Thirst Lodge has had its licence as a venue for sexual entertainment removed, after an Oxford County Council hearing at the beginning of this month.
The lap dancing club, which is described on its website as a \”late night music and cocktail bar\”, had its licence revoked on the grounds that \”a sexual entertainment venue at the premises would be inappropriate, having regard to the character of the relevant locality\”.
Located only 50 yards from St. Ebbes Church in Pennyfarthing Place, there had been a sustained campaign to have the venue closed down. The rector of the Church, the Rev Vaughan Roberts, described how they were \”delighted\” at the Council\’s decision, which they believed, \”should put out a very clear message that this sort of premises is not welcome in our city centres.\”
A student from Wadham commented, \”A lapdancing club isn\’t something that I\’m comfortable imagining in Oxford-St Ebbe\’s is nearby\”.
However, not all students were in favour of the council\’s decision. Emily Mock, a visiting student at St. Catherine\’s, said, \”I think it\’s unneccesary social management, and I think they\’re being irresponsible revoking a license without any substantial evidence of crime in the area.\”
Al Thompson, an owner of The Lodge described claims that lapdancing clubs caused crime in the surrounding areas as \”speculation\” and \”rubbish\”.
\”Most people who walk past don\’t have a clue what it is, there\’s no external advertising, just a couple of doormen after 9.30pm.\”
One Pembroke First YearÂ admitted that \”it was quite saddening to see what some of these girls felt obliged to do just to earn a living.\”
Whilst OUSU Vice President for Women, Katharine Terrell, described the Council\’s decision as \”inevitable, given the religious and local opposition\”, she stated that she was not explicitly against lap dancing \”per se\”.
She added, \”it\’s important to distinguish between being against the objectification and exploitation of women versus judging or condemning the women involved.\”
OUSU had passed a motion condemning lap dancing at The Lodge in February last year.
Under the 2003 Licensing Act, lap dancing was treated as a form of dance, which meant that venues such as The Lodge did not have to apply for a separate licence for sexual entertainment.
Changes to the law in 2009 put lap dancing clubs into the same category as other providers of sexual entertainment, such as sex shops. Whilst Oxford City Council initially granted The Lodge a new licence in December 2009, a resolution passed in April 2010 meant that they had to reapply.
The Council resolution stated, \”sexual entertainment venues are not generally appropriate near…historic buildings or tourist attractions, schools, play areas, nurseries, children\’s centres or similar premises, shopping complexes, residential areas, places of worship\”.
Oxford City Council were keen to emphasise that The Lodge could continue to operate as a normal bar and club. Lap dancing at the club will have to end in June.