The Lodge, Oxford’s only adult entertainment venue, is opening on the 17th November after receiving a licence to operate outside the town centre.
In April this year it lost its licence to host strippers and lap-dancers when changes to the law classed such acts as a form of sexual entertainment. Its previous location, near the Westgate Centre in the centre of town, was denied the special permission needed after extensive lobbying by OUSU, feminist groups, and St Ebbe’s Church, which stood just fifty yards away.
It has since obtained a licence for a new venue near Oxford Ice Rink on Oxpens Road. Al Thompson, the manager of The Lodge Gentlemen’s Club, commented that the new location was “absolutely perfect”, that they were “very happy with the outcome” and that “the club will be more popular, have a better layout, and be even bigger” than it was at its former premises.
“It will be much much much much much more spectacular!” Thompson enthused.
The Oxford Feminists Network however, remain unhappy about the club, spokesperson Andie Berryman telling Cherwell, “I am whole-heartedly against the opening of a lap dancing club in Oxford, I don’t believe a city like ours which is cosmopolitan, progressive and indeed full of the finest minds in the world should permit such a retro-sexist, exploitative practice.
“It doesn’t matter whether the club is in the city centre or on Oxpens road, if it exists it’s a major problem. Oxford Feminist Network will continue to protest and challenge this licence.”
Thompson responded to such criticism by stating, “We are meeting the needs of a client base in Oxford and if there wasn’t demand then we wouldn’t exist. I think we’re good operators, we run a fine business, and we add something to the nightlife of Oxford.”
St Ebbe’s Church, which was amongst the most vocal dissent groups earlier this year, have said that they will not challenge the latest decision stating, “We recognise the Council has now made a decision and we do not wish to give the club any more publicity.”
Rector Vaughan Roberts did comment that “our position has not changed” and that he believes “[The Lodge] demeans God’s good gift of sex and undermines marriage.”
Some members of the St Anne’s and St John’s rugby team took a more light-hearted approach to the issue, simply commenting “Yes!” upon hearing the club was re-opening.
OUSU Women’s Vice-President, Yuan Yang however, was angered by the news, claiming, “Debates about the morality of lap-dancing clubs too often centre on the visitor, not the workers. The Women’s Campaign is most concerned about the working conditions facing lap dancers. The sex industry as a whole is hugely under-unionised and lacks the protection necessary for such high-risk work.
“Lap dancers compete for tips; they are actively encouraged to break rules about keeping distance, keeping safe, and keeping sane, so that they will be noticed and favoured by the men who pay them. ”
Some students are unbothered by the plans however, Joe Lea, Entz rep at Magdalen commenting, “If people want to take their clothes off, that’s fine with me.”
Christian Allen, an engineering student at New, told Cherwell, “I wouldn’t say it will be popular, more of a one off thing, but I think people will go. I’ve not been before but that doesn’t mean it’s out of the question. There have certainly been opportunities to go with groups of people from college.”
All girls working for the club are described as independent workers who are self-employed. The venue will employ on average thirty girls a night and will offer special services, such as personal lap dances for the groom at stag dos, VIP rooms for birthday parties or corporate events, and private nude dances on request.
Kath Tolentino, a post-grad feminist defended the club saying, “There are plenty of people out there who enjoy watching this kind of thing and plenty of girls who don’t mind doing it. I don’t see a problem with having it there.”
The opening three nights of the club will be celebrated by burlesque shows and other unannounced acts.