Dangling from the ceiling in diamond-studded pasties, flirting their way through the drunken crowd with snazzy props, and dancing atop the DJ booth with neon lights wrapped around their waists... these ladies are the dancers and aerialists of Mansion Nightclub.
More than pretty faces, the women behind the flashy costumes are trained performers who've been plying their trade for most of their lives.
"I've been a dancer since I was 13 and have been dancing at clubs for about five years," says Karli Manson, 27.
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A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, Manson discovered her love for nightlife entertainment while living in the Big Apple.
"The first time I saw a go-go dancer, I was at a Halloween party," she recalls. "I was like 17 at the time. This girl was dancing in a cage, and I was like, 'I wanna do that!'"
Two years after graduating from school, Manson moved to the 305. She soon discovered that Opium Group was holding auditions, gave it a shot, and here she is today, dancing for one of the top nightclubs in the Magic City.
"Other clubs are like, 'Oh, let's just throw some hot girls up there,'" the dancer says in our video. "But I feel that Mansion is more artistic than all those clubs.
"The hardest part of my job is making it look easy," Manson laughs. "A lot of the things people don't realize is that we'll be wearing superheavy pieces, sometimes things that obstruct our vision, but you have to make it work and make it look natural.
"I get a lot of bruising," she admits. "But when you're on stage, you're not even thinking about the pain."
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While Manson does her thing on the Mansion stage, Danica Posadas swings the night away from the ceiling.
A gymnast at heart (she's been somersaulting since she was 4), Posadas, 26, has been an aerialist for Opium Group for more than two years.
"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.'"
Though working in the nightlife industry can get "very hectic," Posadas wouldn't have it any other way.
"I'm blessed to be able to work as a full-time aerialist," she admits. "I was actually afraid of heights but was really interested in learning. Now I love it. I love going higher and spinning faster.
"I get scared dancing on my feet," she laughs. "I look up to the dancers."
Skill and grace is a definite must when it comes to professional entertainment, but getting prepped for the night is half the job.
"I usually take about an hour to get my hair and makeup done and be costume-ready and another hour to warm up."
Like any profession, making it as a club performer takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication. But at the end of the night, it's all about being able to do what you love.
"I'm actually a really shy person," Posadas says. "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."
"I view the club scene as an art form," Manson adds. "Every single night, I'm getting paid to be an artist."
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