'Dancers for Democracy' Protest Proposed Strip Club Rules in Ohio's Capitol" - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/1/2007

'Dancers for Democracy' Protest Proposed Strip Club Rules in Ohio's Capitol"

TOLEDO OHIO -- They call themselves "Dancers for Democracy," and today they'll protest near Ohio's capitol to tell state lawmakers to "butt out" and let them do their thing.  A bill being debated by the Ohio Senate would restrict nudity after midnight in exotic dance clubs and require the dancers and patrons to stay at least six feet apart.  Those new rules, the dancers say, would put them out of business.

Dancers at Deja Vu, a club in south Toledo, will be part of that protest.  Right now, the dancers can do their thing until the club closes at 4:00am, but under Senate Bill 16, nude dancing would have to end at midnight.  The club could still serve alcohol after midnight, but some say the club would go under.

"You can still come in and drink until 2:00, but at the same time if they're coming in just to have a drink, they're just going to be sitting there with nothing," said 19-year-old Sarah, who says she dances at the club to pay for college.  "It's just the same thing as going to a bar."

A few years ago, the city of Toledo passed a new law requiring dancers to be at least two feet away from their customers.  Night club owners said they could live with that.  The new state law would require the dancers to move back four more feet to a total six feet.

They say that would change the experience and the number of tips and customers coming in.  "I would not be able to touch your clothing at all," said Sarah.  "I mean, you can't come into contact, like you can't even come up behind and touch their arm and just say, 'How are you, may I sit down with you?'"

The six-foot rule will cause wages to drop off dramatically and force many of the dancers into minimum wage jobs, said Charity Fickisen, a Columbus dancer and chairwoman of "Dancers for Democracy."

The new bill would also affect "Platinum Showgirls" on Alexis and Telegraph Road.  The owner told us on the phone that the bill is unconstitutional.  "You can go to a club and you can salsa dance with a girl," said Tony Dia, owner of Platinum.  "I think salsa dancing is more erotic than even lap dancing. It's just crazy."

According to "Dancers for Democracy," those who violate the rule could be found guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor, which the group points out is the same level of offense for negligent homicide or menacing by stalking.

Several dancers from both Toledo clubs will be in Columbus for Tuesday's rally against the bill.  A final legislative hearing for the bill is set for Wednesday.

Posted by AEB

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