Pole Dancing Instructor Denied Permit to open Business

Every now an then, imperialistic small-town governments bite off more than they can chew.  I think this is a good example.  The New York Times is reporting that Stephanie Babines, 30, was denied a permit to open a dance studio in Adams Township, PA. Apparently,two years ago, Ms. Babines began offering instruction in pole dancing, power lap dancing, salsa and other forms of dance and fitness in peoples’ homes and in rented space in a dance studio at night and on weekends.

However, in March, the Adams Township code enforcement officer, Gary Peaco, denied her occupancy permit, ruling that her studio was an adult business and was illegally within 1,000 feet of a bar and a residential area. The A.C.L.U. has sued to overturn that decision. (Source)

Mr. Peaco said he had reached his decision after noticing the black and pink color scheme of Ms. Babine’s Web site — www.ohmyyouregorgeous.com — and the high-heeled shoe in her logo. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

In addition, Mr. Peaco testified that even though the dance instruction did not involve nudity and there would be no audience, the dance styles were “provocative” and involved sexual “innuendo.” OH MY GOD! The Steve Buscemi character from I now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry must have been based on this guy.

Dancing styles that were provocative and involved sexual innuendo? Imagine that! I guess that there will be no tango, rumba, merengue and salsa in Adams Township.

This reminds me of a movie…

… Somebody call Kevin Bacon!

(Read the NYT story here)

Comments:

  1. Well, the first sentence in this blog posting says it all “imperialistic small-town governments”. I guess Gary Peaco, code enformcement officer, has now become the town’s self-appointed morals police with total disregard for the zoning code he is obligated to enforce. Who is policing this man and his decisions?
    I was glad to see that the ACLU had included the township “officials” in the civil suit that they brought to the District Court. I agree wholehartely in the facts stated in the suit that Stephanie Babines has not met any of the Zoning requirements for an “adult” entertainment establishment (§ 192-6), Her business is not an adult bookstore, adult theatre or a cabaret.
    When pole dancing is so main stream that it is discussed and apprears in a positive light on the Oprah show featuring a small town girl from, of all places, Colorado Springs, Mr. Peaco and the town don’t have a leg to stand on (pun intended).
    With the national obesidy numbers skyrocketing, the township should be glad to see a fitness oriented business in their area especially when the CDC reported that in 2007 Pennsylvania had 25-29% obesity numbers. Having lived in the northeast, I think those numbers for Pennsylvania are low. I hope the court finds in Stephanie Babines’ favor and all the media attention gives Stephanie Babines lots of business.

    Comment by Ann Auerbach on September 10, 2008 at 3:02 pm

  2. I, too, read this article in the NYT. The Adams township has ruled quite conservatively, and may, in fact, be violating Ms. Babine’s first amendment rights. If classes at the dance studio are performed fully clothed, and no sexual activity occurs, it would appear that Ms. Babine has a valid case.

    Comment by Cynthia Braun on September 10, 2008 at 3:13 pm

  3. Wow… In my opinion I dont see why Barbines should not be able to continue to teach dancing. There is no nudity or an audience.
    Not only that but I have read in the past that pole dancing is a great exercise. If Barbines wants to teach this type of dance let her. Her nor her students are not hurting anybody. There are many other types of dance that people can find provacative such as, ballet. If ballet dancers can use their legs in many ways to show flexability why cant Barnies teach dance her way?

    Comment by Evelyn Gaytan on September 17, 2008 at 1:16 pm

  4. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/08/29/pole-dancing-and-the-law-1st-amendment-collides-with-zoning/

    The website above shows a Wall Street Journal article about Stephanie Babines’ case. I like this article because it proves that Stephanie Babines had no intent to create a strip club with her workout and fitness plan; she wanted to boost the confidence of women! In addition, regular workout and fitness can be very tedious, and let’s face it: not many people like to do it for this reason! Though I have never heard of or participated in an exercise program like this one, it sounds a lot more interesting then running on the treadmill for an hour each day! The fact that everyone is clothed and no men are allowed to attend further proves that Stephanie Babines simply wants to help women feel sexy and love their bodies. It may be unorthodox, but it may also help depression and low-self esteem in women.

    Comment by Stephanie James on September 21, 2008 at 6:59 pm

  5. It sounds like someone is trying to put Baby in the corner! After reading articles like this it is no wonder there are stereotypes and people poking fun at small town USA. Mr. Gary Peaco, Adams Township code enforcement officer, needs a lesson in business 101. In what way would the township be harmed by Ms. Babine’s decision to provide a cutting edge fitness business? I think incorporating dance, a form of art and expression, into fitness programs is a far cry from shimming down a pole half naked in a room full of men smoking cigars and drinking booze. As for her dances being provocative and involving sexual innuendos, couldn’t one argue that dance interpretation is in the eye of the beholder? Maybe Mr. Peaco can’t handle watching a little bit of art! Apparently Mr. Peaco has not gotten out much to understand the true meaning behind a seedy adult business, especially if all it takes to reach your decision is the color scheme and logo used on a website.

    Comment by Nicole Zollars on October 19, 2008 at 6:13 pm

  6. I thought it would be interesting to give everyone an update on this story. With the help of the Pennyslvania ACLU Stephanie Babines prevailed in her quest to receive an occupancy permit for her dance studio.

    They reached a settlement agreement on October 15, 2008. Ms. Babines basically agreed not to allow diplays of nudity, not to sell pornographic material, sex toys or novelties,no peep shows, no strip shows and no selling of alcohol on the premises.

    The website quotes Ms. Babine as saying “I’m excited and relieved that I’m able to offer classes to help women get in shape and release their inner goddess,” Good for her. I hope her business is a successful one.

    They are currently negotiating a settlement for damages. I have attached the website of the notification from the PA ACLU website.

    Comment by Toni Bellucci on November 19, 2008 at 6:29 pm

  7. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

    Comment by sandrar on September 10, 2009 at 6:39 am

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