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Former lap dancer backs residents' campaign against nightclub

PUBLISHED: 12:04 16 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:02 07 September 2010

Robyn Rosen A FORMER lap dancer has spoken out against plans to turn a music venue in Crouch End into a dancing club as residents launch a campaign against the application. Nadine Stavonina de Montagnac, 38, has described the industry as a meat market

Robyn Rosen

A FORMER lap dancer has spoken out against plans to turn a music venue in Crouch End into a dancing club as residents launch a campaign against the application.

Nadine Stavonina de Montagnac, 38, has described the industry as a "meat market" and has urged owners of the Music Palace in Tottenham Lane to meet with residents to discuss other ways to boost business in the area.

On Thursday (March 5), approximately 100 local residents gathered at the venue to discuss their concerns about an application to turn the music venue into a gentleman's club, with opening hours from 11am to 2am from Friday to Saturday and 11am to 12pm Monday to Thursday.

Residents have threatened to demonstrate outside the venue and photograph punters if the application is approved.

The meeting was also attended by owners, Serdal Ziya and Denktas Hassan, officers from the council's licensing team and safer neighbourhood police officers, who did not oppose the application.

Residents voiced their concerns about a number of issues including the venue's close proximity to both Hornsey School for Girls, Rokesly Infant and Junior Schools and the YMCA building.

Fairfield Road resident, Alison Lilystone, said: "We don't have a problem with sex crime in this area but that will change if this happens. This is a residential area. How can I let my daughter out when there are people coming out the club extremely aroused looking for a woman?"

But licensee, Serdal Ziya, a former Hornsey School for Girls pupil, said that the application was a last resort after other attempts at increasing business had failed.

"We don't want to cause trouble and we will take people's considerations into view," she said.

"But we're just trying to earn a living. As a community, they have never wanted this place to do well and will disapprove whatever we do.

"We have tried everything and nothing we have done has succeeded in increasing business. It's not paying the rent. At the end of the day, if we shut shop, people who are working here will be unemployed."

But former lap dancer, Ms Stavonina de Montagnac, has other ideas. Having moved from Russia to England in 1990, she began lap dancing at the age of 23. She was later diagnosed with autism and believes her vulnerability led her into the industry.

After eight years of dancing on and off, Nadine settled down with her husband and two sons and is now an award-winning screenwriter and artist.

"I was never successful with men and a bit of a dork," she said. "Lap dancing taught me how to be beautiful. I wanted to be all the thing people said Western women were - beautiful and empowered.

"But we were treated very badly and made to feel like second class citizens at the bottom of the ladder.

"If someone insulted you, you had to smile and could never talk back. It was like a meat market - a factory."

Lap dancing laws are currently under review by the Government and proposals to reclassify them as "sex encounter establishments" are under discussion.

"I do think the Government should re-classify clubs to sex encounter establishments because you should just call a spade a spade," Ms Stavonina de Montagnac added.

But Kate Nicholls, secretary of the Lap Dancing Association, said that many of the residents' fears are unfounded. "There is a lot of fear of the unknown," she said.

"People have a gut reaction that they should be against it but there is research to suggest that it makes the area safer and there are far fewer problems with them than night clubs."

The licensing committee will meet at an open meeting on March 24 at 7pm at the Civic Centre, High Road, Wood Green, to decide on the application.


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