Sheffield's 'hard-working and professional' lapdancers hit back at Spearmint Rhino objecters

Spearmint Rhino in Sheffield.
Spearmint Rhino in Sheffield.
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Sheffield lapdancers have defended their profession in the face of further objections to a city centre club.

Sheffield Council's licence committee will consider Spearmint Rhino's application to renew the sexual entertainment venue licence that has allowed it to operate from Brown Street for 15 years next week.

There have been 98 objections to the council ahead of next Tuesday's meeting, with letters of support from 16 people - including some of the club's dancers.

The authority is currently rethinking its sex establishment policy, and a key aspect is to limit the number of sexual entertainment venues within the city borders to two.

Spearmint Rhino and La Chambre swingers club in Attercliffe already have licenses, so no more would be allowed under the proposed policy.

Many of the objections to Spearmint Rhino use a template letter provided by Zero Option, a campaign trying to make Sheffield a 'lapdancing club free' city.

The letter focuses on gender equality, and the club's proximity to areas used by children, tourists and charities that help vulnerable people;

It says: "I believe that a sexual entertainment venue directly discriminates against women by normalising the sexualisation and objectification of women, and that this contributes to their sexualisation and objectification in other areas of society."

The letter adds: "A sexual entertainment venue in the heart of the city, or anywhere in the city, is simply completely contradictory to everything that the council says it stands for, everything that the council should stand for, and has a duty to work towards."

One objector said she had recently given up their studio at nearby Yorkshire Artspace as a result of the club.

She added: "The area is meant to be an arts quarter and the presence of Spearmint Rhino degrades the arts and makes it unsafe for women like myself."

But others supported the club, including current and former staff.

One woman said she had been able to fund a law degree through dancing at Spearmint Rhino, and was now a full-time legal executive for a top firm - but still worked part-time at the club.

She added: "I cannot praise Spearmint Rhino enough as an employer and as such I do intend to continue working there for the forseeable future."

Another, who said she was a 35-year-old professional relationship coach and mother of two children, began working at the club last year.

"I have never seen any trouble," she said. "The worst thing I have seen is an over-inebriated customer fall asleep in his chair, and then he was politely asked to leave."

She added: "Some may believe we are a sordid, seedy hoard of perverts when actually we are quite the opposite.

"We are a little community of hard-working, confident, sexy people who share an interest and appreciation of the female body and erotic dancing.

"We are a professional business, like any other, the only difference is ours is frowned upon because ours incorporates nudity."

The licensing meeting will take place in the Town Hall at 10am on April 11.

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