Working as a nightlife entertainer seems like a pretty sweet job.
Getting paid to wear extravagant costumes, dance alongside world-class DJs, meet celebrities, score free drinks... It's like a dream come true.
Yes, there may be an endless list of perks. But truth is, having a career in the nightlife biz is no joke, especially if we're talkin' about the dancers.
Most of the ladies you see dancing in pleather bras and neon wigs are trained professionals who've been perfecting their craft for most of their lives. And aside from working the club, many of these women also juggle college classes and full-time day jobs. They aspire to open up their own businesses and even publish a book one day.
Meet South Beach's ten best club dancers.
Photo by Karli Evans
Tania Perrero, Mokai
An entertainer at Mokai, Tania Perrero has been dancing since she was a student at Everglades High School up in BroCo.
"I was involved in musical theater and the dance team," she recalls. "And then I got into professional sports teams and started dancing for the Miami Marlins."
"Little by little, I began making [TV] appearances on Univision and Telemundo, and that's when I met Tati [of Aura Entertainment, the entertainment booking agency for Mokai] and started dancing in nightlife."
Perrero flaunts her moves and flashy costumes on Monday nights, but during the rest of the week, she works as the assistant director at Aura Entertainment and studies marketing and PR at Florida International University.
Although Perrero admits that dancing till sunrise in heels can be challenging, she does it all for the love of the game.
"It's something you really feel inside. When I see dancers that really feel the music to the point that they're crying, it gives me chills. Dancing is amazing."
See also: South Beach's Ten Best Dance Clubs
Photo by Karli Evans
Alexy Argote, Mokai
Originally from Alabama, Alexy Argote moved to the Magic City in hopes of gaining experience as a dancer.
"We obviously don't have clubs there!" she laughs. "When I moved here, I was looking for jobs in the dance industry, but I had no idea there was such a thing as club dancers."
That's when Argote came across Aura Entertainment and discovered the life of a showgirl at Mokai.
"People hear the name go-go dancer and they think it's not a real job, that it's just fun," she testifies. "But a lot of work goes into it. A lot happens behind the scenes. You're in crazy costumes and in heels all night, but you get used to it."
Regardless of the physical challenges, working in the nightlife biz is, nonetheless, an exciting job. But as much as Argote enjoys her work, she's also very aware of the reality of the industry.
"It's not something you're gonna do forever," she claims. "Now, when you're young, it's easier to be awake."
Club dancing aside, Argote also teaches jazz, ballet, and hip-hop at a dance studio in Key Biscayne. She studies dance choreography at Nova Southeastern University, and in the future, plans to open up her own studio in 'Bama.
Photo by Karli Evans
Stephanie Hamden, Mansion
Stephanie Hamden has been dancing for nearly two decades, but never did she imagine she would work as a go-go dancer.
Originally from North Carolina, Hamden moved to Miami almost 10 years ago to study international marketing and fashion at Johnson & Wales University. A full-time entertainer for the Opium Group, Hamden has performed with Pitbull twice on Telemundo's Premios Juventud and was even hired to dance for Life In Color.
"Dance is my first love and something I will always cherish, but it was a little bit difficult [in the beginning] because my social life changed, and the different stigmas about dating a dancer or a performer, everyone has a different perception. It's a different lifestyle and I had to adjust to it. There are some days I wish I could have dinner at a normal hour. It's difficult."
Like almost every other dancer, though, all of those sacrifices disappear on the dance floor.
"I look forward to it," she smiles. "Every night, we're a different character and put on a completely different persona. I feel I kind of escape sometimes and am able to take on these other characters and personalities, exhibit my creativity, and express it through motion."
Her true love may be dance, but during her downtime, she writes.
"I'm actually working on a poetry book," she says. "That's not something I can make a career out of, but I really enjoy the creative directing part of [the nightlife industry]. I would love to be like a creative coach. I know I can't dance forever."
See also: The Six People You Meet on South Beach
Courtesy of Yesabel Cordero
Yesabel Cordero, Mansion
Yesabel Cordero has a bachelor's degree in criminal law from the University of Central Florida. From 8 to 5 p.m., she works as an office manager at Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach. But at night, Cordero swaps her slacks for neon stalkings, piles on her makeup, and lives her second life as a club dancer.
"I go home, take a quick nap, then get up and go to work," she explains of her daily schedule. "I've been doing this for a long time. Your body gets used to it."
With only a few cat naps in between and two nights off a week from dancing, her passion for the art is what keeps Cordero going.
"I love every aspect of it," she admits. "Everything is 100 percent fantasy. It's intriguing to be able to be a part of that fantasy world."
But as much as Cordero loves dancing for Opium Group, her days in the biz are numbered.
"I think I will probably be performing another year and I think that will be very hard for Mike [Lee, the creative director at Opium Group] to digest, but I do have other dreams and career paths I would like to pursue," she admits.
"My day job is what keeps me normal, but my evening job keeps me happy and young because it's my passion and what I love to do."
Photo by Karli Evans
Danica Posadas, Mansion
"I look up to the dancers," admits Danica Posadas, a full-time aerialist at Mansion.
"I was actually afraid of heights but was really interested in learning [aerial acrobats]. Now I love it. I love going higher and spinning faster. I get scared dancing on my feet."
Posadas has been a gymnast since she was four, but it wasn't until a few years ago that she got into EDM and became a regular at Mansion.
"I got into the electronic dance music scene about four years ago," the performer recalls. "I would go to Mansion to see big-name DJs but always gravitated towards the aerialists. I would find myself staring at them and thought, 'Wow, I could do that.'"
