Writer in Residence: Beer, Bodily fluids, and the Fires of Hell

I was mistaken for a pimp once. At the suggestion of one of the bar’s employees, I followed through on the transaction. Let’s just say that strip clubs are places where pretty much anything can and will happen.

At a time when I lived outside of the Lower Mainland, I spent a lot of time in the town’s strip joint. Affectionately known as “The Ballet”, it was one of a handful of bars within the city limits. Because it was one of only a few bars in the town, the clientele was a broad mix of just regular beer lovers (male and female) and those who were only there for the “shows.”

Having filled my boots with “the Peeler Experience” within a couple weeks of turning 19, my reason for being there was twofold, and not the obvious one either. Firstly, the booze was cheap. If you’re going to hang out writing in a bar all day, it’s nice to find a place that won’t break your bank within an hour. Secondly, the people who regularly go to bars are usually a wealth of great story ideas, strip clubs doubly so.

I’d set up shop in the corner of the smoking room (BC bars were allowed to have them at the time). I usually travelled light with just a note book and a pen. My seat always had a view of the stage but the page in front of me was my focus more than 90% of the time. Every once in a while, I’d glance the flash of something that’d catch my attention, but as with many things, the moment was always fleeting. I’d come to breathe the air, not to take in the sites.

There was once dancer I’ll always remember, most likely because she’d often come over to chat after her shows. I think my ability to concentrate increased tenfold during those conversations as she was rarely dressed. She was always curious what I was working on and I always wished I had better answers for her but we got on well. I still wonder how she’s doing these days but it isn’t one of those things you check up on.

I guess I could have written about being a pimp for half an hour (in a different bar, mind you), maybe someday I will. If we’ve ever shared a drink together you probably know the story. It’s one of many. As it is, these 500 words are just deep background, background to a story I’m getting ready to tell, even if I don’t believe half of it myself.


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