For 6 years I worked at Castle McCulloch in Jamestown,NC in various roles. Mainly for the last 5 I had been a go go dancer. We would have usually three shows a year but one year we opened both Friday and Sat for two events. That equals A LOT of performances!
I’ve debated,so many times,whether or not to write this out. In the end I posted a nice version on my facebook because so many people were asking me if I was performing this September. By this time I usually have posted about the upcoming event several times…hell a few years I personally made the event page bc no one from the castle made one. So I felt I should let everyone know that I no longer work there and my biggest or most final reason for leaving. And the one posted was no lie. I do have bigger things going on that need my attention and fulfill me more. But it wasn’t the only reason,by far…
The reality is a little different.
When I started I had such a great time. The other dancers I worked with showed up on time,we all worked together really well,it flowed seamlessly. You def don’t get paid what you should to dance your ass off all night. BUT the tips made up for it. I could make ,easily, a grand a night in tips. No lie. There were events when I was SO happy,I felt like a ROCKSTAR…just some of the best nights of my life. I love interacting with the guests. Sometimes it would be someone’s b-day and you’d bring them up on stage to celebrate…make them too feel like a ROCKSTAR. And taking home BANK in CASH money was magical. The best of times….
There are many reasons as to why I left. When I started the feel was so different. The guests were different. It was a beautiful,fun event filled with people there to have fun and see unique things.
It’s turned into a ghetto paradise filled with extremely drunk/drugged out people who grab you and demand you get naked NOW.
The worst of times….
1.) I didn’t feel safe as a performer. There are a few reasons for this.
A. The stages we go go danced on were rarely an actual stage. They were makeshift boxes pushed together that kept coming apart. Girls were wearing heels,dancing on these boxes..getting their heel caught in the between spaces….no. Sometimes they were just filled with splinters or uneven and wobbly. A few events I had to dance up on a rickity Cherry Picker that had a stage attached to it. It was terrifying but basically YOU do it or they get someone else. Obviously it took away from any tips. We got none up there bc you couldn’t interact. I always felt like the stage was going to fall…and they had other performers UNDER IT.
B. I worked as a shadow dancer a few years back. It was in this area only accessed through a tiny door downstairs…otherwise it’s surrounded by water. I was out there by myself when three huge guys in masks bust through and demand I get naked NOW. I couldn’t get around them,the music is too loud for anyone to hear you and basically my only other choice would be…to swim to the shore. I had to talk them down myself. Terrifying.
C. You’re told to “Call security or staff if you need help.” I mean..great but if I need help I probably don’t have time or a way to call and security takes time to get there. I had a guy rip a glued on part of my costume off…I’ve had my ass grabbed IN FRONT OF STAFF who say they can’t do anything about it. I’ve seen drunken girls being molested while being filmed and staff didn’t do anything, I’ve had my phone stolen from areas that were supposed to be locked BUT the security walked through them and opened them by mistake…and left them open…countless other issues.
D. Drugs have gotten bad there. Last event there were people shooting up IN the castle and people using my stage to roll whatever drugs they were using. I could only imagine what goes on around the property outside of that.
E. There were many cases of girls being roofied. I myself got to have this experience a few years ago there as well. Not really something they could do much about with THAT many people but still….scurrrry.
F. Last event they allowed a well known creeper photog to come shoot the event. NOT COOL.
2.) You don’t get paid much. We are taking $120.00 AND I know at first that sounds like “Wow,paid to party and dance and have fun?” Yes,that’s what most of us think starting out. The reality is that this $120 is supposed to cover whatever costume you create for the event,the drive if you aren’t local and dancing at it for around 5 or so hours straight..often times straight through bc other dancers bailed on you. NO. That is a ridiculous rate for a performer. Like one step up from “Exposure”. In the early days it didn’t matter. I could easily clear a grand a night in tips and it made up for castle pay. I could just use the money given to me by the castle to buy the costume or materials. Back then I knew I’d be making actual money at the event. But in the last few years the castle hired on many dancers. It cut all of our tips down. There are some events I made just a few dollars. Once I made $1 and that was given to me by another dancer.
