Go-go dancers reveal demands of entertainment industry
Outfitted in a matching black lingerie set with blue-laced trimmings, elbow-length gloves and knee-high platform boots, business major and go-go dancer Mel Green shimmied the night away underneath the dazzling lights at City Night’s weekly Electro Pop Rocks party.
Green began dancing in 2012 after she was scouted by a representative from the national go-go team Juicy SF. The representative initially messaged her and suggested she should audition. The same representative approached Green when she spotted her dancing on another occasion and asked her to audition, not realizing it was her.
“I was always out dancing with my friends, and they’d always joke around saying I was going to be a go-go dancer,” Green said. “It was meant to be.”
Engaged in a full class load, Green’s demanding job as a go-go dancer only allows her a limited amount of free time. However, as demanding as the job may be, she said she wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
Erica Mendez, 25-year-old go-go dancer and production manager for EPR, juggles different jobs as well. She used to be a flight attendant and said she would come straight to EPR from the airport, change as quickly as possible and head straight to the stage for a full night of dancing.
With her degree in computer science, she’s now also a technical data analyst for an airline company, building software and coding.
“Never let anyone say you can’t do everything,” Mendez said. “You can do it all.”
Former SF State student Noella Marie said she found it tough to balance her passion for dance while working and going to school, until the opportunity to audition for a resident dancer position at a popular local nightclub was presented to her in 2011.
“At this point, I was no longer dancing and was prioritizing work and school, and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to get my dancing and performing fix while still being able to make some money,” Marie said. “Little did I know that I would absolutely fall in love with it and still be so happy to be involved today.”
Green said there was a point when she was dancing three to five times a week while attending school full-time. She said she began having anxiety attacks and now only dances one to two times a week.
“It sucks, because it’s my stress reliever,” Green said. “I do this to feel good and let go.”
Green said she has the support of her friends and family, but that it hasn’t always been easy. Green said conflicts arose when she made the team.
“My mom is Filipino,” Green said. “She was raised differently. This is not how she viewed me living my life. She basically thought I was a stripper.”
It depends on how people were brought up, according to Green.
“People our age know more about it,” she said. “They understand I just want to bring smiles to people’s’ faces.”
Green participated in Beyond Wonderland Bay Area, an electronic dance festival, and called it “a real dream come true.” She was in the flower chorus and wore a sparkly dress with a huge flower on her forehead. The second day, she was a glittery bunny.
“You have to stay in character the entire time, and we did 12-hour days,” Green said. “It really pushes you beyond your limits. I didn’t know I could dance all day like that.”
Green said she feels like go-go dancing gave her confidence a huge roller coaster ride. When she first began, she said she was over the moon and couldn’t believe she was chosen for the team.
“As the years go by, my confidence level goes down,” Green said. “We’re on stage and wearing little clothing, so we have to be fit. I’ll be looking in the mirror before getting ready and say to myself, ‘OK, I’m the fat go-go tonight.’”
Putting all of that aside, she said people come up to her each night and tell her how wonderful she dances and that’s why she does it – to make people and herself happy.
“Even though I get down, I’m still progressing and learning,” Green said.
Green said she plans on having this job for as long as she can, especially after following a go-go dancing mom on Instagram, who quickly became her inspiration.
“They think we’re just girls dancing on stage,” Green said. “We take this seriously. It’s our job. It’s our passion and what we love to do.”