Across most of the US, dancers are still categorized as independent contractors, and have a lot of choice over if and how much to tip their support staff. I believe that being a consistent and good tipper is an investment in your club, your staff, and your business; and that when combined with a positive attitude and a willingness to be a hard worker, it can do more for you than almost any other income earning strategy.
I'll rinse and repeat: Voluntarily and heartily tipping members of your staff in a strategic way that improves your day-to-day work life can make a major change in how you earn income.
---Let me qualify everything else I will say here with the addendum that your money is yours. If you earned it, there shouldn't be a manager or a team in your staff that is forcing you to give them a share. While there are many places where management could find shady ways to take parts of what you make, if someone is taking a substantial amount of your income without helping to give you opportunities or is targeting you over other dancers as someone to extort, then your time will be better spent at a club where you are respected and appreciated!! This also goes for partners, friends, or family members that may ask for parts of your income. No one is automatically entitled to your money except for you.
It's also not free money for the club. You should feel comfortable tipping out little or not at all if your team refuses to help you or gets in the way of you making more money. Short story: days like this should be the exception, not the rule. If you treat your support team like they're valuable parts of your night, they should (and usually will) do the same for you. ---
The importance of this cannot be understated, because a lot of times staff at clubs relies on dancer tips to make enough to support themselves and their families. Because of this, providing a healthy economic incentive to keep them on your good side can get you:
- A quick connection to quality clients as soon as they come in the door
- The ability to alter your prices (depends on the club and the management. Do not try this unless you're sure that your team has your back)
- Preferential treatment when it comes to stage sets and club "specials." At some clubs, tipping well may mean you're allowed to skip stage sets or specials if you're closing a deal with a customer. Over time this can net you thousands.
- The small but valuable perks that come with being trusted (going home when you need to, getting help with difficult customers or rooms, and having generally more pleasant interactions than not).
Of course, this doesn't automatically come with tipping someone out once. Tipping is just building a professional relationship with those around you that feels and is reciprocal. They do something for you, you do something for them. In order for this to work all the time though , your staff needs to know who you are, and have a sense of trust that you will consistently take care of them as much as you can.
This is why I consider tipping poorly or not at all a shortcut that gets you nowhere. Sure, for that night you will go home with a little bit more cash. But if you plan to dance consistently at a club, the reputation of being a poor tipper will all but ensure that the dancers that do take care of their support staff get preference over you. Those 40 or 50 bucks that you saved may cost you a few thousand the next time a quality customer is passed off to dancers that are contributing to the management.
On top of that, having a stable strategy for tipping in mind means you'll be more incentivized to go out there and get more dances and rooms! Sometimes if you can just get yourself on the floor to get your "tip out money," you will end up finding great customers that you might have overlooked otherwise.
So, how do you tip?
Every club has different standards, but here's my basic roadmap.
DJ- 5% or between $40-50
Floor- 5%, or between $40-50
Management-5-10% or between $50-100
- This has become my strategy because I've implemented many other strategies and daily practices that have made me a strong dancer over time. While I can afford to tip out like this regularly, it doesn't mean that it's worth doing right away if you haven't mastered how to maximize your income at your club yet. If you're making 300 or even 500$ per night, then tipping out $100-150 may not be in your best interest yet. But even if you can tip 5% to your DJ ($15) on $300, you'll still likely be putting in more than most people around you, and your team should notice and respect this.
- Some clubs may have mandatory or expected tip policies. When in doubt, follow the standard rules for your club.
- Sometimes it makes sense to deviate from whatever standard you set for yourself. If you don't meet your goals, if you have a member of your team negatively affect your income, or if you simply need to keep the money for a short term emergency, don't let it make you feel like you're not a team player. It's ultimately your discretion to give gratuities or not, and hopefully the people around you can understand that.
- Not every club works the same! There are clubs in affluent areas that may expect much more than this as a tip out, and there are clubs that are genuinely grateful if you tip at all. Some clubs even automatically deduct what they consider to be a fair tip from your earnings before letting you cash out at the end of the night. Are some of these better or worse? It entirely depends on how happy you are working at that club, on what your final take home pay is and how close it gets you to your goals, and on how healthy and supportive your work environment is every night.
There is no perfect tip out system, and there is no one rule that works for every club. But the important part is that you figure out what works best at your club, and that you make a system and stick to it as much as you can.
Do you agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts.