The clientele consists of rather large, big-boned, voluptuous women and men who are simply wanting a night out dancing without the rude stares and remarks usually made by club goers at other nightclubs.
From Florida to California, these ‘fat nightclubs’ are a warm welcome for many plus size dancers, especially with those people who jokingly admit that they are part of a new movement in America called the “Fat is Phat movement”.
One such nightclub is Club Bounce in California. Here people of larger shapes and sizes than your average size 0 model, are welcome to hit the dance floor without having an ounce of insecurity about their weight.
“Self-conscious? No! Not at all,” exclaims Monique Lopez, a shapely 23 year old woman, who chooses to dress in a tight, black dress with heels. “I was like,
‘I’m going to Club Bounce tonight. I’m going to wear my shortest skirt.’”
The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance has been a strong supporter of equal rights for plus sized people in America since it was founded over 40 years ago. With chapters around the country, this nonprofit group believes that all Americans be treated equally regardless of their shape or size.
Whilst such associations have been around for a while, places like Club Bounce where overweight night-clubbers can go to party in a comfortable and accepting atmosphere are still catching on.
“When you’re not what they consider ideal, you know, and you’re out there trying to get your dance on at those other places, you get the looks, the stares, but not here. Everything’s accepted here,” says 30 year old, Vanessa Gray of Long Beach, California.
It seems that the whole plus sized nightclub idea originally stemmed from parties organized amongst plus sized friends on the internet. Owner of the Butterfly Lounge in Southern California, Kathleen Divine, explains:
“The whole thing really started on the Internet, with clubhouse parties organized online. Now you see a lot more large people out in public, not hiding behind their keyboards anymore.”
Even so, Lynn McAfe, of the Council On Size and Weight Discrimination, would prefer to see such nightclubs in every major city.
“It’s nice to have a place to go where you can do a little flirting and maybe bring your thin sister or somebody from work who isn’t fat, and they’ll be in your world for awhile,” says McAfe. “That’s an amazing experience for a lot of people who aren’t fat, to spend a day or night in a world of fat people.”
Fat or Phat
Owner of Club Bounce, 40 year old Lisa Marie Garbo, who opened the club over 5 years ago, says that she opened the nightclub because she was tired of being “the only fat girl at the local nightclub.”
Whilst Club Bounce attracts a relatively equal number of women and men, Garbo states that more than half of all the women are plus sized whilst only a quarter of the men are.
Garbo, herself has seen her weight go up and down since opening the nightclub and dancing on the dance floor, much like a lot of other people as well.
However, venues such as Club Bounce and the Butterfly Lounge, have caused some people to rethink their value, believing that they actually encourage people to remain overweight in a society where one-third of all adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I’m not a gain-weight advocate or anything like that,” says Garbo, who has been struggling with her weight since she was child. “My message to people is live your life no matter what size you are.”
On the other side of things, sociologist Karen Sternheimer believes that these plus sized nightclubs are creating places where overweight people can feel safe and free from any ridicule. This leads to better self-esteem, which Sternheimer believes, will encourage plus sized people to try to lose their extra weight, which, if not lost, could lead to heart disease and diabetes.
“As the country gets heavier and ultimately unhealthier, in many instances the problem is people feeling bad about themselves, and feeling bad about themselves doesn’t motivate people to lose weight,” says Sternheimer, author of “Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture.”
Sternheimer says the best motivation comes from within; when obese people carry a positive attitude about themselves and their weight and then decide to lose the extra weight.
“Anything that helps people feel better about themselves,” she said, “there’s something positive to that.”
Photo Credit: fibroblast