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Concerns as strip clubs, brothels sprout up in residential areas

By Eno-Abasi Sunday, Gbenga Salau and Eseoghene Laba
20 March 2022   |   4:11 am
About five years ago, 17 Bello Street, Papa Ajao, in the Mushin area of Lagos used to be a residential structure that played home to a number of families. But after it was sold, the new owner converted it to a modest hotel.

Banners advertising stripping activities within residential areas

About five years ago, 17 Bello Street, Papa Ajao, in the Mushin area of Lagos used to be a residential structure that played home to a number of families. But after it was sold, the new owner converted it to a modest hotel.

The E-Life Hotel, which is just about two years in business, a few months ago, jolted residents of the neighbourhood with its latest offering- a night club/strippers’ club.

Curiously, while some parents and moralists expressed worries over what they consider as the “queer activity,” that is now going on within their domain, some other residents of the area are beginning to savour the new kind of adult entertainment brought to their doorstep.

Less than a seven-minute walk away from 17 Bello Street, is Ikoto Café which, in 2019, also advertised the opening of a strippers club within its facility. Even though the huge colourful banner, which bore the message was taken down barely two weeks after it was displayed, activities of strippers had since begun at the café. Incidentally, the café also has prostitutes offering their services.

Papa Ajao, Mushin is not the only area of the state that is witnessing a boom in the number of outfits that are out to feed lewd and salacious images to those that crave such. Other areas that strippers’ clubs are opening shops in residential neighbourhoods and putting on parade, scantily-clad girls to be leered at by both young and old men as they turn, twist and grind on poles include Lekki, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Oshodi, Surulere, Okota, and FESTAC among others.

There is no denying the fact that adult entertainment once seen as a Western past time is deeply permeating our environment. Consequently, sexual exploitation and objectification of women are now commonplace, while delirious watchers continually take pleasure in sipping assorted beverages beholding lingerie-wearing girls.

A strip club is a bar or club, where dancers entertain their patrons, while clad in raunchy, and seductive outfits.

Interestingly, having sex with strippers in some strip clubs is forbidden, just the same way that touching them is out of order when they are giving a lap dance, or delivering one-on-one service to customers, even though this attracts extra cost.

Across the state, strip clubs are located in both the privileged and underprivileged neighbourhoods. Some of the major ones that have been on over the years are Teazers Cabaret located at 27, Opebi Allen Road. It attracts the high and the mighty.

Another of such facility that attracts high net-worth revellers that are interested in arse watching, is Fantasy Villa Strip Club, situated at 23 Akin Osiyemi St, Omole Phase 1, Lagos.

Unique Gentlemen’s Club, which was established in 2014, is another facility that boasts a throng of daring and beautiful girls. The location and exterior of the facility betrays the nature of activities that goes on behind the scene.

As strip clubs continue to proliferate, the list of its clientele is also on the rise, as indicated by the number of young people that are showing interest in this form of entertainment.

According to Olise Uwaka, a resident of the state, “I visit strip clubs to see naked girls. It’s actually relaxing after a hard day at the office. There, I just chill, have a drink, and watch naked girls on the pole. I consider it fun to just hang out with friends and see these scantily clad, or naked women dance on the pole, give you a lap dance and other activities if you want it.”

While some detest the sight of lewd images either for religious reasons or as a result of its commodification of women, Uwaka insists that he gets his kicks from feasting on such images.

Said he: “It’s something I really like to do as a young man and even when I get old, I will still visit strip clubs occasionally as a way of escaping from the stress of life. I don’t know about others, but it’s the way I cope with stress and anxiety. It is just a form of sexual entertainment for me, and I am very comfortable visiting strip clubs, telling people about it, and what goes on there. I know Nigerians are very conservative people, but I am not a kid, so what I do with my time and money should not be anybody’s business. A strip club is like every regular club – with drinks and people catching up with life. The naked girls are just a side attraction, but if you want to do more, you can get a lap dance, I have had tons of lap dances, with the price ranging from N1, 500 to N3, 000. Running a strip club is a very lucrative business.”

