Shakers Studies: Dan Robinson

Dan Robinson is the patriarch of a petite bourgeois family in Eastern Nebraska. He didn't want to have a boss, so he decided to be self-employed. Some self-employed men own gas stations. Some sell insurance. Some make apps. Dan Robinson was compelled to open a strip club, where he could treat dancers as though they are employees, but lie to them by telling them that they are independent contractors or lease holders. That way, he didn't have to give them benefits, a basic wage, pay taxes on them or be held responsible for employee liabilities, such as title VII violations. He still needed to keep his club running and attractive to patrons, so he enforced a bunch of rules that he knew aren't supposed to exist for non-employees-- such as making dancers show their genitals to people, participate in a stage rotation and charge certain amounts of money for their lap dances.

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After Dan lost a misclassification lawsuit, he took a bunch of rules away. He kept some of them and just had other people enforce them, such as the DJ. He needs to have his bully DJ friend, Steven Loe, enforce the rules, to make it seem like he had nothing to do with it himself. That way, he can deny anything in court if he gets sued later. He mostly gets away with it, because strippers are usually stupid, vulnerable and cannibalistic. Sometimes a smart brave one comes along to sue the club or pass out Know Your Rights fliers, but it's still been pretty easy for Dan to get away with exploiting women workers. He didn’t enforce the same rules on me, because he found out about my notoriety and didn’t want me to sue him. Then, he decided to just switch over to employee status, but do it in a way that would make me look really bad so that gullible dumbass strippers would get mad.

In September 2017, somebody named Jen Roth left an internet review of Shakers that states:

“Management is trash. Pure trash. This place is a joke. The owner never pays up and/or is always drunk and playing grab ass.”

I never encountered Dan drunk or violating people’s physical boundaries, but if you are Jen Roth or have encountered that behavior, please contact me through the tab at the top of this page. I’d like to know more about that comment.

Dan tried to open a second Shakers in Central Nebraska a few years ago, but that business venture failed.

On one of my last nights at Shakers, a young woman named Ashley Dawn came in to work. I had never met her before, but I was telling her how Dan Robinson lost a lawsuit earlier that year and recently decided to switch over to employee status recognition since I came along. It was a frenzied night when Ashley was in, because many dancers knew about my website at that point and were using violent tactics to try to scare me away, such as ramming an arm into my throat and discussing the shooting of guns. Ashley Dawn told me that some of the dancers who had remained at the club despite the suit “love their owner” very much and didn't want the club to change. She informed me that she had worked at Shakers sporadically over the course of about a decade. What has stuck with me throughout this past year is fact that Ashley Dawn referred to Dan as the “owner” of strippers, who they love. It reminded me of slaves who loved their owners and stayed with the families after emancipation. Dan Robinson has cultivated a quaint little stable of loyal sex workers for himself, who are willing to throw down for him if need be. That night with Ashley Dawn, and some of my remaining shifts in late December 2017, were like that scene in Twister with Helen Hunt, when she tied herself to metal piping in the middle of a tornado as it lifted her body into the air and rapidly spun all around her. Dan knew about all of the physical danger that I was in at Shakers, but just didn't do anything about it. He didn't like it very much that I was asserting my rights so strongly at that point and passing out Know Your Rights fliers.

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Dan Robinson does this shtick where he pretends to be a person who cares a lot about social justice and progressive change. Central to his shtick is an obsession with hating Donald Trump and being a Democrat. His facebook has a lot of cartoon memes and news articles about his hatred of Donald Trump. It is similar to the way so many liberals loved to hate George Bush for eight years but didn't care about Barack Obama's drone war. One would think that a man like Dan, who enjoys violating so many labor rights, would be in favor of Donald Trump as president, who recently made it pretty much illegal to picket union strikes. Trump-hating ShitLibs are often misdirected and confused people, though, so there is no rhyme or reason to what they proclaim to be their guidelines. Dan is an outspoken advocate of animal welfare if it is pertaining to dogs, but he enjoys eating meat and exploiting a lot of other species. Dan implemented a recycling system in Shakers, for all of the plastic cups and disposable items that he sells. Dan made it a rule that Shakers podium staff have to watch TV or look away instead of staring at the dancers (which is awesome), but Dan is a-OK with allowing the DJ to harass dancers over the microphone whenever he wants to. Dan doesn’t express opposition to America’s imperialistic involvement in Occupied Palestine, and from the looks of his facebook friends list, probably never will.

