A cellar bar, situated near one of London’s mainline stations, is home to the Round Table, a private member’s club which represents the next level of fleshly activity down — or up, depending on your point of view — from the likes of Browns’. Admission to the Round Table is by request only; they don’t advertise, and prospective applicants may face a grilling to ensure they are legitimate punters. Assuming you pass the test, you are told the location, and given the basic details: events happen on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with special “stag do’s” on the first Monday of each month. Membership is forty quid a year, plus six pounds for a normal event and twenty quid for the stags. It’s then a question of screwing our courage to the sticking plate and going along. For (im)moral support, I went with a friend, expectations high that this was a ripoff, scam…or something worse. We descended into the depths of the Earth to meet the fabled “Reg”, the mastermind behind the Round Table…
For the sort of person whom the News of the World would undoubtedly label an “evil genius”, Reg seemed an entirely affable bloke, though I think the fact that there were two of us worried him a bit, since the rest of the customers all arrived on their own. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses and undercover cops work in pairs, but Reg’s greatest fear appeared to be that we were Inland Revenue. I toyed with the idea of pulling out my work id and yelling “Freeze, scum!”, but I’m fond of my kneecaps the way they are.
We paid our subs, got a spiffy membership card, bought a couple of beers, and watched the rest of the audience and the girls, arrive. Like other venues, the clients were a mix of City suits and casual dress, though as mentioned above, no groups were present. The three girls engaged to provide the evening’s entertainment were a Mediterranean girl, thin to the point of anorexia, a Eastern European, pretty but with such a frosty attitude that we nick-named her the Ice Pole. and an English lass, the best of the bunch, though a little plump. Below the standard of Metropolis or Brown’s, definitely, but scarcely unpleasant to look at, averaging maybe 6.5’s. Having reassured ourselves that it didn’t seem to be a con, our next question was the deeply philosophical “Why are we here?”, specifically, what would we get for our cash. We were answered fairly rapidly when the first dancer, the Mediterranean, appeared. Taking her top off in close proximity to one punter, the customer in question reached out and began caressing her breasts. “My”, we thought, “this is new”, eyebrows (amongst other things) rising. But they had to be pulled off the ceiling when this respectable-looking gent then began sucking lustily on the teat as if he’d never been weaned off milk. It was clear that at the Round Table, stripping was no longer just a spectator sport, it had become a participation event.
This culture shock resulted immediately in us both assuming defensive, crossed-legs postures, as the girl proceeded randomly round the room, receiving similar attention from other attendees. However, when a not unattractive woman is trying to sit in your lap, keen for you to run your tongue around her nipple…well, it would be churlish to refuse. My “rabbit caught in headlights” expression was soon replaced by a sizable grin.
The process was repeated with the other two girls, leading us to wonder just how far they would go. And, indeed, how far we would — this was not a place for faint hearts, and many of my companions who happily visit Brown’s would find the Round Table a breast too far. From the morality and fidelity points of view, one can defend “just looking” easier than “putting your head between them and going blubble-blubble”. Much as I love TC and its editor, there are (just) limits.
After the inevitable circulation of pint jugs, the next set of routines pushed those boundaries further, as the girls performed wearing nothing at all. Obviously, this offered better, ah, openings for entertainment, and the girls remained as pliable and available for interaction as ever (even if the Ice Pole still looked like she’d been sucking a nettle or two). This set the standard for the rest of the evening, with random variations such as baby-oil, up until well past 11. Though things were still in full swing at that point, I had to head off, my fingers bearing an unmistakable souvenir of the evening, which combined baby oil and a muskier, more intimate scent…
It’s probably true to say that events at the Round Table blur the boundary between dancing and prostitution. This was made abundantly clear when, less than half an hour after arriving, another attendee sidled up to us, and handed over cards inviting us to a “house party”, taking place in Peckham the next Monday. Twenty-five quid got us a show from two of the girls there that night, no pint jugs, bring your own booze and you were “guaranteed a fuck”. This was something of a shock: it’s one thing to see a girl on stage, and dream about having her, but the knowledge that you actually could have her, for the price of a decent meal, puts the whole event into a new dimension. It’s one with which I’m not exactly comfortable: as someone previously wrote in TC, “the gap between fantasy and reality is sometimes a pretty good idea”. So I didn’t go: besides, the cute English girl wasn’t on offer.
Other evenings since have offered other girls, of varying quality as well as the renowned “Sue the Swapper”, an amateur performer who turned up to perform on an ad-hoc basis. I was under the impression such women were merely created by the letter column editors of dodgy magazines, but this woman genuinely seemed to be into the exhibitionism. To each their own.
As for the stag events, they really weren’t worth the (quite considerable) extra money, unless you enjoy the sight of a rugby scrum of flabby men with their willies out, crowding round a woman, to the extent that nothing can be seen of her. As a spectator sport, it leaves something to be desired, though there is the odd alternative diversion. Seeing a woman stick two cucumbers, a can of Diet Pepsi, a can of Ruddles County, a marrow, and most of someone’s forearm up her pussy (no, not at the same time) is certainly an impressive sight, but is hardly erotic. Similarly Sue’s taking on of, literally, all-comers, leaving her looking like an open condensed milk sandwich (think about it…). The 1-on-1 action was a touch better, but overall it’s an experience I was left in no hurry to repeat.
If the legality of the pub joints is questionable, the legality of the Round Table must be even more dubious. I suspect many of the foreign girls probably don’t have all the necessary papers, which would limit their employment elsewhere. The premises were clearly not licenced, which led to a visit from the authorities, and a currently on-going hiatus. As for fire regulations, forget it. All this, in a way, makes it remarkable that it did appear to be “honest”, rather than a scam. Those who operate beyond the law are not required to have much concern for customer satisfaction, but to Reg’s credit, he seems to play it straight.
From the aesthetic point of view, the Round Table is never going to be up to the standard of other venues, where the women are prettier and generally at least give the impression of wanting to be there. You trade off a few seconds of very close attention, against a few minutes of more distant entertainment; which is “better” depends on too many variables to call. If Brown’s and Metropolis are the Serie A of stripping; the Round Table are the local park league. The quality on display may not be comparable, but you’re almost guaranteed a hell of a lot more goals. There are times when that will be just what you want.