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Queen's Nightclub


Dominique sits on a black vinyl bench in the front of the night club. Red lights flash in time to the bass-heavy beat. The light show was not the only reminder that we had entered the red light district of Quito.

In Ecuador, it's summer year around. But the woman sitting next to Dominique is dressed with her profession, not the season in mind. Her shorts reveal the entire length of her legs. I want to take off my sweater and let her sit on it so her legs don't have to touch the sticky vinyl. Instead, I lean back in a mirrored corner at the rear of the club, guarding my camera and following my clear instructions.

"You can film the architecture, but not the people," the administrative manager told me.

I shoot abstractions of mirrors, lights, poles, and television screens, trying to avoid the human figures that I can't help but see in mirrors. I wait for word from Dominique. She must convince the woman she's sitting next to speak to us on camera. It is her story that represents that of so many Colombian women. In her village, her father was hacked to death by paramilitary forces. She fled to Ecuador and now is a sex worker in Quito. These few snippets that Dominique is able to glean are noticeably painful for the woman to share. She teared up as she mentions her father.

Our Quito driver is who we have to thank for access to the nightclub. At night he is contracted by three night clubs to drive the sex workers to and from work. He paces, speaks to a woman, then he joins me at the back of the club to keep me company while I wait.

We exchange broken Spanish. I answer basic questions about my family, my work, my age, my home. This is so surreal, I think. I try to maintain eye contact with him. If I don't the television screen is in my direct line of sight and it's broadcasting material that can't help but distract in the most vulgar of ways.

Dominique and the women part. Dominique walks to me to report. The woman lights a cigarette and perches on a bar stool next to a woman in a short red dress. "She doesn't want to talk to us," Kiki tells me.

We go to leave.
-- Amy Brown


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You could pay her hourly rate and go to a room and get the story there-she probably feels she can not work and talk there.

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