The corporate media reported today that United States District Court Judge Robert Bell ruled said in a preliminary hearing that the City of Grand Rapids can enforce its ordinance regulating nude dancing. The ordinance, which requires a minimal amount of clothing for dancers, keeps patrons six feet from dancers, and restricts operating hours, was allowed to go into effect because Judge Bell determined that a lawsuit filed by strip clubs challenging the ordinance did not have a “substantial likelihood of success.” Enforcement of the ordinance, passed back in April, had been delayed until Bell’s ruling as the City’s lawyers agreed to wait until for this preliminary hearing before enforcing the ordinance. As of 12:01am Saturday, the City can now begin enforcing the ordinance, although in the Grand Rapids Press Assistant City Attorney Catherine Mish said that whether or not it would be enforced tonight is “a question for Police Chief Harry Dolan.” Additional rulings on the strip clubs’ challenging the ordinance on constitutional grounds will be made on October 20, 2006 as Bell did not rule on the city’s request for dismissal of the lawsuits.
Showgirl Galleria—the proposed all-nude club in downtown Grand Rapids that in many ways triggered the ordinance—has still not opened in downtown despite initial plans to open in 2005. While the club did open temporarily as a sort of “publicity stunt” likely designed to gain media coverage, the Club has yet to open with nude dancing (a store selling “adult” merchandise is in operation) due in part to public and legal opposition. London was quoted in the media stating that his businesses (Showgirl Galleria and Sensations) will become “non sexually-oriented businesses” with dancers (London refers to them as “girls”) dressing in bikinis and covering their buttocks and breasts as of 12:01am Saturday. Other strip clubs—namely the Red Barn and Parkway Tropics—will be doing the same, with Parkway Tropics taping off a portion of their stage to keep dancers six feet from customers and requiring dancers to put on bikinis before approaching customers for tips. Of course, the fact that semi-nude dancing continues to be allowed means that more work remains to be done in combating the strip clubs and the negative consequences of pornography and the sex industry, with a considerable amount of work being left undone to confront the patriarchal aspects of such businesses instead of only confronting the moral aspects.