Popular night club Thirst Lodge has received a new license allowing the performance of pole dancing and lap dancing on the premises.
A motion condemning the lap dancing plans was passed at OUSU Council on Wednesday.

The motion was put forward by Yuan Yang and Lizzie Bauer, who told Cherwell, “When clubs are granted lap dancing licenses, studies in London, Nottingham and Scotland have shown that it comes with an increase in violence, harassment, sexual assault and rape in the surrounding area. Because of this, passersby, especially women, may feel threatened walking past the area at night, and OUSU should fight to ensure that all the students it represents feel safe in Oxford.”

OUSU will now join the Women’s Campaign in urging students to refrain from visiting Thirst Lodge and holding University events at the bar while it is registered as a sex encounter establishment.

Thirst Lodge originally applied for the lap dancing license in January last year, but withdrew the application following local outcry. The second application was approved in December 2009.

The application provoked anger amongst local residents and students, especially members of St. Ebbe’s Church, which is opposite the lodge.
Church manager, Mark Abraham, said: “To have a pub right on our doorstep promoting lap- dancing would only serve to harm the Gospel at St Ebbe’s and Oxford at large.”

Residents were also angered as they felt Greene King, the brewery that owns Thirst Lodge, kept them in the dark about their intentions and did not leave them enough time to protest the decision.

Abraham said, “Once again, Greene King did not tell us of their intentions, leaving us with very little time to object.”

Elaine Beckett, a spokesperson for Greene King, commented, “We believe the operators of Thirst Lodge are experienced and as such will ensure the premises are operated in a professional manner at all times.”

In response to fears about the welfare of students and residents, Oxford City Council said, “The licence has conditions appended to it which, amongst other things, cover public safety. Licensing Officers will monitor the premises as part of our inspection programme and we will of course follow up any matters referred to us by the public.”

Some JCRs have supported OUSU’s opposition of the lap dancing license. St. Hilda’s passed an identical motion in their JCR meeting last Sunday.

St. Hilda’s JCR President Jesse Harber said, “We felt that if the statistics cited in the motion were true, then there was a clear and present danger to the women of Oxford in the granting of this license. Strip clubs use women as objects of sexual gratification, and contribute to a culture where women are regarded as such even outside of ‘sex encounters’ venues.

The danger isn’t that women will be snatched from the streets outside the club – it’s that men will leave the club believing slightly more that women are there for nothing but their own pleasure.”

However, not all students have expressed such concern. One third-year Christ Church student said, “I could not be more thrilled to hear that such refinements are now coming to Thirst Lodge. We have been starved for too long of such fine establishments in Oxford. I know where I’ll be having every one of my nights out.”

During OUSU Council, concerns were raised that it appeared to be a motion passing judgement on women working who may work at the club. Yang assured the meeting that the focus of the campaign was student safety and supporting the residential community around Thirst Lodge.

A third-year St. Hilda’s student said, “Oxford has always been a safe and fun place to go out and I think by introducing something that could be seen as derogatory then it could encourage unacceptable behaviour.”

Thirst Lodge were unavailable for comment.