Time for change!
Bylaws prohibiting exotic dancing require reconsideration
Article: Dana Morenstein – Contributor
“It’s the Madonna-whore dichotomy,” says erotic performer Cherry Poppins. Poppins began her career as a burlesque dancer in Regina before venturing westward where the cash was flowing. Some might say good riddance, but many who enjoy the art of erotic performance would argue that Regina has fallen behind the times. Like many women who choose to dance and perform in what has been deemed the “erotic entertainment” industry, Poppins says she enjoys her job as an exotic dancer. She thinks that better legislation in Saskatchewan is necessary in order to make this type of work safe for those who choose to do it and that it’s a personal choice a woman should be free to make for herself.
Recently, Regina city council passed a bylaw that will effectively banish all stripping establishments to the industrial area. Women can strip but no full frontal is allowed. Prior to that, it was illegal for any sort of stripping in venues that served alcohol. The industrial area, rife with production plants and pollution from the refinery, is poorly lit and scarcely populated at night due to lack of residential homes nearby. Understandably, some dancers are leery about the idea of working there.
“Slut shaming” is a phrase that has been catching fire in the media for the past few years. Although technically an age-old practice, the term recently made the jump from grass roots movement to mainstream recognition. It’s what feminists have been saying for decades, though; a woman should exercise power and control over her own body and not be made to feel ashamed.
There are many aspects to exotic dancing that takes patience, dedication, and hard work. Just YouTube it if you’re curious. Pole dancing studios have opened up to offer workouts for women who are interested in the art.
Back home in Regina, women are performing regardless of the bylaws. Secret Entertainment, a new company offering exotic dancers, sends performers to private parties and functions. They’ve also secured a contract with a hotel in Codette where they have been performing strip shows since the beginning of the year. Secret Entertainment’s owner, Secret, says that all her dancers are friends and want to be doing their job. She laughs at the notion that they feel pressured into the industry and says prospective talent frequently contacts her looking for work. However, she’s well aware of the negative perception many have of strippers.
Even “tame” performers are feeling the effects of the city’s wrath. Anna Scott, part owner of Regina’s Bottoms up Burlesque Club, agrees that the recent bylaw is a way to shame dancers to the fringes of society. She’s disappointed and thinks it’s a result of ignorance concerning the burlesque style of dance. Burlesque is a style of dance that at its core has deep cultural roots, empowerment, and celebration of all body shapes. Dancers are not typically paid to perform nor do they get naked. Essentially, it’s a group of friends who enjoy dancing and just want to make their shows enjoyable for more people. If that means being able to have a couple drinks and unwind after a long week, Scott feels the audience should be allowed.