the Spread of Sleaze

Oh to have been a fly on the wall yeaterday at a Commons Culture Committee hearing on lap dance legislation. It appears that evidence was given by both Peter Stringfellow, that paragon of taste and decorum, and Simon Warr, owner of Spearmint Rhino, whose chain of lap dance clubs employs thousands of dancers across the UK.

So let’s just be clear. Current Labour legislation says that you can open a lap dance club by applying under the same planning law as you would use to open a cafe, restaurant or tea room. Which is patently laughable nonsense. The Culture Committee are considering whether to make the law stricter, so that lap dance clubs fall under the aegis of “sex encounter” establishments.

A range of interesting views were exchanged, not least that Peter Stringfellow felt that the phrase ‘lap dancing club’ was a derogatory term, and that they were only as sexually stimulating as ‘a disco’ or ‘David Beckham lying there in his Calvin Kleins’.

Mr Warr on the other hand felt his clibs were ‘not sexually titillating. The purpose of the club is to provide entertainment.”

The real truth came a little later, when Mr Stringfellow explained that ‘sexual encounter’ licences in London cost some £30,000 each – clearly a little more than a licence to serve Earl Grey and jam scones.

Tunbridge Wells has narrowly escaped lap dancing clubs in recent weeks. It will be interesting to see whether the Commons Culture Committee can be hoodwinked into preserving the status quo, or whether they can truly stand by their morals and stop the spread of sleaze.


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