Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lets Close Every Club in Tower Hamlets - Part 2

Tower Hamlets Councils attempt to close every club in the borough is finding itself bedevilled by all sorts of complications…

First we had the Public Consultation which closed in early October 2011, the results of which still have not been released and the latest position is that it is ‘hoped’ that the final result will be made known by April 2012.

This blog revealed that Michael Collins (Chair of CAPE) has previously unrevealed property interests that could be affected by the councils decision to adopt to the nil policy.

Now we have The White Swan campaigning to have themselves exempted from the scope of the proposed legislation. In fact Tower Hamlets Council were presented with a 600 signature petition on November 29th 2011 by Daryl Stafford, a DJ at the venue.

What is the background to the issue and why does it make things complicated for the Council?

The White Swn is one of the oldest venues that caters for the LGBT community in the East End and every Wednesday it has a comedy amateur strip night. This alone places it within the scope of the boroughs nil policy and quite rightly many people are fighting on the side of the venue.

Tower Hamlets has something of a reputation for homophobic behaviour. This posting from Andrew Gilligans blog details many disturbing acts of quite frankly appalling behaviour, some which took place within the Council Chamber itself.

Let me make it clear that we support the right of The White Swan to exist, if it loses its Wednesday Comedy Strip Night it will be a disaster for the venue. As Daryl Stafford himself said.,,

"…Wednesday is our only busy weeknight. If they kill off our Wednesday nights, we'll be threatened with closure..."

That said, Daryl Stafford said some other things that show that he is misinformed on the striptease industry.

"The legislation was originally set up to stop women being exploited and coerced into the sex trade”.

This is an unfair point of differentiation. To my knowledge there has never been a case of a stripper in Tower Hamlets being either ‘exploited’ or ‘coerced into the sex trade’.

"But there are no women involved in this. It's a men only night and stripping is voluntary."

Daryl seems not to understand how other strip venues work. Stripping is entirely voluntary because female strippers choose to follow that profession and choose to work in particular club. Also to say that The White Swan runs a ‘men only night’ is also ill judged. Is Daryl saying that women are not allowed to attend, because I think that is against the law or is Daryl saying that the only dancers are men.

Sorry? ..........Run that past me again.

So having naked women dancers is bad thing, but naked men dancers are cool and should be exempt. 

Really......don't think so actually......

Cllr Peter Golds has also weighed in with his viewpoint…

"I, like most reasonably minded people, have concerns about scantily clad women being exploited”.

Cllr Golds, please explain what is reasonably minded about being concerned about exploitation when there is not a single shred of evidence that it has happened in any Tower Hamlets strip club.

"But consenting adults looking for a laugh, a joke and comedy is not exploitation."

If that is the case, there is no exploitation in Tower Hamlets strip clubs, because the dancers actually get paid for their trouble and the crowd are also consenting adults look for a laugh...

"It's fun. It's introduced by drag artists. It could probably be at any hen night in the country," he added.

So Cllr Golds, on the basis of your comments, if I was to open a pub, that every Wednesday night that featured comedians and volunteer female strippers, would you support my venues exemption from the ‘Nil Policy’? I think Object would go absolutely crazy and I do not think Cllr Rania Khan would be entirely happy with the idea either....

Cllr Golds what are you saying? That women in strip clubs that are licensed and supervised by doormen are at greater risk that the men that turn up at the White Swan and volunteer to strip on stage? Is it because women maybe are naive and need protecting whereas gay men are cool and streetwise and can look after themselves? It is because the women are paid to do what they do and the gay men are not? Is it because that exploitation and coercion into the sex industry is not an issue within the gay community?

It should be clear to any reasonably minded person that if Tower Hamlets Council close every strip club, but let the one venue that feature male performers stay open, then they are asking for what will be an amazingly expensive dose of court action. In fact the idea is so rooted in discriminatory practice that it is laughable...

Finally, a message for Daryl Stafford. I note that when you presented your petition to the council, it was received by Rania Khan. You may wish to follow this link and see what The Daily Telegraph had to say about her last year.

If you all stick together, you will all survive...

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