Burlesque dancers banned from trendy Camden venues

PUBLISHED: 11:49 27 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:08 07 September 2010

"The Knickerbocker Glories" Burlesque troop the Knickerbocker Glories are one of several troops banned from Camden who claim that burlesque is too raunchy. Miss Ruby Woo,Cherry Bomb & Bettie Bottom Dollar

© Nigel Sutton 17 Redington Rd,London,NW37QX. Phone 020 7794 3008. email

Katie Davies PRUDISH Camden Council has been blasted as Orwellian after banning burlesque dancers taking to the borough's stages. This month, performances planned by burlesque troupes in venues including Camden Proud and The Dublin Castle, have been st

Katie Davies

PRUDISH Camden Council has been blasted as "Orwellian" after banning burlesque dancers taking to the borough's stages.

This month, performances planned by burlesque troupes in venues including Camden Proud and The Dublin Castle, have been stopped because the council says a special nudity licence is needed - despite the fact the shows contained no nudity.

Vicky Butterfly and The Knickerbocker Glories, two acts who have been blocked from taking to the stage, say the rules show a bias against burlesque by licensing bosses who are stuck in the Dark Ages.

Ms Butterfly, 25, a full-time burlesque performer, says the ban is destroying her career.

She was forced to give up a show that has been running at Proud for two years, because of this month's sudden crackdown by the licensing team.

"I haven't come across this anywhere other than Camden," she told the Ham&High. "Due to the nature of the performance, a performer would never be undressed to a level that would be considered nude anyway.

"The council took the view that any removal of clothing to any degree, they considered to be adult in nature, suited to a sex encounter establishment. I am a trained performance artist, and none of my work can be considered sexual in theme, execution or intention.

"I was being censored in a way that a production of Guys and Dolls wouldn't be.

"So, I am free to run about at a swimming pool in a bikini in front of children, but not appear at an art gallery undressed to the same degree in front of an audience of adults who have paid to see the show."

Kristy MacLeod, aka Cherry Bomb, lead singer of The Knickerbocker Glories said: "The London burlesque scene is awash with incredibly talented performers who bring real innovation to their work.

"It seems absolutely ludicrous that in an area which has such a proud history of supporting the arts that burlesque performers are being denied a platform to showcase their talents.

"I find it hard to believe that anyone who chooses to go to a burlesque show is likely to be offended by a nipple tassel or two."

The Glories were due to perform at Proud on April 6 but were forced to move their concert outside the borough because of the ban.

The Dublin Castle recently cancelled burlesque performances as part of a cabaret show because of licensing laws.

However, rather than being consistent in their approach it seems the council has allowed some venues to host burlesque events.

Alex Proud, owner of Proud Camden, said the situation is frustrating for small venue owners as well as performers.

"The situation is absurd and Orwellian," he said. "I was told that dancers were allowed to be on stage in their end outfits in nipple tassels and underwear, but they weren't allowed to get their by taking off their clothes off.

"This is what comes from people who've got too much time on their hands.

"There are many more significant problems in Camden than burlesque dancers."

A Camden Council spokeswoman said: "Camden's licensing policy, states that any premises in the borough that wish to offer entertainment involving nudity, striptease or other entertainment of an adult nature will need approval from the licensing authority - burlesque falls within this criteria.

"The licensing authority and the police have concerns about crime and disorder and public nuisance issues that can arise from the operation of premises where these activities are carried on.

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