CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Parker’s bid for new licence amid Women’s Equality Party campaign against lap-dancing clubs

Anonymised statements from performers say they do not feel degraded

21 February, 2019 — By Richard Osley

A LAP-DANCING club in Holborn has become the latest adult entertainment venue to provide testimonies from its own performers about how happy they say they are in their jobs, amid calls from equality campaigners for strip clubs to be shut down.

Councillors are due to decide tonight (Thursday) on a licence renewal for Parkers, in Kingsway, with members of the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) and the Not Buying It campaign once again due to argue that topless entertainment should be halted across the borough.

The New Journal reported earlier this month how Spearmint Rhino, in Tottenham Court Road, and  The Griffin, in Clerkenwell Road, had seen their licences renewed despite deputations from objectors who question whether the businesses contravene the council’s own equality ambitions by failing to foster good relations between men and women.

In both of those cases, the venues submitted anonymised statements from lap-dancers who said they did not agree with the WEP’s view that this form of entertainment is degrading to women.

A former figure-skater who represented Great Britain internationally and is now working at Spearmint Rhino was among the performers who wrote in support of the club.

Camden has a full ban on new lap-dancing clubs opening in the borough but has allowed existing venues to apply for renewals each year. Ahead of this week’s meeting, Parkers filed testimonies from two of its performers.

A mother-of-three told the licensers that the work was flexible, meaning she got to spend time with her children.

“I love the dressing up element and I have a lot of fun working as a dancer,” she said. “I am very good at talking and I love to meet new people. To get paid for using these skills and for doing something I love is a bonus.”

Another performer, a 38-year-old marketing graduate, said: “Dancing suits my lifestyle. I can get things done in the daytime, work when I want to and I make enough money to live a comfortable life. It is my choice to work as a dancer. No one forced me to work as a dancer.”

The WEP remain sceptical about the use of dancer statements in recent cases and say that their opposition is not about individual performers and that anonymised witness statements do not address wider concerns about the effects of adult entertainment.

“Each strip club thwarts the council’s stated aim to provide an appropriate, safe, inclusive, culturally sensitive environment for all women, children – and men,” an objection letter said.

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