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Title: Erotic dancing in night-time leisure venues : a sociological study of erotic dance performers and customers
Author: Pilcher, Katy Elizabeth Mary
ISNI:       0000 0004 2748 6354
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis explores the gender and sexual politics of erotic dance, through an ethnographic investigation of two leisure venues which provide erotic dance entertainment for women audiences in the UK. Using the research techniques of participant observation, qualitative interviews, visual methods, email interviews and internet research, this thesis examines the work roles of women and men dancers, and the interactions of women customers with dancers. In taking both a lesbian leisure venue and a male strip show for analysis, this thesis goes further than previous academic studies which often equate erotic dance with a male clientele base and women performers. The key findings of the thesis are related to three central themes. These are, firstly, the defining of both of the venues as a ‘women-only’ space by customers, and the ways in which this simultaneously both challenges and reproduces heteronormativity. Secondly, findings in both venues point to evidence of an erotic female ‘gaze’ being exercised by women customers. Yet I highlight how this is at times couched in problematic post-feminist conceptions of sexual agency, and further, how some customers articulated a critique of ‘gazing’ as objectifying erotic dancers. I argue that male dancers do not take on a ‘sex object’ role, and suggest that women dancers are able to exercise a gaze directed at women customers in some instances. The third key finding, evident in dancers’ accounts of their working experiences, suggests that their work practices are in many ways similar to concepts of work that are used to discuss service sector labour. I argue that the particular spaces in which dancers work is crucial to their capacity to exercise autonomy in their work role. Overall, the thesis develops a more complex analysis of participants’ engagement with erotic dance venues, highlighting the tensions around exercising agency in commercial sexual encounters.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (Great Britain) (ESRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HM Sociology ; PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater