All it took was one picture. Skinny girls in bikinis, one thrusting her butt into the pelvis of another suggestively, with a nerdy looking guy in the back. This was how the event was being marketed. I was instantly turned off. “What the hell is this?” I thought.
My boyfriend and several of our friends were planning on going to this event called “Bikini Laser Tag”. As I looked up information on the event to decide if I wanted to go, this and other similar photos greeted me. Having been raised by feminists, my mind instantly conjured reactions such as “objectification” and “meat market event”. What I saw through the pictures was a glorified strip club – figured that the only women there would be paid to show up in bikinis and let guys oogle them. Didn’t seem like my scene and I felt offended by the whole concept.
My boyfriend and friends went to Bikini Laser Tag regardless of my objections. When they came back, my boyfriend raved about how much fun it was, trying to explain to me that my assumptions were wrong. I thought that he just didn’t understand. He relayed explanations from the event’s organizer, who offered to sit with me and discuss what I found objectionable about his party, but I was unconvinced. However, in addition to being raised by feminists I was also raised under the motto “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”. So when I saw presale tickets for the next Bikini Laser Tag go on sale for $15, I decided that I had to check it out first hand. I figured at the very least I could bowl and play laser tag all night with my friends all while justifying my objections and having ammo when I sat down with the organizer.
Let me give you the short version first: My assumptions were wrong.
Bikini Laser Tag is unlike any event you’ve been to, despite its “sex sells” marketing and promotion. The women you see are not paid – while wearing a bikini earns you free entry, it’s entirely up to them. As a party used to raise funds for Camp Airstream’s equipment and other events, very few people walk away from Bikini Laser Tag with a paycheck. Many of the performers – dancers, drummers, fire performers, and djs – all work to support the night without being paid beyond patrons’ tips or free wristbands. Rather, Bikini Laser Tag is an opportunity for them to network and promote their talents and artforms.
The event is a good deal no matter how you cut it. While $30 at the door may sound steep, patrons are getting an all night party with live djs and unlimited bowling and laser tag. Drummers and fire performers take the party out into the parking lot while LED flow performances are found indoors. Shortly after last call, it’s as if a shift change happens as the drinkers file out and afterhours party seekers arrive from local nightclubs. Private security helps create a safe place for partiers to play, free from disrespectful or inappropriate behavior towards the ladies. UV body paint artists are on hand to decorate patrons and past events have featured date auctions and an oxygen bar.
In actuality, Bikini Laser Tag is no more offensive than a costume or pool party. The more you participate rather than spectate, the better time you have. All the ladies in attendance have a great time and you can really tell the difference between a bikini clad girl at BLT and a paid dancer at other clubs and events. The women who go to Bikini Laser Tag are there to have fun and love dressing up. If you saw them at other events (and I have) you see that they are always dressed in fun costumes and outfits and really make the party happen wherever they go.
The entire event is tailored to creating a comfortable environment for everyone. I would even venture to say that Bikini Laser Tag can be empowering for young women. Bikini Laser Tag becomes a safe place for self expression, where the focus is more on art and performance rather than trying to attract a mate. The latter is possible and does happen, but comes second to music, dance, and fun. Women will find the men respectful need not worry about their safety or unwanted attention. Creativity is encouraged; at the door girls’ discretion, a creative and artistic costume may earn you a free pass, and women who aren’t comfortable in a full bikini can either wear a full top with bikini bottoms or just the bikini top and get reduced admission to the party.
Don’t believe me? Put on a bikini and find out for yourself. Or, if that’s not your style, buy presale tickets at $20 and invite your friends out for some bowling and laser tag. Don’t criticize it until you’ve checked it out firsthand. I guarantee, unless you’re allergic to having fun, you’ll have a blast.