ARE YOU TOO OLD FOR THIS?

I Never Liked Strip Clubs, but I Finally Understand Them

Unfortunately, too many of y’all don’t

David Dennis, Jr.
LEVEL
Published in
5 min readApr 23, 2020

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Illustration: Moya Garrison-Msingwana

Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting LEVELMAN.com.

I’m 34 years old. It’s a weird age, teetering between being in touch and stuck in my ways. And I know I’m not the only one standing at the intersection of Young Buck and Old Head. Every time something comes along, whether it’s slang or pop culture or a new tech platform, you confront the same question: Am I too old for this? That’s why I’m here — to work through these conundrums on your behalf, on a weekly basis. Together, hopefully, we can face some harsh truths about our own washed-ness.

It’s been almost 13 years since my first visit to a strip club. I was 20 years old on my just-before-midnight drive to that fine Charlotte-area establishment — and a fully legal 21 when I walked in, a handful of friends with me.

This is the part where I should regale you with sensory details about the strip club. The lights, sounds, smells. But it was my 21st birthday, and I was maybe five shots of Patrón into my night. I just remember being mesmerized by a stripper’s skin being Cottonelle soft. Like a cloud. A lavender cloud. Like she’d dissolve if I poked her arm. I just remember wanting to ask her what her skincare routine was because I was so curious about how human bodies got like that. It’s quite possible I asked her these questions. I just don’t remember.

Again, Patrón.

I assume I had a great time, but I left that night feeling like I had gotten my fix of strip clubs. Part of that is because I’m one of the cheapest people you’ll ever meet. On my 21st birthday, my friends were paying for everything, but I was counting the money. Twenty bucks for a song? That’s like four Cook Out trays! Fifteen bucks for a drink? Who did they think they kidnapped, Chelsea Clinton? I just could never imagine spending that kind of money in one night.

Whether my cheapness or my over-it-ness, strip clubs in my mind became a thing you do once just to say you did it — like Disney World…

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David Dennis, Jr.
LEVEL

Level Sr. Writer covering Race, Culture, Politics, TV, Music. Previously: The Undefeated, The Atlantic, Washington Post. Forthcoming book: The Movement Made Us