Two-and-a-half years later, here she is, doing what she loves.
"I'm actually a really shy person," she claims. "I'm really not social at all. When I perform, that's my expression. It's the most wonderful feeling to express myself that way. When I start to perform, that's when I gain my confidence."
Photo by Karli Evans
Jesika Lee, Cameo
When Jesika Lee isn't dancing with Opium Group, she's teaching ladies how to pole dance at SoBe Pole Dance Studio.
"I used to bar tend in strip clubs before I became a dancer and was always interested in working the pole," she explains. "The other strippers showed me the tricks. I got into Cameo and other girls were instructors as well. One of the instructors at the studio quit, and I took her place."
That's only on Saturday mornings. Every other day, she's dancing either at Cameo, Mansion, or Space.
"I like being in clubs, but not in the crowd," fesses Lee. "[I love] the dressing up part, doing my make up, and putting on costumes and being able to dance how I want and feel sexy."
"I still have creepy guys, but at least I'm away from them," which is definite perk, especially when it comes to wardrobe malfunctions.
"Pasties take the longest to put on," she explains. "There are times that they fall off. We just have to hide it with a prop or put our hand onto our chest. You gotta go with it."
Although Lee admits, "I'm not gonna be dancing forever," she hopes to continue working in the nightlife industry and start her own "shots company or go-go dancer company."
See also: Five Signs This Club Sucks
Photo by Camilo Villota
Lisa Agostini, SET
Sales person by day and dancer by night, Lisa Agostini is a third-generation Miami girl and a nine-year veteran club dancer.
"I can turn into a drag queen very fast," she laughs. "It takes me eight minutes to get ready and look good. I've timed myself."
Agostini can give herself a 360 transformation with her eyes closed, but that's what she loves so much about her night job.
"I get grumpy at my day job," she admits. "But dancing, it never feels like work. I'm really playing dress up and dancing. I love the creative side of it. Whenever you're in character, it's like an alter ego. It's a lot of freedom."
That, and the fact that when she's dancing, she's in family.
"They actually care and they're there for you. It's nice."
Photo by Karli Evans
Stephanie Gianoli, Mansion
Before becoming a full-time aerialist at Mansion, Stephanie Gianoli was a hair stylist in her homeland of France.
Like many 305 transplants, Gianoli and her husband got a taste of the Magic City while on vacation, fell in love with Miami, and ended up moving here.
"I was a pole dance teacher and a friend of mine who was a dancer at Mansion, asked me to dance there one night," she explains. "I did, and after that, Mike [Lee] asked me to stay."
With only a few years of pole dancing experience under her belt, which Gianoli clarifies is not the same as stripping, but more like "gymnastics," she accepted the offer, and started doing aerials just two weeks after being hired.
Sure, switching from a regular day job to working till 5 a.m. in pasties is a drastic career change, but for Gianoli, nothing beats the satisfaction and adrenaline rush she gets from swinging in the air.
"I'm actually sacred of heights, but that's what I love about it," she admits. "My job is my passion. It's like I'm getting paid for my hobby."
"I know I will have to stop one day, but that's why you live day by day," the adrenaline junkie adds. "You never know what's gonna happen. You can get an injury, someone better can come along. That's why you always have to be sure you're at your best all the time."
See also: Eight Signs You're Not VIP
Romina Quintana, LIV
As a stylist at LIV and dancer for Zhantra Entertainment, Romina Quintana's life can get pretty hectic.
"Normally, I leave my house at 11:30, get to LIV at 12, and I'm there until like 3, 4 a.m.," Quintana explains. "We dance for 15 minutes, then take a 30 minute break. In the meantime, we help with bottle runs or chill in the dressing room."
Sure, it seems like an insane schedule, but after working as a club dancer for eight years, being on the clock while everyone else is partying or sleeping is something you get accustomed to.
"In the beginning I would work, work, work, but the more you work in the field, the more you know how to balance your life. I sleep a lot and take care of myself. And since I have Monday and Tuesday off, I get to do other things I wanna do."
And, if it's your passion, the best job you can ever have.
"Oh my God I love my job so much," she proclaims. "I love everything about it. The most I like is the characters you can become. One time you can be a cat woman then dominatrix then a sweet little girl. I love the costumes and I love the production, and of course, the dancing. You get to listen to the best DJs in the world. I'm very blessed and very lucky."
Everlayn Borges, Story
From studying ballet in Cuba, to working as a professional dancer in Mexico and crossing the border into the U.S., to touring with Julio Iglesias and landing modeling and acting contracts, Everlayn Borges is the Magic City's most interesting club dancer.
"It was kinda like in the movies," the wonder woman recalls about her escape to freedom. "I had to jump out of the window of my second-story hotel room, and crossed the border with only $20 in my pocket."
She was only a teenager then, but today, Borges has made a career for herself in Miami as an entertainer, working for Zhantra as the head dancer at Story.
"What I like about working at Story is that they give me the opportunity to get creative and raise the bar for people to look at us and be like, 'Wow, those are really talented girls,' to show it's not just about the DJ."
As much as Borges loves dancing, her dream is to "be an actress one day." And with the combination of her experience in the biz and enrollment at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, it's quite possible.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"I'm doing everything slowly. I just don't want to pack my bags and leave after all I've been through. I have a few projects in the works, when that moment comes, if it comes, I'll pursue it and quit dancing in the club scene."
Crossfade's Top Blogs