City Commission Passes Resolution Banning Nude Dancing

At last night’s City Commission meeting, the Grand Rapids City Commission voted 6 to 1 to pass a resolution banning nude dancing and restricting what can take place in “sexually oriented businesses” located in the city of Grand Rapids. The resolution was passed with only minor wording changes after being tabled two weeks ago when Commissioner Rick Tormala raised concerns that a ban on total nudity would not survive an anticipated legal challenge. Commissioner Tormala was the only Commissioner to vote against the resolution, citing the fact that he favored a more “defendable” resolution that would have allowed full nudity but restricted contact between performers and patrons. The new resolution bans total nudity, bans contact between dancers and patrons, requires performers to be on a stage six-feet from patrons, and requires that all existing clubs come into compliance within 180 days.

As has been the case throughout the debate, the corporate media framed the passage of the resolution primarily in terms of morality, with WXMI summarizing the issue as “a battle of the first amendment versus morality,” WOOD TV quoting Black Hills Citizens for a Better Community member Judy Rose as saying “it’s going to make Grand Rapids a nice place to live, instead of a place where you can go and find smut.” This angle has been hyped repeatedly over the past eight months, with the media focusing on the moral aspects of the sex industry while ignoring the economic realities of the sex industry and the ways in which strip clubs reinforce patriarchy. Opponents of the resolution, speaking primarily at public hearings held by the City Commission, attempted to exploit this angle by labeling proponents of the resolution as “Puritans” that had little understanding of what goes on in a strip club. Additionally, club owners also criticized opponents as people who did not understand the industry and who sought to impose their morality on others.

The resolution will likely face a legal challenge in the coming months, with Herb Newhouse, owner of the Red Barn, and Mark London, owner of Showgirl Galleria, pledging to fight the ordinance.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org