well executed! After finishing the show (one dance sequence lasted for about 7 minutes, I think), the girl would start serving food (mainly drinks) and collect tips from the people on the tables. One big girl came to our table asking if we wanted additional drinks. I don’t know how much my friend tipped the girl but I was even afraid to see at her face directly.
Well, you can say that was a real taste of cultural shock that I was experienced within hours of landing in Washington D.C.
When I told about my strip bar visit to some people, including two American girls, they were kind of shocked. No, boys weren’t shocked. They wanted me to take them there. “What?” a girl responded. “Are you saying that you went to the strip bar?” Yes, she couldn’t believe. And continue asking: “Who took you there?” Hum, a million dollar question, I told myself.