As neon lights bathe the dance floor of the darkened nightclub, a group of young women from Latin America sit at tables, sipping water or soda and waiting for men to approach and hand them cash.
Women Say Dollar-Dance Clubs Have Darker Side
For $2, the women will dance one song. For $10, they will dance a set. Forty dollars buys an hour of their time.
The scene plays out in immigrant neighborhoods across New York City, providing a key source of employment for immigrant women and a haven for men seeking to stave off the loneliness of being far from home. It is a perfectly legal form of entertainment -- there is no stripping but plenty of hand-holding.
But some of the women say the clubs have a darker side. They complain about exploitative management, sexual advances from clients and even violence. A 24-year-old dancer was recently shot and killed in Queens, and one of the city's largest dollar-dance venues is now the target of a federal lawsuit.
For many dancers, the stigma of working at the clubs is the most trying problem.