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Don’t got a hot date for tonight? No gallery openings to pillage for free food and booze? Has the vaunted San Miguel nightlife begun to shrink a bit for you lately? Fear not, there is a little-known yet promising alternative. A few months ago, “Alter Ego”, a female striptease club, opened in San Miguel to warm reception and quiet review. Due to local municipal laws, you won’t see any newspaper ads, gigantic highway-side billboards, or hear radio spots heralding its triumphant arrival. But if you climb into any taxi and order the driver, “Llevame al table”, you’ll be quickly whisked away to a virtual pleasure palace, only a scant 10 minute drive from El Centro.

On an average weekend night, you’ll be charged a cover of 50 pesos at the door. But the thrifty strip-clubber will quickly deduce that Wednesday nights are the preferred night out, when there is no cover, and only a minimum beverage consumption of 80 pesos per person. Roll in with your crew of three or four scalawags and order yourselves a bottle of their reasonably priced, top-shelf liquor and you’re set for the night. And once you’ve been seated by your waiter at your chosen table (mid-week also has the advantage of being less crowded than late-week) and ordered your libations—let the hedonism begin.

The club appears to be a thinly carpeted converted warehouse space, with a large oblong stage in the middle of the building, surrounded by many small tables and chairs. A Dj spins popular (and sometimes surprisingly unexpected) jams over the sound system, and you might appreciate the departure from such perennial hits as AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”, Motley Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” and Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me”. The music is only ever so briefly interrupted by the occasional PA call for one of the tardy ladies: “Tercera llamada! Tercera llamada! Tercera llamada para Am-berrrrrrr!…” And seven times out of ten, a firm yet supple, 20-something-year-old, rural Mexican hottie (no stretch marks! no tattoos!) will eventually strut out of the dressing room—fully clothed—and man her anointed position upon center stage, demanding the attention of most straying eyes.

The immediate difference I noticed between this and North American titty-bars, was that most of these girls could actually dance. Unlike some clubs that tout their “professional” dancers, here you don’t pause and wonder if the girl on stage will be covering the 5:00 am shift at the Denny’s down the street. For nothing is sadder and more depraved than the overweight and out-of-step stripper who looks as if she was denied the job as 3rd understudy on the Riverdance tour. Nor will you thankfully ever see the popular hyper-violent-epileptic-seizure-booty, which has become such a staple in some acts. But you will certainly catch the ever present and familiar scent of “Eau de Coochie”, which must be bottled and distributed by the same multi-national cosmetics conglomerate and sold in stripper merchandise catalogs the world-over.

Each girl’s well-choreographed 15-minute routine ends with her in glorious full nakedness and usually chewing at the scant scenery (two long metal poles and maybe a folding chair) as she teases, solicits and receives adulation from her usually captive audience. (My only complaint is that the girls don’t seem to appear quite as frequently as they could, and one is too often left staring at an empty stage. A minor detail that could easily be corrected.) Men will generally root and applaud in good-natured appreciation for a satisfying performance, but will rarely approach the stage. For if there is perhaps only one thing sadder than that sagging stripper with one club foot, it’s the middle-aged, beer-bellied, open-shirted, hairy-stomached, balding, fan-boy who volunteers himself to become a part of your show, by laying himself crucified upon the stage as he predictably awaits for the stripper to come by and collect the chump change from his mouth with her breasts. There is none of that here, and it’s a real credit to the club’s dignified ambience.

Sipping quietly at your drinks, you and your party will find yourselves vigorously and thoroughly attended to by the club’s courteous and persistent wait staff. And not too long after, a waitress will come by, holding what appears to be carnival tickets. She won’t guess your weight, but for 60 pesos she’ll bust out the loveliest lady of your choice, for an up-close and personal table dance, usually lasting the duration of one song. Here was the second major difference I saw between this relatively classy establishment and the typical North American cheese-ball clubs: no “dirty” money ever exchanges hands directly between you and the strippers. There is always a third party monitoring and dealing with all financial matters. Kind of like the deli cashier at Gigante. And once you’ve bought your golden ticket, it’s as if a wondrous goddess appears magically out of thin air (and of her own consenting accord) to dance for you and your droogs. Brings a whole new level of delusion to the fantasy. The girls can be quite affectionate, and may even stick around to flirt or chat, if you care to buy them drinks at 80 pesos a pop.

The third, and perhaps most poignant contrast between Mexican and lame-ass North American strip joints is Mexico’s proud and infamous hands-on approach. To Mexico’s credit, they’ve truly kept strip-clubbing a full-contact sport. Most strip clubs in the US and Canada will sick the hounds on you before the palm of your sweaty hand has left her well-vaselined butt cheek. But for this, and many other reasons, we thankfully do not live in Gringolandia. And the girls here are quite tolerant to sticky fingers, as long as they don’t roam too far or begin spelunking. And for the more timid gentleman, who seeks the intimacy and TLC of one-on-one interaction, there’s always the “private” table dance. For 120 pesos you’ll be led by the lady of your choice to a backroom where you’ll be the center of her attention and all her worldly desires—for one song. So better make it a good one. I lobbied hard for Iron Butterfly’s "Inagodavida" (clocking in at a whopping 17 minutes) but was sadly informed that the Dj did not take requests.

So if you’re searching for an escape from the usual humdrum—and looking to invest in some action that may actually yield the results you desire—I fully recommend looking no further than the only legitimate strip club in town. But only bring as much dough as you’re willing to drop, because you’ll wind up blowing it all.
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