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Seattle Voters Oppose Ban on Lap Dancing

Seattle- Seattle voters have rejected Referendum 1, which would have imposed new restrictions on strip clubs, including a ban on lap dancing.

Tuesday evening, strippers overflowing from their lingerie and their bikinis at the Déjà Vu in downtown Seattle led men by the hand to dark booths for a dance.

It appeared as if Alex, Chloe, Hollywood and the other strippers in Seattle will be allowed to keep climbing onto customers’ laps.

Despite arguments that strip clubs bring crime to neighborhoods, a measure that would restrict them, including a ban on lap dancing, apparently had failed.

Tim Killian, who ran a campaign opposing Referendum 1, was “confident” the measure would go down to defeat.

“This is a rejection of the “nanny”-morality that some in city government have, and the voters are sending a message about what kind of city they want this to be. And that’s to be as open-minded as the rest of the country thinks we are,” Killian said.

At the Déjà Vu, though, there was little indication of the vote. It was all business, under blue and red strobe lights.

However, the minutiae of charter amendments took a back seat to the debate over lap dances. One thing the mayor and a majority on the council do agree upon — the need to keep strippers off the laps of their customers.

Seattle Citizens for Free Speech, a coalition of adult clubs, spent about $850,000 to overturn regulations the council approved last year, which would require “adult cabarets” to be well lit and forbid customers to hand tips directly to dancers.

They also would bar strippers from getting within 4 feet of patrons, effectively outlawing lap dances and, according to club representatives, make strip clubs unprofitable.

The new rules, however, were put on hold when the coalition of strip joints gathered enough signatures to put the issue to a public vote.

Meanwhile, there has been no major campaign in support of the restrictions.

But a group called the Committee for Reasonable Regulations wrote on its Web site in support of the regulations in the city’s voters’ guide, saying its members “fear retribution and for our personal safety if we speak out.”

As the returns rolled in, and classic rock and Top-40 songs blasted, dancers said they were relieved.

“At least I can still keep making money in Seattle,” one said.

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