Is lap dancing offensive to women?

By Izzy Fairbairn
Newsbeat reporter


With the government one step away from putting lap and pole dancing clubs in the same category as adult cinemas and sex shops, not everyone's happy with planned changes to the law.

Hundreds of lap and pole dancing clubs have sprung up in the UK since they started being licensed in the same way as nightclubs, bars and cafes in 2004.

Campaigners want the clubs to be reclassified as "sex encounter establishments" - the same category as adult cinemas and sex shops - instead of falling under the "entertainment venue" bracket.

In England and Wales, the Bill that would make this happen is already through the initial stages, and is being debated in the House of Lords.

If they give it the go ahead, the law is going to change.

But some dancers told Newsbeat the term would stigmatise performers and they do not want to be classified as sex workers.

"What we do here it's not sex, we have fun, a bit of a giggle. To put it in that category just cheapens it," said dancer Jasmine, 21.

Another dancer said it would push up the price of her profession.

In clubs around the country, dancers already pay a fee to work and are charged fines for missing their turn on the pole or arriving late.

If the clubs are reclassified as "sex encounter establishments," it would cost the owners far more money to obtain a licence and they would be far more tightly regulated.

"If the licence changes, we're going to be the ones who pay for it," said Sevannah, a 21-year-old dancer from Bournemouth.

'Promote sexism'

Others are much happier about the planned changes to the law.

Sandrine Leveque, from human rights group Object, said lap dancing clubs promote sexism.

"Our campaign is stripping the illusion that buying a lap dance is like buying a latte.

"You might not be buying sex, but you're buying someone to turn you on - and that makes it a sex encounter venue," she said.

Councils have complained they do not have enough control over clubs.

Changing the way lap dancing clubs are licensed in England and Wales will give local residents the opportunity to protest.

"The government's very much in favour of giving power to local people to determine what happens in their areas", said the minister for crime reduction, Alan Campbell.

Peter Stringfellow, owner of Stringfellows lapdancing clubs, said he does not like the name "sex encounter" but thinks it won't make a difference "as long as [I don't] have to put it on a big sign".

"I'm a businessman and I don't see anything wrong in what I do," he added.

Similar changes are being introduced in Scotland in September, while in Northern Ireland local councils already decide whether to license clubs.

Hear more in the documentary Save The Last Dance on our sister station 1Xtra.

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