Late one night, I stepped down from what I hoped was my last stage show of the night at the strip club where I worked the closing shift. My eyes were still dazzled by the strobe lights and the fake smoke. My Red Bull had long since worn off. I was exhausted and more than ready to go home.
I opened the door to the dressing room. And became gripped by a feeling of unease. The usually bright room was dark. I could hear faint giggles coming from my spot at the makeup counter, which was around the corner and still out of sight. The disembodied voices stoked my fear, as there were no other entertainers in sight.
I recalled overhearing an earlier discussion about the haunted dressing room.
I didn’t think much of it at the time because it involved the usual ghostly tropes. Cold drafts, locker doors swinging shut on their own, and strange sniffing sound coming from behind the flimsy door of the little bathroom. But now in this darkened room, the conversation didn’t seem so silly.
Mustering up my courage, I walked toward my spot. I turned the corner, and my stomach dropped.
A strange glowing orb floated in front of the mirror. The orb had red lines running through it that all converged at a small circle in the center. This was happening right in front of my makeup case sitting on the counter. Shadowy figures emitted sinister laughter, and then to my utter horror, addressed me directly.
“Erin! You have to see this!” A woman I immediately recognized as one of my coworkers screamed.
I walked closer and saw that the lady was holding a flashlight directly under her breast. The light illuminated her saline breast implant. The result was a glowing orb, with all the veins and blood vessels clearly defined.
I started to laugh along with the five or six other dancers. We then all took turns lighting up our boobs and comparing the different effects. Silicone gel implants didn’t light up much. Neither did natural breast tissue. My own saline implants performed spectacularly, and I now have a neat trick in my bag for parties.
Every strip club has a ghost story
I spent over twenty years as a stripper. I have worked in around twenty-five to thirty clubs in five states. And every single club I have worked in has a ghost story. The Palomino Club in North Las Vegas was allegedly a mob hangout back in the day. The building’s confusing hallways and unlikely passages were according to the story, how the mobsters evaded the police during a raid. And reports of how the bodies of those who crossed the mobsters were hidden until they could be properly disposed of.
The club in New Orleans was once a brothel, now haunted by the ghosts of long-dead and vengeful prostitutes. And perhaps my favorite, the club in Reno that had been a slaughterhouse before becoming a strip club. That legend involves a former butcher who hung himself from the rafters in what is now the dressing room.
Ghost stories are fascinating. Even the really scary ones confirm the afterlife that many people, myself included, grew up believing in. In a strange way, they can be a salve for the fear of death. They tell very human stories of heartbreak, love, and revenge.
But why do strip clubs seem to all have a ghost story?
Our brains are goofy when it comes to fear. They are wired to protect us. And that means that it is or once was, advantageous to act out of caution rather than die blowing off a threat that turns out to be real.
Strip clubs are often dimly lit, with effects like fake smoke machines and mirrors, and where cigarettes are still allowed, real smoke. There are blacklights, strobe lights, and multicolored flashing lights that can warp perception. And they operate mostly at night and in older, drafty buildings that most of the time serve alcohol.
If you’re tired, dazzled by lighting, and slightly intoxicated, you just might see a ghost.
In short, strip clubs are set up to fool you. And not just to make you think that the dancer really likes you. But to trick your senses into seeing what may not be there. Your silly overprotective brain is fooled into producing the flight or fight response that is meant to save your life.
Obviously, ghost stories aren’t confined to strip clubs. Older buildings, hotels, and other locations can be set up for their own spooky hauntings. Schools, hospitals, and hotels where many people spent time often have a tragedy or incident that are fuel for a ghost story.
I spent fifteen years ghost-hunting. Mostly as a believer in the phenomenon, but some of the time as a skeptic. Once I started to research it from a scientific perspective, all my experiences were quickly debunked.
I’ll admit I was tad disappointed.
Not all is lost, however. There are still a lot of mysteries and stories around tales of haunting and local folklore to explore. Many times the reasons that these stories come into being and how they come to be believed are just as fascinating as the ghosts themselves.