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Christine Steinmetz does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. However, in this institutional landscape of staunch conservative values, a fascinating and unique anomaly exists in plain view in the capital, Santiago. They serve up a combination of generally mediocre coffee and an erotic ambience designed to promote a subtle sexual frisson between client — predominately male — and waitress — predominantly young and attractive.
Further reading: Flat white urbanism: there must be better ways to foster a vibrant street life. The varying degrees of undress depend on the location and target clientele. Our research on this somewhat contentious land use within greater Santiago began in late We conducted web searches to compile addresses from chat forums specialising in adult entertainment, combined with a variety of bibliographic references in online articles to provide a virtual snapshot.
Initially, we identified venues online. They are typically closed because of non-compliant activities. Often offering seating outside, these are places that attract curious tourists and where you can have coffee with your parents. No food is served. This is typically at a long elaborately styled bar with mirrored walls, along which the girls parade, often pausing to flirt briefly with favoured clients.
Level 2: These are are located behind blacked-out windows. They tend to be in enclosed gallerias and malls, and often have loud music blaring from within. The dark, minimal interior, about five metres square, has the general ambience of a classic strip club. Extreme stripper heels are the footwear of choice. Typically, they do not allow women inside. Further reading: No harm done? Lots of cities contain aspects of sexual and social repression.
But what has caused Santiago to evolve these intriguing hybrid outlets? And why are they tolerated in such a conservative society? They may also reflect the sexual constraints imposed by the dominant religion, or simply a biological desire for attractive young female company.