HE WAS 23 and as shy as they come. To hear Toni tell it, he'd fall down at the very sight of a woman. So he came to the only place he knew where the women always said "yes" when he asked them to dance: Club Flamingo. For 35 cents a minute, he could dance with the woman of his choice and not have to worry about saying something stupid or embarrassing.
"I was giving him lessons on how to talk to girls," recalls Toni, a hostess at the Flamingo. She's pleasant-looking, tall, with curly brown hair and brown eyes, somewhere in her late 20s or early 30s. "He came in here wanting to find a girlfriend. And I told him: 'Go somewhere else and find yourself a nice girl.' "
Toni glances around the dance floor this blustery night. Most of the couples dancing match up like polka dots and plaids. Old, worn-out guys with faces like unmade beds drape themselves over 19- or 20-year-old girls. In the booths and at the tables, couples cuddle in the dim light. The girls wear short, tight, low-cut dresses. They rest their heads on the men's shoulders, forcing blissful smiles. The men's faces radiate a certain amount of triumph, as if they've won their partners over with good looks, great intellect, strength of character and charisma.
"Then he decided he was in love with me," Toni continues. "He'd come in here and say, 'Toni, I can't help it. I'm in love with you.' I said, 'Look, you can't be in love with me--I'm married.' Believe me, this isn't any place to go looking for a girlfriend."
The signs outside usually advertise "hostess dancing," but history has saddled the Flamingo and other clubs like it with the less delicate phrase taxi dancing . It's an apt-enough name. When you ask a girl to dance, she rises wearily to her feet, goes to the rack, pulls out her time card and punches the clock. She hitches her purse over her shoulder as if she's afraid someone might steal it (conceivably you), and together you go to the dance floor.
Release Date: August, 2017