"This is hard work but I need to make a living," 18-year-old En En told AP . She earned the equivalent of US$100, but picked up some tips after letting men cop a feel. En En wasn't just pole dancing at a strip club. She was dancing to appease the dead at a religious ceremony in Taiwan.
According to AP, men, women, and children attended the folk religion ceremony. Showgirls like En En are hired to appear at festivals as well as at weddings and funerals. They travel across Taiwan on "electronic flower cars", which can be converted to electro light stages.
"They have become part of our religion and folk culture," Chen Chung-hsien, an official at Wu Fu Temple, told AP.
The practice started in the 1970s, and it does have its critics, who label the tradition as vulgar.
Pole-dancing, singing, and flashing lights seem de rigor at these performances. Strippers can get arrested, as stripping fully nude is a criminal offense in Taiwan. Partial stripping, however, does happen.
"I've watched this since I was little so it's nothing peculiar for me. Performing for the dead is just like performing for the living people," said 26 year-old Chiang Pei-ying, who travels with her sisters and her father, who's worked in this business for 30 years.
"They liked to sing when they were alive and their relatives thought they would have liked to have somebody sing for them in the end," she added. "For me, I get good tips and I hope I am accumulating good karma too."