So, you want to see some breasts. Nothing wrong with that. Where in Wellington should you go to see them? For the purposes of scientific research, we headed to Dream Girls and Mermaids to find out what you can expect. We also had a chat to a girl who’s worked in both places for the inside goss.

First though, let’s brush up on your strip club etiquette.

  1. When a girl finishes dancing on stage, she’ll come around the room to collect tips. She may even give you a little dance on your table. If you want to tip her, get her attention politely, and tuck your Mermaids/Dreamgirls dollars into whatever she indicates – her g-string or her garter. Yes, you can hold the dollars between your teeth and she might pick it up with her boobs. No, there is no other touching at this stage.
  2. If you buy a private lapdance, there might be touching, or there might not. Our dancer friend says “Places have different rules, mermaids generally during VIP you can touch, and Dreamgirls depends on the individual dancer”.  As with any other human being, you want to make sure that you ask before you touch, and respect their boundaries. But you know that, right?
  3. A lot of the dancers are students, or travelers. Some of them are professional strippers. Neither lifestyle is more or less valid than yours.
  4. Just because a girl is dancing in a strip club, and there is a brothel upstairs, does not mean that you can pay her for sex.

Mermaids is the big shiny place on Courtenay Place with the red carpet outside, and the terrible music blaring out. If you’ve seen the ads on the television for the Auckland branch, you might be expecting there to be a tank with girls swimming in it. You’re going to be disappointed in that case. Instead, there’s a central catwalk housing a couple of poles, with stools all around it, and around the edges of the room there are booths with tables with poles. Let me tell you this now: the ladies’ toilets are faaaaaaaancy. So are the back rooms where you go for the private lap dances. I’d actually like to throw a party in the back room with its starry-ceilinged courtyard and curtained-offed areas, even if there weren’t topless women gyrating on my lap. The central stage though is a bit more like a pit as it’s set down from the stools, and that didn’t sit well with the feminist in me.

Dreamgirls down the road on Dixon Street is much less fancy with its fitout, but the stage is raised, which makes me happier. The backrooms are not fancy at all, and the women’s bathroom is pretty crappy. However, at Mermaids, the cheapest bottle of wine is $500. Yes, you heard me. Fucking insane. You can buy crappy overly sweet bubbles for $50 at Dreamgirls. The admission price to Mermaids is usually $20 for guys, but entry to Dreamgirls seems to be free.

As for the girls themselves, from one visit to each bar, my impression was the girls at Mermaids are more “professional” – expect to see more pole tricks and less laughing – but that might have been because we were at Dreamgirls early on a Wednesday, and late on a Friday (peak time) at Mermaids. Also, the girls at Mermaids don’t get fully naked – g-strings have to stay on. On the whole, I’d say Dreamgirls is a more fun experience, possibly because it feels slightly seedier, but the management are nicer. Either way, I highly recommend you find yourself a friend who likes buying you lapdances before you visit either place, since they’re $180 per half hour at Dreamgirls and god only knows how much they cost at Mermaids.

[Photo by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash]