In 2015, Sergey Melnitchenko, an Ukrainian photographer and dancer, moved to Chengdu, China. He then spent months working in one of China’s underground nightclubs to make ends meet. When he got the job in one of the city’s famous nightclubs, he decided to document what goes on with his camera. Despite China’s ban on strip clubs and sex work, nightclubs manage to find ways to appeal to their guests and fulfill their desires. Below are some of the most stunning images that Melnitchenko captured; revealing what life is like in the dark underbelly of Chengdu.
1. Women wearing masks and little clothing as they take on a shift at the club.
When Melnitchenko moved to Hong Kong in 2015, he started off as a model and a dancer. However, struggling to make ends meet, Melnitchenko decided to get a job at a nightclub, where he discovered a different side of the world.
2. A woman seducing a man who has come to frequent the club.
Although China has banned strip clubs and sex work, underground clubs exist where sordid acts take place.
According to Melnitchenko:
“Transvestites, girls bathing in tubs of beer, drunk actors and even more drunk visitors.
“All of this — club, the club where I’m working.
“At one moment I realized how many great things are going on here that’s how the series ‘behind the scenes’ appeared.”
3. These underground clubs have activities that are dark and seedy.
Melnitchenko describes that the club workers are limited to dancing, drinking and playing games with clients but enjoy drinking copious amounts as they frequent the underground nightclubs.
4. Prostitution is still reportedly rife within the city.
“It is more like a huge bar with a stage, because not one of the visitors is dancing here. And they look into the backstage, where there is more burlesque than on the stage.” He added: “The concentration of sexual fluids is more powerful than oxygen. There’s no falsehood – it’s not a scene, it’s their everyday life, our life, or rather mine.”
5. Anything goes inside these clubs. Women are exposed to abuse, alcohol and drugs.
The image above shows a woman being pinched on the cheeks by either a visitor of the club or another worker. Women who work these clubs have no control of who they affiliate with every night. Visitors go as far as humiliating them by pouring beer on their bodies.
6. Women working on the club practicing their routine before going on stage.
The club offers all kinds of entertainment routines to its visitors. A group of women wearing outfits can be seen practicing their dance routine before going on stage.
7. People from all backgrounds frequent the club.
The difference between the high profile society and the dirty street look vanishes when all arrive at the same place to quench their thirst.
“This is the reverse, the invisible side of the club, the atmosphere, a part of which I became. – Melnitchenko”
8. Workers as well as visitors are high on drugs.
At the end of the night, many of the workers go back to their homes with cuts and bruises; with no knowledge of how and when it happened.
9. In the backstage area of the club, workers embrace as they get ready for work.
While some of the women work the club as a last resort, many are forced into the form of life.
10. Adding unusual elements to keep their visitors happy.
The women who work at the club have to ensure that the visitors would become regulars. In order to do so, they add unusual elements to please their dark desires.
11. Workers not only limit the amount of clothes they wear, but also have costumes and marks on their bodies.
Rich businessmen visit the club at night to be entertained. The woman here can be seen preparing herself to go on stage.
12. They are humans and have feelings but for the men who frequent the club, they are nothing more than entertainment for the night.
A woman looks into the mirror to see what she has become.
13. A woman can be seen resting after her shift.
14. The venue is a huge bar with a stage where workers would perform and interact with guests.
Two people carry out an act on stage in wigs, wearing underwear and heels. Wigs and outfits are heavily used for the niche activities, which keeps punters pouring in.
15. Workers count the nights takings in the club.
These amazing photos were captured by Sergey Melnitchenko. Let us know your view on this.
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