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History[ edit ] A depiction of a striptease  The origins of striptease as a performance art are disputed and various dates and occasions have been given from ancient Babylonia to 20th century America. The term "striptease" was first recorded in ,  though "stripping", in the sense of women removing clothing to sexually excite men, seems to go back to at least the late 19th century. At each of the seven gates, she removed an article of clothing or a piece of jewelry. As long as she remained in hell, the earth was barren. When she returned, fecundity abounded. Some believe this myth was embodied in the dance of the seven veils of Salome , who danced for King Herod , as mentioned in the New Testament in Matthew However, although the Bible records Salome's dance, the first mention of her removing seven veils occurs in Oscar Wilde 's play of 'Salome' , in In ancient Greece, the lawgiver Solon established several classes of prostitutes in the late 6th century BC. Among these classes of prostitutes were the auletrides: She was famous for her striptease performance of " Leda and the Swan ". It was, however, actively opposed by the Christian Church , which succeeded in obtaining statutes banning it in the following century. The degree to which these statutes were subsequently enforced is, of course, opened to question. What is certain is that no practice of the sort is reported in texts of the European Middle Ages. An early version of strip-tease became popular in England at the time of the Restoration. A strip tease was incorporated into the Restoration comedy The Rover , written by Aphra Behn in The stripper is a man; an English country gentleman who sensually undresses and goes to bed in a love scene. However, the scene is played for laughs; the prostitute he thinks is going to bed with him robs him, and he ends up having to crawl out of the sewer. The concept of strip-tease was also widely known, as can be seen in the reference to it in Thomas Otway 's comedy The Soldier's Fortune , where a character says: The dances of the Ghawazee in North Africa and Egypt consisted of the erotic dance of the bee performed by a woman known as Kuchuk Hanem. In this dance the performer disrobes as she searches for an imaginary bee trapped within her garments. It is likely that the women performing these dances did not do so in an indigenous context, but rather, responded to the commercial climate for this type of entertainment. In the Dance of the Seven Veils the female protagonist dances for King Herod and slowly removes her veils until she lies naked. French tradition[ edit ] Mata Hari. In this environment, an act in the s featured a woman who slowly removed her clothes in a vain search for a flea crawling on her body. The People's Almanac credits the act as the origin of modern striptease. In the s and s the famous Josephine Baker danced topless in the danse sauvage at the Folies and other such performances were provided at the Tabarin. These shows were notable for their sophisticated choreography and often dressing the girls in glitzy sequins and feathers. In his book Mythologies , semiotician Roland Barthes interpreted this Parisian striptease as a "mystifying spectacle", a "reassuring ritual" where "evil is advertised the better to impede and exorcise it". The vaudeville trapeze artist , Charmion , performed a "disrobing" act onstage as early as , which was captured in the Edison film, Trapeze Disrobing Act. Another milestone for modern American striptease is the possibly legendary show at Minsky's Burlesque in April The Night They Raided Minsky's. The Minsky brothers brought burlesque to New York's 42nd Street. However the burlesque theatres here were prohibited from having striptease performances in a legal ruling of leading to the later decline of these " grindhouses " named after the bump 'n grind entertainment on offer into venues for cinema. This eventually merged with the older tradition of burlesque dancing. The club went "bottomless" on September 3, and began the trend of explicit " full nudity " in American striptease dancing. Originally an X-rated movie theater this striptease club pioneered lap dancing in , and was a major force in popularizing it in strip clubs on a nationwide and eventually worldwide basis. To get around the prohibition the models appeared in stationary tableaux vivants. Another example of the way the shows stayed within the law was the fan dance , in which a naked dancer's body was concealed by her fans and those of her attendants, until the end of her act in when she posed nude for a brief interval whilst standing still. By the s, touring striptease acts were used to attract audiences to the dying music halls. Arthur Fox started his touring shows in and Paul Raymond started his in Paul Raymond later leased the Doric Ballroom in Soho and opened his private members club, the Raymond Revuebar in This was one of the first of the private striptease members clubs in Britain. The Windmill Theatre in In the s, changes in the law brought about a boom of strip clubs in Soho with "fully nude" dancing and audience participation. This pub striptease seems in the main to have evolved from topless go-go dancing. An interesting custom in these pubs is that the strippers walk round and collect money from the customers in a beer jug before each individual performance. This custom appears to have originated in the late s when topless go-go dancers first started collecting money from the audience as the fee for going "fully nude". During the s, Japanese "strip shows" became more sexually explicit and less dance-oriented, until they were eventually simply live sex shows. In the late 20th century, pole dancing was practised in exotic dance clubs in Canada. These clubs grew up to become a thriving sector of the economy. Canadian style pole dancing, table dancing and lap dancing , organized by multi-national corporations such as Spearmint Rhino , was exported from North America to among other countries the United Kingdom, the nations of central Europe, Russia and Australia. In London, England a raft of such so-called "lap dancing clubs" grew up in the s, featuring pole dancing on stage and private table dancing, though, despite media misrepresentation, lap-dancing in the sense of bodily contact was forbidden by law. A headlining star of a striptease show is referred to as a feature dancer, and is often a performer with credits such as contest titles or appearances in adult films or magazines. The decades-old practice continued through the late s decade to the present day with high-profile adult film performers such as Jenna Haze and Teagan Presley scheduling feature shows through the USA. In December , a Norwegian court ruled that striptease is an art form and made strip clubs exempt from value added tax. Neo-Burlesque In the latter s, a number of solo performers and dance groups emerged to create Neo-burlesque , a revival of the classic American burlesque striptease of the early half of the 20th century. New Burlesque focuses on dancing, costumes and entertainment which may include comedy and singing and generally eschews full nudity or toplessness. The Chippendales dancers are a famous group of male strippers. Male stripper Until the s, strippers in Western cultures were almost invariably female, performing to male audiences. Since then, male strippers have also become common. Before the s, dancers of both sexes appeared largely in underground clubs or as part of a theatre experience, but the practice eventually became common enough on its own. One of the better-known troupes of male strippers are the Chippendales. Male strippers have become a popular option to have at a bachelorette party. Lap dance A variation on striptease is private dancing, which often involves lap dancing or contact dancing. Here the performers, in addition to stripping for tips, also offer "private dances" which involve more attention for individual audience members. Variations include private dances like table dancing where the performer dances on or by customer's table rather than the customer being seated in a couch. Striptease and the law[ edit ] Main article: Legal status of striptease From ancient times to the present day, striptease was considered a form of public nudity and subject to legal and cultural prohibitions on moral and decency grounds. Such restrictions have been embodied in venue licensing regulations and various national and local laws, including liquor licensing restrictions. One of the more notorious local ordinances is San Diego Municipal Code Among its provisions is the "six foot rule", copied by other municipalities in requiring that dancers maintain a six-foot distance while performing. Other rules forbid "full nudity". In some parts of the USA, there are laws forbidding the exposure of female nipples, which have thus to be covered by pasties by the dancer though no such taboo applies to the exposure of male nipples. Both cities were reputed to have rampant occurrences of illicit activity linked to its striptease establishments. To keep within the law, sometimes devices were used which rotated the models without them moving themselves. Fan dances were another device used to keep performances within the law. These allowed a naked dancer's body to be concealed by her fans or those of her attendants, until the end of an act, when she posed naked for a brief interval whilst standing stock still, and the lights went out or the curtain dropped to allow her to leave the stage. Changes in the law in the s brought about a boom of strip clubs in Soho, with "fully nude" dancing and audience participation.
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