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Dancing for Your Life: The True Story of Maria de la Torre and Her Secret Life in a Hong Kong Go-Go Bar by [Royal, Brandon, Strahan, Paul]
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Dancing for Your Life: The True Story of Maria de la Torre and Her Secret Life in a Hong Kong Go-Go Bar Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Length: 224 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product description

Review

“Straightforward. Honest. Storytelling that works because it bleeds truth on every page.”

—Karl Taro Greenfeld, former Editor, Time Asia magazine

Book Description

Dancing for Your Life chronicles the true story of a beautiful, young Filipina who, in order to help her family financially, leaves her home in the quiet Philippines countryside to work as a dancer in Hong Kong's red-light district of Wan Chai. This book will hold special appeal for readers interested in gaining a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of an Asian go-go bar and will serve as a companion guide for individuals interested in cultural studies, gender studies, or spirituality. It presents a rare first-person account that is thought provoking and controversial. Here is the “untold story” of faith, friendship, and sacrifice, but also of triumph and forgiveness.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1793 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Maven Publishing (1 Sept. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003YJEWY4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #797,530 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I love the authenticity this memoir delivers! Maria proves that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. She's a survivor who defines her limits; she knows when to stay firm and when to bend.

Bars of Steel is extremely well written. The imagery of each chapter introduction helps to set the tone in this tender, tragic, triumphant account.

To Lifewriters everywhere -- Read great writing to write great reading -- which is why you must read Bars of Steel.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved the book from the start till the last page! I read the book in 48 hours and it was a very "real reading". I would recommend this book to anybody regardless... Very bittersweet memoir of what seem like a very sweet and sensitive person.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It Makes You Mad 9 May 2013
By Ike - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book gives you a very realistic picture of what the poor of the Philippines face. With few resources and large families many find their only way to survive and get ahead is employment abroad. Unfortunately, many times this amounts to enlisting to go to serve as a bar girl in another country (often disguised as employment as a dancer). It is an example of how the burden of poverty inordinately impacts young women.

This is the story of one of them and how they are exploited every step of the way. As an example, there was a public outcry in the Philippines against shipping women off to do such work. Instead of banning it, the Filipino government responded by requiring that anyone going abroad to dance must be certified as trained as a dancer. Instead of insuring that the job was legitimately dancing, the result was to add more costs to the poor victim, who now had to pay for training and certification, even though the only dancing they did abroad was around a steel pole in a bar.

The author tells it like it is. Girls pile up what is for them a huge debt in processing fees, training and certification, so that they often go months seeing minimal cash from their salaries with the rest going to pay down what they owe. Of course, more fees get added in the meantime in the way of fines and expenses that they pay for their room and board (which they must pay for and are given no choices of alternative arrangements).

Given the situation, it is easy to see how even the most reluctant ones find it about impossible to avoid the exhortations of the bar managers to sleep with customers. I don't need to add that the bar gets a cut. The situation is well described in the book, which captures the human side to this on-going tragedy.

The book made me mad. It will make you mad too. Maybe we all should read it and get mad.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Thought Provoking 23 July 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book really opens up some moral questions and turns traditional moral judgement upside down. The subject of the book is a Philipino woman working as a dancer and part time prostitute. She had very serious moral objections to prostitution, but her alternative was to lose her job and leave her family stuck in terrible poverty and a sick brother unable to get care. Ultimately she did sacrifice herself and as a result was able to bring back money to her family that allowed them to rise above "deathly poverty".

I do not like stripping, prostitution, porn, etc. I think they de-humanize people and typically do not respect the choice to willingly get involved with such things.

This being said, I think Maria was a hero. She made great personal sacrifice in order to save her family. I am sure she was haunted for many years after as a soldier often is from the horrors they witness.

In the end, I think Maria proved a greater level of integrity than I or most people have ever had the opportunity to prove in our life, yet she proved it doing something most of us would consider immoral.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 18 Aug. 2014
By L PHILLIPS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Absolutely honest account of life as a Hong Kong bar girl in the 1990's
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maria's Voice is Pitch Perfect 23 Jun. 2008
By Ana Salas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This story has a wonderfully consistent tone and the voice of Maria ("Mary") is pitch perfect. You'll never doubt you're right there with her as her saga unfolds.

From the Philippines to Hong Kong and back again, this true account weaves intimate personal details with cultural tidbits. Chapter 1 (Simpler Times) sets the stage, showing the close bonds between members of a large Filipino family, particularly the maternal relationships between Mary, her eldest sister, and their mother. The story is set in motion when the elder sister becomes pregnant, ensuring that Mary will have to go to Hong Kong to work as a dancer and make money for the family. Chapter 9 (Mudslide) and Chapter 10 (Barking Dogs) are the "pressure cooker" chapters. Mary has mounting problems, desperately needs money, and is being bullied by the Chinese mamasans. She is in over her head. Mary becomes smarter as the novel unfolds but her ability to live life on her own terms is a cloud that she can't hold onto.

I especially enjoy books that affect me on an emotional level and also give me a chance to ponder social issues. Bars of Steel forced me to question who was responsible for the situation Mary finds herself in when working in the bar. By the end of the story I came to realize that everyone has a share of the blame, as each participant in this story has contributed to it both positively and negatively. Mary and her family are benefactors of the money she earns. Can we really call Mary or her fellow bar girls victims? Bar mates Sheena and Baby are by her side throughout, but they and the other bar girls are also a source of the problem--they exert peer pressure to go out on bar-fines and make even more money to send home to their families. The organizers of the promotion in the Philippines, who send the girls to Hong Kong, could not operate if the girls' parents did not give their okay. The Chinese mamasans are obvious antagonists, but they are only facilitators; they did not create the bar system nor could they continue it by themselves even if they wanted to. The foreign businessmen who frequent the bars are obvious participants, but their patronage hardly qualifies them as perpetrators.

Some years back, I saw the movie El Callejon de los Milagros ("Miracle Alley"). It tells the story of a woman named Alma who "works" the streets of downtown Mexico City. The movie celebrated the different perspectives of each of several main characters. I loved this film (debuting Salma Hayek), but the idea of telling a story from multiple perspectives has been cinematically overdone. Bars of Steel is refreshing in its approach. Telling the story from a single viewpoint makes the transformation from naïve girl to guarded heroine psychologically revealing. I think this book should be considered a top read for anyone wanting to understand the plight of an Asian woman caught in the grips of "grey" prostitution.

This book is memoir at its best. The story stays with you. You'll find yourself thinking back upon the story with a shared sense of wonder and optimism about Mary's conflicted days spent as a bar girl.

Ana Salas
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three Cheers for Maria and Her Story 26 Nov. 2011
By Myst5d - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I love the authenticity this memoir delivers! Maria proves that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. She's a survivor who defines her limits; she knows when to stay firm and when to bend.

Bars of Steel is extremely well written. The imagery of each chapter introduction helps to set the tone in this tender, tragic, triumphant account.

To Lifewriters everywhere -- Read great writing to write great reading -- which is why you must read Bars of Steel.
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