Seattle to vote on repeal of rules that could kill dancers' business


The new strict rules target the lap dance.
SEATTLE TIMES
SEATTLE -- Eight-hour days, five days a week, and the flexibility to stay home if one of her children is sick.
It's better than selling insurance over the phone, or working as an assistant in a nursing home. In those jobs, she worked 12-hour shifts, sometimes six days a week.
But dancing in Seattle's strip clubs, Jessica is an independent contractor. She chooses her hours. She can take a day off whenever she wants.
"I have the freedom to do that without getting in trouble," said Jessica, a 25-year-old single mother.
Next month, Seattle voters will decide whether to repeal strict new rules that could kill a dancer's business. An ordinance approved by the city council last year targeted the lap dance -- the staple of any dancer's income -- by requiring performers to stay 4 feet away from customers, banning direct tipping and forcing clubs to turn up the lights.
Moratorium illegal
Mayor Greg Nickels proposed the rules after a judge declared a city moratorium on strip clubs illegal. The goal of the ordinance, which has not yet taken effect, is to discourage new clubs. Police say it also will ensure that dancers and customers at the city's four strip clubs are following current laws against lewd behavior.
For their part, club owners have spent nearly $1 million on the Referendum 1 campaign to overturn the ordinance, arguing the rules are both intrusive and impractical. Dancers are conspicuously absent from the lawn signs and television ads.

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