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Bailarina bars often get a bad rap. They are bars where men can go and dance with women, sometimes for as little as a few dollars per song. But the reality is many of the men walking into Bailarina bars are simply just looking for companionship and are taking part in a long tradition that dates back to the early 1900s.
In part two of Fusion Live’s look at the bailarina bar culture, Fusion’s William Gallego sits down with his friend Kevin Perez and his mother Nora. Nora arrived in New York in 1984 and soon after began making a living as a dancer.
WATCH PART ONE: Inside The Bailarina Bars of Jackson Heights: Where Men Pay a Few Dollars For a Dance
“I didn’t have to work a lot because I made good money there,” Nora said in Spanish. “I only worked Friday and Saturday and you would make $350 to $400 in two days.”
Nora was able to provide for her family and often rejected other opportunities that came through her dance work, such as dealing drugs. Her son Kevin praises his mom’s former work, saying: “She did what she had to do as a mother – what any parent would do for their child; provide food on the table, and a roof over your child’s head.”
Credit: Rayner Ramirez and William Gallego