Rose Tyler had been out of a job for ages, ever since the store she worked in got blown up she had drifted from one dead-end job to another in quick succession and was tired of having no money and now no boyfriend and still living thankfully with her mother. Goodness knows what she would have done on her own.
She was out window shopping and job hunting one day when she saw a group of girls, well young women having fun looking in a store window and pointing to outfits she hadn't even dreamt of ever owning, even second-hand and decided to follow them, keeping her distance, of course but they were making a lot of excited noise and trying outfits on and throwing them at each other then over the dressing room doors, then all laughing as they went to pay for them.
She followed them to the store café and bought herself a cup of their over-priced latte and sat down, thinking where to go to next to see if anyone was advertising a job. The girls she had followed were sat over by the window, admiring each other's purchases and she supposed they hadn't even bothered looking at the price tags.
She was about to leave when she saw the girls huddled together and one of the girls got up and came in her direction. Panicking, she thought she was going to get picked on for following them throughout the store and were all about to beat her up if she went to the ladies room, instead, the Asian-Oriental girl sat down opposite her and put a business card on the table. Rose was about to get up, abandoning her drink but the girl put her hand on top of hers.
"It's ok, we saw you follow us in, we're not mad at you but we thought you looked rather jealous. Looking for a job?"
Rose managed to nod. "We all work at 'Pinkie's' have you heard of it?"
''No, should I? I can't exactly afford to go to clubs.''
The woman smiled, looking back at her friends, who were watching.
"Believe me love, you wouldn't be going there, unless you were a bloke. My name's Tosh and my friends and I are all dancers, of the exotic kind. I know what you're thinking but it's not as bad as it sounds, really and as you can see, we make some serious cash plus you get to keep all the tips you make and we don't dance all the time, we do other things like just sitting around looking pretty and take the odd turn in carrying drinks. Why don't you go along, ask for Donna? She runs the place for a guy who's never there. She'll be there from four this afternoon, we have an opening, a girl just left and she's not been replaced yet, it's not everyone's cup of tea. Gwen just left to get married."
Rose took the card that had 'Pinkie's Exotic Dance Club,' Manager D. Noble, an address and a phone number.
"That's just for punters who leave their car keys, mobile phones and even their wallets and other assorted male items. I heard a guy lost his wig in there."
Rose could see the other girls laughing. She longed to be able to laugh again and have some fun and it sounded like it wasn't all that bad but her mother would never buy it. If she went along, just to see, it would be a miracle if she actually got the job though she did like to dance rather sexily in the shower, not that she would admit it to anyone while singing 'Do ya think I'm sexy' and other provocative songs when her mother was out somewhere.
"Thanks Tosh, I'm Rose. Is it difficult to get an interview?"
The girls were laughing. Tosh moved over to her side of the table. "No, just wiggle your bum and flash your eyelids at the punters, well that and other parts of your anatomy men usually like to stare at. Don't worry, they're not allowed to touch you, there are bouncers all around the main stage. There are different things going on. What have you got to lose?"
Rose was about to say her dignity but she had lost that when she lost her job. "Ok, I'll give it a go. If it doesn't work out, at least I can say I tried."
Tosh looked pleased with herself. "Great, might see you tonight then, Donna will look after you, she'll start you on something easy. We start work at eight until twelve and two hours in the afternoon once a week for practising new routines. I won't tell you how much you can earn, the rates vary depending on what Donna has you doing but like I say, you get to keep all your tips so it's down to you."
"How long have you been working there?"
"Five years now, we love it. Had plenty of other offers but most of us stay, I've been there the longest. It beats a 9-5 job any day."
Rose thanked her and put the card in her pocket. She knew where the street was, just out of the town centre, not somewhere she would like to go on her own at night but she supposed the club would look after the girls and make sure they stayed safe, it wouldn't look good replacing the dancers every week. The rest of the girls got up and one by one passed her table saying "good luck Rose" to her.
She went home and rummaged through her sparse wardrobe, finding her best dress and supposed she might be given something to wear then thought maybe not, exotic was just a fancy name for semi-naked.
"Mum, I'm going out again. I met some girls that work at a bar and they said there was a job going there. They give you full training."
"Oh, you haven't tried bar work yet have you? You make good money working in a bar."
"Well it's a club really, it's behind the bar and taking drinks to tables. Should be easy enough. If I get it, I might get to start tonight so don't wait up. I'll call you but I may have time to come back first, I don't know."
"Ok Sweetheart, hope you get it then, I hate seeing you like this, staying at home all the time when you should be out having a good time."
She kissed her mother's cheek, hating not telling her the whole truth but hopefully she wouldn't find out, well not unless someone who knew her went in there but she doubted any man she knew had the money to even step foot inside the place. She picked up her keys and crossed her fingers. Finding the street but the entrance seemed locked up, she looked around. It was after four, she hoped the girls had not just been winding her up and it was a strip joint or something worse with 100's of dirty old men leering at girls. She heard a noise from a side door and looked around a corner into a narrow alleyway just wide enough for a car.