When they put me up on that cherry picker stage….no one could get to me so I made no money. I drove 2 hours from Blowing Rock to get there,bought all this costume stuff….performed for hours …for $120. I felt robbed. Not just once either. When I started tkt prices for this event were half what they are now and as dancers we have never seen an increase in these past 5 years. That’s sad. They basically operate under “If you don’t want to do it for this amount someone else will” and it’s gotten them where they are now….
3.) BAD DANCERS/PERFORMERS.
A. Some of the other performers they hire will just show up…and then ditch you instead of working. I cannot even tell you how many events I covered the stage the entire night bc I lost whoever else had been hired to dance with me. So I’m working my ass off for $120 and they are getting paid to be having a great night AT the event. You can tell the talent management but they are usually friends with those people and don’t care. It got old very fast. I started feeling nervous about performing at the events…not excited.
B. A lot of the girls they hired to dance with me later on were models, Burlesque performers or strippers. THAT’S NOT GO GO DANCING. I’m busting my ass and they are lightly moving around then going to take another break. Drove me crazy. Eventually to stop this they implemented a hall monitor to walk around and make sure we were in our spots according to a schedule they now made. They did all that instead of just hiring better people. THEY ARE OUT THERE,I SWEAR!!! This didn’t work either bc at the last event I worked…the girl in this position didn’t even know who one of the dancers was. This dancer had been there dancing with me for hours when she was texted and asked if she was even coming to the event. CRAZY.
C. Some of the dancers/performers were mean to guests. I have watched,from my stage,as some of them would tear through the crowd…shoving people to the side or knocking people over. Leave your shit attitude at home. ESP AROUND DRUNK PEOPLE. I can understand if they are bothering or hurting you but this was not the case.
4.) You get no promotion of your own as a Go Go Dancer. We are never counted as performers. Most other performers there rove around and have sets. YOU DANCE ALL NIGHT. BUT you’ll see everything else highlighted on the event page…except YOU. As an actual performer that is a hit to your soul. It’s like they don’t even claim you. Thanks!
5.) Sometimes you don’t know what theme you have until a week before the event. This takes away from your $120 bc then you have to scrape at the last minute to get whatever they want you to have…local. If I know ahead of time then I can order the same thing from overseas at usually 70% less. Luckily I have SO much costume stuff that I was ok BUT one year they decided everything was all white and we had to all wear the same horns. I had to order mine bc I lived in BFE and didn’t have a Party City. They almost weren’t even there in time. For someone who maybe doesn’t have so much costume stuff ….it can really put them on edge and out of funds. Corsets are pricey. A good one can cost you most of your $120 and we all want to look awesome as performers!
6.) They don’t appreciate or respect you unless they are buddy buddy with you. I watched it for years now. I’d dance on that stage for hours straight with the other two girls m.i.a. When they finally showed up,very late for their call time….the ladies in charge of talent would run into the area with their cameras and would be all smiles capturing the moment. Of course once they left…so did those dancers. I cannot tell you how old that got and how fast. Every year I wrote a post thanking the castle and tagging each person who helped out,etc….and they would like it but no interaction other than that only to see later that they commented all over the photos of the other dancers….partying DURING THE EVENT…all up in the castle …very far from where they were supposed to be dancing. “Sexy girls,you are awesome!” Yes…they were SO awesome..they have taken SO much of the castle’s money to party at this point it might as well have been called a robbery. Not my issue anymore though!
7.) And this one bugs me most….when I quit I wrote the people in charge of talent and the event to tell them my experience and what happened. These people were all three people I considered friends and respected. Only one responded at all. 6 months….not one peep from the others. No one cares that you did more shows than any other dancers…that you put up with all their bad hiring choices for years or that you busted you ass and took time away from your life to try to make this event great. No one cares you were ever there at all. Onward…who else can we get to work for next to nothing?
I’m sure the same girls who don’t actually perform will still be gracing the stages for their brief moments…I’m sure the gals in talent will come rushing in with cameras to capture the moment….meanwhile the good dancers…they are all done with your shit. I have to just laugh about it now.
And now that I’m done I’m happy I wrote this. It actually took a lot for me to do so. I feel like this is now my closure and I am done. Onward and upward 🙂