From lap dancing to BBC acclaim: a pandemic positive

Ruth Roubelle

Last year, Ruth Roubelle was a freelance lap dancer, struggling to make ends meet and living what she describes as a lonely life. Once COVID-19 came along, she not only lost her only income, she was forced to move back home. Anxiety and depression saw an unwelcome return. Lockdown, and its perfect backdrop for reinvention, was Ruth’s only salvation. Ruth tells all to Rebecca Erskine.

Pre-pandemic, Ruth Roubelle’s employ was as a lap dancer. It was a job she had performed on and off for the last 20 years, usually 12 months of dancing followed by 12 months of gigging. It wasn’t a career path she would have chosen, as she readily admits. In some ways, however, it was a natural step on from her passion for dance and entertainment.
Her work took her to clubs across the country, often staying in Airbnbs. When she got a longer-term gig in Leicester, she was staying with the same elderly couple – so often, in fact, that they invited her to rent their spare room on a long-term basis. It was a routine that provided some stability in an otherwise unsettled existence.
Of course, there is a seedy side of lap dancing, but Ruth is pragmatic. “If nothing else, it taught me how to talk to customers and how to promote myself. Since it’s all commission only, you have no salary on which to rely. You are your business.”…