A woman with red hair, a bit older than herself was taking some boxes out of the back of a car and was having trouble closing the boot. Rose dashed over.
"Hi, do you need any help?"
The woman tried to turn around. "If you're looking to grab these boxes and run darling, don't bother. I can run faster than you."
"Sorry, that wasn't my intention. Someone gave me one of your cards, a woman called Tosh, she said you may have a job."
The woman turned around and held the boxes out to Rose, remotely locking the car. "Well don't just stand there, bring them inside. Honestly, I don't know where Tosh gets these ideas. Have you any idea what goes on here?"
Rose shook her head and followed the woman inside, still holding the boxes that were making her arms ache. If this was Donna, she was making no effort to introduce herself nor any offer for her to put the boxes down or take them from her. Donna walked behind the bar.
"Put them on there. What's your name then?" she asked, looking Rose up and down.
"Rose Tyler. Are you Donna?"
The woman laughed. "Well I'm not Pinkie, that's for sure. Well let me explain petal, we are an exotic dance club where the punters come to see you dancing on that small stage over there wearing just a skimpy costume. Then there's the swing." She pointed across the room to a swing covered in yellow plastic flowers.
"You get hoisted up there and swing backwards and forwards for half an hour at a time, half an hour off, showing your bum, same costume and you can be as creative as you want, the more creative, the better they like it. The punters stand on the chairs and try to get money in your garter as you start to swing or pass them slowly, it's basically like playing a game to them, it keeps them amused so slow down every so often. Then there's the golden cage."
Rose thought it may as well be the chamber of horrors, to be on display, swinging above some tables with men sat underneath and she shuddered to think what you did in the cage. Donna saw her face and burst out laughing.
"You're a bit green luv. Want to give it a go?"
"Do you have any bar jobs?"
Donna spluttered. "No, sorry luv, all the bar jobs are taken but I can start you in the cage. You just sit on the chair for an hour, take a break then go back. You just get up, walk around, change position, look sexy, they love it, same costume again. They give you money luv, you wear a garter on your leg again and they stuff money in it, don't let them give you any fivers, push their hands away, they'll come back with a twenty. They're only allowed to tuck the money into the garter, if they take too long, you slap their hand and their mates laugh, if they go back or fight you, my bouncers throw them out. Same goes for dancing. Any questions?"
She had. "So just to make it clear, I get to keep the tips, do I get a regular wage or is that it?"
Donna laughed again. "Are you for real? Blimey, Tosh really got me this time but you're pretty. Let me tell you again. You get paid 100 quid a night for dancing and plus tips, that's all you do, dance all night and there are two other dancers, you take it in turns. If you're in the cage or on the swing, you get 75 quid a night plus tips. That's your take home, we do the books and employ you and you work four nights week, eight until twelve and we book you a taxi home, comes out of your pay but you make up for that in tips. So do you want in?"
Rose did the sums, 300 or 400 quid for four nights work plus tips, was she that fussy men would be looking at her? She put on her best smile, held out her hand and said "Maybe."
Donna shook her hand. "You can start tonight in the cage, see how you go. You get a dressing room you share with another girl but don't leave your personal stuff or any money. There's Jerry and Mick around the back, they keep men from coming backstage and pestering you and see you out to your taxi every night and one more thing, boyfriends stay outside unless they pay to come in and leave you tips, no sneaking them in."
"Haven't got one. Where do I keep my personal stuff then?"
"Lockers, I'll give you a key. You get a silk dressing gown to wear going on stage, you put it over the back of the chair, then put it back on as sexy as you can when you go off, you're still on show, don't disappoint them when you're entering or leaving or they won't give you tips. If you're dancing, they're allowed to put £50 notes, if they come on stage waving one, on the hips of your g-string but a bouncer will come on stage with them and believe me, they've broken a few fingers and noses of the punters who linger too long, you're perfectly safe up there."
"So do I keep any money I make in my locker, is it ok there?"
Donna laughed again, she was liking this girl, she was smart and asked a lot of questions.
"Rose, the girls all get good money, they don't steal from each other, it's just a precaution but we have to declare some tips so you may get asked to pay something extra at the end of the tax year but it's just the minimum. The girls will show you the ropes back stage. If boyfriends do turn up, they have to wait outside or see Mick or Jerry, it's their call, I know they take bribes from punters, they think I've not figured that one out. If a girl says no to entertaining them backstage, they go, whether they've paid or not, that's the altered rules. I let it slide, it keeps everyone happy, a punter might want to try his luck with one of the girls, if they want to waste their money, who am I to stop them?"
Rose was warming up to the idea. If she could stick at it for while, make some money to get a place of her own and have some nice clothes, she could live with it.
"Yeah, I'm in, when can I start?"