Chidi Nwachikwu also enjoys the sights and sounds of strip clubs, which he has visited dozens of times.

“I have visited strip clubs more times than I can count, but never alone, always with a group of friends to just hanging out. I think visiting strip clubs is something that every young man or woman should be able to do without feeling a great sense of guilt because the facilities are not as bad as people paint them. After a while, the naked bodies just faint into the background and you start seeing it as a regular club. To just drink, enjoy the music, or even dance. I do not have a problem taking my wife or girlfriend to a strip club, in fact, I have taken my girlfriend to one and she had a lot of fun,” he concluded.

A stripper who works at a Surulere-based strip club, who simply identified herself as Khloe, said she started stripping to raise resources to fund her education.

“I am a student of Lagos State University. My stripping to fund my schooling is actually a cliché, but that is the reason I am doing it, I will stop when I graduate and get a good job. Most people call us prostitutes, but I am not a prostitute, although some strippers double as prostitutes, I don’t. I actually choose to strip instead of sleeping with random men. I know it doesn’t make much difference, but I prefer it. The strip club is not all about just seeing naked girls, it’s actually a form of entertainment and a very lucrative business if people keep their sentiments aside and invest in it. We make a lot of money from tips and other activities. Girls who engage in other sexual activities like going home with a client also make quite a lot. We also get outside gigs to strip, but we have to do it on our off days so that the management of these clubs will not find out how much that you have made and demand to share from it.”

On why some strip clubs turn back women that are unaccompanied, she said: “This is not because they see women as lesser beings, but because some strippers and prostitutes that are not working with these clubs visit some of them to ‘steal’ male visitors/clients hence unaccompanied women are disallowed entry into strip clubs.”

The desire to understand what really goes on in strip clubs is what pushed Dumkele Young, to pay a visit to one of such facilities.

She recalled: “The first time I visited a strip club was out of curiosity, and it was fun. I see strip clubs in movies and hear stories about them. So, I wanted to experience first hand, what happens in them. Till now, I still visit strip clubs from time to time because what those girls do on the pole is entertaining, fascinates me. So, I mostly go there to watch the girls dance and to enjoy my drink, and not for lap dance because I don’t like strangers touching me. However, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

“I always go with male friends because most strip clubs on the mainland and Island do not allow only women in. If you go alone they will harass you at the gate like a potential prostitute. Although entrance into most strip clubs is free, you cannot gain entry without buying something, you will be thrown out.  I am very comfortable visiting strip clubs and I’m not ashamed to say it, people can keep their judgment in their pockets. It is my choice, my money, and my life, so why should I care what people think?

For Kunle Alade, a husband and father: “Visiting the strip club is just a leisure activity for me. It is similar to going for a drink with your guys or hanging out at a club, but this time, watching the girls dance, or perform a lap dance. Averagely, a lap dance of about 10 to 15 minutes costs about N2, 000 in the general section of the strip club, but costs much more in the VIP section, which most of these clubs have.”

He added: “You will not be wrong to call most of the strippers high-class prostitutes because if the price is right, they can even go home with you. But I would not say all because I know for a fact that some of them are into this to fund their education or to raise money for other businesses because they actually have lives outside stripping. Nigerians are conservatives, but those that patronise strip clubs have the same mindset as the strippers, so why should they be hiding it.”

The father of two continued: “I am married, but I have not been to the strip club with my wife yet, but if she wants to go there, I do not have a problem with it. Actually, I have always wanted to take her with me there, but I know that what happens there is not a scene that she may appreciate or her way of having fun. All the same, she knows that I visit strip clubs occasionally.”

Ayotunde Elegbeleye, a psychologist is bothered at the rate that strip clubs are sprouting up in residential areas, which is supposed to be devoid of noise and sundry pollutants that are found in industrial or commercial areas.

