Proud Feels Pinch Over Burlesque Shows

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 108 months ago
Proud Feels Pinch Over Burlesque Shows

Miss Polly Rae by WowtheWorld
Camden Council have ordered the immediate halt of burlesque nights at the Proud Gallery, demanding that the venue apply for a similar license to those held by strip joints and lap-dancing clubs. Under pre-existing but newly-enforced laws, local establishments Koko and the Roundhouse, which play host to burlesque nights, will also be forced to apply for the license.

Burlesque has had a respectable rebirth in the last few years, and London now hosts an annual Burlesque and Variety Fringe festival, but Camden's decision threatens to re-open the tired debate about whether burlesque is first and foremost an overtly sexual performance, or a form of artistic expression — an issue most of the performers want to leave behind. Proud Gallery's owner, Alex Proud, complained that "the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law is being enforced."

According to the Council, however, any such "entertainment of an adult nature" needs to have the proper licensing. Specifically:

"Any premises in the borough that wish to offer entertainment involving nudity, striptease or other entertainment of an adult nature will need approval from the licensing authority - burlesque falls within this criteria."

Perhaps there's merit in organising a fundraiser to take the undersexed office drones at Camden on a trip to a burlesque club so they can judge for themselves whether it's really the same as a dingy peeler bar.

Last Updated 29 April 2009


Oh come on. "Undersexed office drones"? What is this, Carry On Blogging?

Which bit of the council statement are you disagreeing with? Does burlesque not involve nudity or striptease now? What exactly is the clear difference between strip clubs and burlesque clubs that means you should license one and not the other?

Or is it just that paying to see someone's tits might get all awkward and shabby again? Awwww.

lee jackson

The current vogue for 'burlesque' often seems to include women taking their clothes off, and adopting a range of sexual poses. It may be slightly reductive to call it 'paying to see someone's tits' but I don't think it's grossly unfair. Whether we should actually need to license this, or object to it ... well, surely it's open to debate, tired or otherwise?

Camden Council, however, are just doing their job. I think it's a tad unfair to castigate them. If the law is 'newly enforced', I suspect it's because burlesque in its 'revived' form is relatively new to the capital, and councils take a while to catch up.

My own concern about burlesque is not that bare flesh is immoral, or that people shouldn't portray sexuality for commercial gain. It's that our perception of sex is becoming increasingly media-dominated; that sex-as-a-performance - porn - voyeurism - is increasingly the context in which young girls get their messages about sex; that eg. love - or even the concept of two happy people just having mutual fun together - doesn't get a look-in.

Burlesque isn't responsible for all my worries, of course. I wouldn't ban it; I probably wouldn't even license it. But, hmm, I can't say I like it.