<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=192888919167017&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Sunday,  July 21 , 2024

Linkedin Pinterest
News / Northwest

Seattle strip club becomes first in Washington to serve alcohol in decades

By Lauren Girgis, The Seattle Times
Published: June 17, 2024, 2:18pm

Jun. 14—Can’t decide if you want to go to a strip club or a bar this Saturday? Thanks to a state law that recently took effect, you won’t have to choose.

A Seattle strip club is the first in Washington to get a liquor license in nearly 50 years. A law passed this year paved the way by requiring the liquor and cannabis board to repeal a comparatively Victorian statute — the majority of U.S. states already allow alcohol in adult entertainment establishments.

Dream Girls, a Sodo “gentleman’s club,” began serving alcohol this month.

“This is something we have been working towards for a long time and couldn’t be happier to finally be serving alcohol,” managing partner Eric Forbes said in a news release. “It will really bring an already great experience for the club and make it even better.”

With about 11 statewide, Washington has relatively few strip clubs. Nearby Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any other U.S. city at one per every 11,826 residents, according to the Oregon Historical Society. A landmark 1987 Oregon Supreme Court decision, State v. Henry, protected nudity as free speech under the First Amendment. A handful of other states mandate that clubs with full nudity do not serve alcohol, but it isn’t common.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a bill dubbed the “Strippers’ Bill of Rights” in March. It took effect in June. The law mandated the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board repeal a regulation prohibiting lewd conduct in establishments with a liquor license. The “lewd conduct” law had been in place since 1975 and prohibited liquor licensees from allowing employees to be unclothed or exposing any portion of the breast below the areola — which usually happens in a strip club.

The Liquor and Cannabis Board suspended enforcement of the rule in February after inspectors said they viewed violations at three Seattle LGBTQ+ nightlife venues, drawing sharp criticism.

In 2020, an adult entertainment advisory committee recommended allowing liquor licensing to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries due to safety and security concerns. According to the 2020 report, customers would consume alcohol off-site, where they can’t be monitored by staff, and there were high “house fees” paid by dancers to clubs as a result of the businesses having limited revenue streams.

This meant dancers often had to compete with each other and might be more likely to perform for customers they did not feel comfortable around, the committee said. Most dancers in the state are independent contractors who are paid by customers and must pay club fees every shift. The new law caps fees at $150 or 30% of the amount dancers make during their shift — whichever is less.

State law already required any licensed strip club to be 21 and over. In a fiscal note issued in March, the liquor board estimated there would be a small increase in enforcement actions should the state’s strip clubs get licensed and raise the number of licensees.

Washington’s new law also requires panic buttons in any room where an entertainer may be alone with a guest, a security guard at each club, keypad codes to enter dressing rooms and training for employees on preventing sexual harassment.

Loading...