According to Elegbeleye, having such outfits in residential areas robs the residence of the much-needed peace, calm, serenity, safety associated with residential areas.

“A strip club should not be set up in residential areas because by their very nature, they come with attendant issues that are not compatible with residential areas. For instance, strip clubs are sexually oriented businesses and their presence in residential areas can unduly expose residents, especially underage children to inappropriate sights and sounds.

“If for any reason they find their way into residential areas, one way to minimise the effect of undue exposure is to keep the billboards and signposts out of sight and operate clandestinely. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to happen in reality except the operators have no permit to set up in residential areas.”

She stressed the need for laws and regulations guiding the operation of sex-oriented businesses to put underage persons into consideration, and ensure that they are not allowed to access such services. But whether such laws are in place in Nigeria is a different matter altogether. I think that the most realistic way to protect underage persons in this context is to put regulations in place and enforce such.”

She added that undue exposure to sexual content can negatively influence a child in many ways, including impacting his/her emotions and thought processes negatively.

“It can affect how the mind works, how habits are shaped, while the child’s imagination is also invaded. A child may begin to view others as objects for gratification and relate with them as such, just as sex may become his/her main source of drive or fulfilment,” the psychologist added.

She disclosed that studies also show that such exposure could engender risky sexual behaviours in adulthood. “Furthermore, children exposed to strip clubs in residential areas may readily mix with the wrong crowd and engage in sexual vices, become victims of sexual violence, or perpetrators of sexual or other related crimes.”

In the view of a consultant psychiatrist and clinical psychologist, Dr. Richard Ademola Adebayo: “It is not ideal to have strip clubs in residential areas, because of the psycho-socio development of children. You do not want to bring up children in an environment that is not conducive for that purpose; an environment that has strip clubs where their activities are not monitored and supervised by government…”

Commenting specifically on the negative implication of having strip clubs in residential areas, Adebayo stated that modelling plays a very key role in the personality, behavioural and psychological development of children.

According to him, modelling in layman’s language indicates that a child may likely be influenced by the behaviours of adults in his or her environment. “For example, a child who sees people consume alcohol and smoke all kinds of substances may pick interest in also consuming alcohol, or smoking early in life. He or she would not see anything wrong in the act since adults in his environment are doing similar things.

“A child who grew up seeing his father breathing down on his mother may feel that snapping at women is the norm because that is what he has been used to. This means that he has a model of the pattern of his father.

“Having a strip club in an environment can shape and dictate how a child behaves. He may not see anything wrong with a strip club where scantly dressed girls smoke substances, dance completely nude, and abuse hard drugs. In such places, there is no control over what you can take and consume.

“When a child sees that kind of behaviour, he or she feels that it is the right thing to do, something that is in vogue. The child, apart from seeing this as modern life, also thinks that doing so is what it means to be a big guy or big girl. Consequently, the child may likely imbibe and emulate such behaviours and lifestyles. That is the modelling I am talking about.

And before these children know the implication of such lifestyles, things may have gone completely wrong. At the age of 13, 14 or 15, such children may go into doing drugs and drop out of school. Some of the children in such communities might feel that going to clubs on Friday to strip and make money is the way to go and not focusing on educational development. Sadly, that may be the beginning of prostitution.”

He said that the presence of these outfits in residential areas was because of the failure of the government to ensure that we have an environment where we can breed children to be leaders of tomorrow, and their minds will not become warp up early in life. In a typical African lifestyle, I do not think that there is room for such things to exist because the community will frown at it.

“There is something wrong in a community where anything goes, and it is the government that is at fault…We are raising a generation whose future has been compromised. And this was captured recently by the Lagos State Police Command, which said expressed fears that many Lagos youths would grow up losing their minds or having mental issues in the nearest future. And it is already happening because of uncontrolled drug usage.

The state Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako, did not pick up his calls and did not respond to text messages sent to his mobile phone regarding the proliferation of strip clubs in purely residential areas.