NY’s Highest Court: Nude Dancing Not An Art Form
“The court’s decision is heartening in that it does not allow an entity that exploits women to pretend that it actually employs such women for “dramatic or musical arts performance.” Pole dancing and lap dancing constitute sexual exploitation of women by men – if it’s going to be legal for men to buy women in this way, government should at least tax the hell out of it.” (Cathy Brennan, lawyer activist)
New York’s highest court ruled on Tuesday that lap dances are not comparable to other artistic endeavors such as ballet and should remain taxable. The court was split 4-3 on the decision. The lawsuit, filed by Nite Moves in Albany, argued that fees for admission to the strip club and for private dances are exempt from sales taxes.
I agree with the court’s decision. I do think the club’s owners were trying to selfishly capitalize on exotic dance’s shift into the mainstream. What upsets me about the coverage of this story though, is that there is no distinction being made between stripping and exotic dance itself. And as most of us in the pole community are probably aware, there most definitely is a distinction.
I am not trying to remove strippers’ contribution to the art of pole and exotic dance. The form many women practice for fitness today has roots in strip clubs. Some women feel uncomfortable with this connection but it is the reality of the situation. We must make peace with this fact and accept it or we would be acting in a hypocritical fashion. However…exotic dance, and pole dancing specifically, has expanded far beyond what it initially was. No questions asked. It can now not only be erotic, but athletic, lyrical, modern and so much more. I love the sensual element of pole dance. But I love that it is diverse as well.
I don’t know if the general public will ever remove pole dancing from its strip club stigma. Cirque du Soleil has been one of the leaders in helping pole dancing gain recognition as an art form though. It all began when they featured pole artist Felix Cane in their adult-themed show Zumanity in 2003. This portrayed pole artistically, but there was still an underlying sensual element to it. They have since expanded pole to be featured in shows such as Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour. Jenyne Butterfly is currently working with the company to unveil a major aerial and pole act.
I think that exotic dance can be artistic, even when performed in a venue such as a strip club. But there is no way to separate its various forms. As was suggested by the dissenting judges in this case, there’s no distinction in state law between “highbrow dance and lowbrow dance,” so that raises “significant constitutional problems.” There are also far too many people who would look to take advantage of such a situation.
Maybe the distinction comes when clothes come off. Either way, pole performed in a specific way can be incredibly artistic. Ms. Brennan’s comment on the matter was completely ignorant and misinformed. Pole dancing constitutes sexual exploitation of women by men? Tell Oona Kivelä that.