When I came to work at Shakers in the Summer of 2017, I inherited the fruits of Elizabeth Mays and Kathleen Neary's labor. I have thanked them for it multiple times, and here I will again: Thank you, Kathleen, for being a great attorney. Thank you, Elizabeth, for having the courage to sue Dan Robinson. Thank you for suing this awful man for worker misclassification. I am glad I didn't have to clean the bathroom, be told to “act like a lady,” be directed on when I am allowed to go into the dressing room, or follow any of the other stupid club rules that Dan took away after he lost. I am thankful that I didn't have to follow rules as strictly as past dancers did, and that when he learned about my internet celebrity status, I didn't have to follow any rules at all. It was cool that he entertained the idea of switching to employee status, but ultimately that was just another one of Dan’s schticks. It is unfortunate that Dan appealed the lawsuit and doesn’t have to pay Elizabeth Mays money that is rightly hers, even though he knows that he violated labor rights.

Dan has a speech impediment, as though his tongue is too large to fit inside of his mouth. He struggles with clearly pronouncing words without sounding muffled and lisping. In the beginning of my time at Shakers, Dan and I didn't chat much. He didn't talk to a lot of the dancers aside from his handful of loyal ones who love him. Once the Robinsons discovered who I am, he just kind of spent time wearily watching me from afar and instructing his staff to give me monologues about how I am free to do what I want. After a while, he began talking to me ALL THE TIME, as though he wanted to be pals.

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It was really annoying, so I pretended to be really into sports. During slow times when I wasn’t reading or doing math, I kept my eyes on the big screen TV, while basketball or football were on. I gained the reputation around Shakers of being a real sports nut. A little secret about me that I kept from the Robinsons is that I FUCKIN HATE SPORTS. I do not understand anything about sportsball and don’t ever want to. The points, teams, moves and strategies of the games were not something that I paid attention to at all. I was just pretending to be really into the games. I just stared at the pixels on the screen and zoned out into a zen meditation, hoping nobody brought up something about the game that I would have to converse about, because then my secret would be discovered. It was a great way to avoid talking to Dan Robinson, but sometimes he still got me to chat. I adopted a German Shepherd while I was in Nebraska, so a lot of our conversation revolved around my German Shepherd, shelter animals and related subjects.

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During my last couple of weeks working at Shakers, after I decided to assert my rights and not go on stage, Dan Robinson returned to not talking to me at all. Dillon Maynard said to me, “He's got nothing to say to you” in a very hostile tone. Dan would still nod his head and make facial expressions if he was standing next to me talking to Dillon, but he didn’t make any noises that my audio recorder could pick up. Around this time, I thought it would be funny to bring in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and just lounge around reading it in front of him. This little act of resistance was mildly antagonistic to Shakers, but nothing to what I experienced in terms of physical assault, threats and intimidation from their allies.

Despite my problems with the Robinsons, I still want them to stay in business. Conservative Republicans and Christians in the state of Nebraska are currently trying to shut down the few clubs that exist. Before last week’s midterms, conservatives released a commercial with a talking fat silohette, who claims to have worked in the clubs. She describes behaviors and practices in the clubs that are labor violations, but does not use the term “labor violations” or discuss labor rights whatsoever. The goal of the commercial is to restrict club operations. Depriving strippers of their income is no way to reform or encourage their labor rights. Not surprisingly, Republican candidates won big in the state of Nebraska last week. Because of all of this, I cannot help but think that people like Dan Robinson and I are on the same team sometimes. That makes me cringe a little bit. For me, strip clubs are a trap door away from the rest of society, a wind fall, a resting point, an escape. I know they will always be there for me if times get rough. For that, I am appreciative of proprietors who open and operate them. I was googling the Robinsons while I worked at Shakers, and saw that Dan was participating in Waverly community government meetings. His name was on their minutes records. While working there, I often wondered how Shakers stayed in business without being shut down. It makes me wonder how much time he has spent having to communicate with local conservatives who try to crush the business. In activism, there is the phrase that says you have no real friends and no real enemies. Sometimes I feel that way about the Robinsons.