Outrage over strip club

  4 February 2010

Talk of the Town, Cambridge’s strip club, has faced criticism recently after it was revealed that it has been advertising on a busy school route for three weeks.

Located on Napier Street, close to the Grafton Centre, the club brands itself as an exclusive pole dancing and lap dancing venue and “the hottest thing to hit the town in years”. However, parents were furious when the company placed an advertising trailer in a lay-by on Barnwell Road.

The route is frequently used by pupils at Abbey Meadows Primary and St Philips Church of England Primary School.

In an interview with The Cambridge News, Cllr Margaret Wright expressed her annoyance at the situation. “It is surely wrong to leave these large stationary ads for a pole dancing club in situ for weeks on end.

“If they are not against the rules, surely it is breaking the spirit of the advertising legislation.”

Trailers are currently not permitted to be parked in a way that would cause unnecessary obstruction, but parking in a lay-by and advertising in such a way is legally ambiguous.

Ray Filar, president of the Cambridge Feminist Society, expressed concern at the fact that the discussion was only over the location of Talk of the Town’s advertising: “This is highly problematic given the sex industry’s links to rape, trafficking and abuse.

“To accept the Talk of the Town’s promotional campaign in any part of Cambridge, whether on a school route or outside our colleges, is to implicitly accept these human rights abuses as normal and tolerable. Quite clearly, they are not.”

Tom Williamson, a Land Economy student disagreed with this criticism of Talk of the Town, commenting, “It’s simply a case of supply and demand as every Land Economist knows.

“The club is a thriving local business operating in a manner that provides so many positive externalities”.

The proprietor, Mr John Barrett insisted that advertising on the route was not intentional: “The trailer had a broken axle and also one of the wheels had disintegrated.

“No suitable vehicle could move it quick enough and the weather didn’t help”.

Mr Barrett also described his future plans for Talk of the Town saying “we are due to open, in a week or so, a coffee shop, alongside computer repairs, web design to sound system service to include sound system hire and repairs.”

Currently the Club advertises a fully licensed bar seating up to seventy, six VIP booths, a VIP dungeon room and private dance areas.

Talk of the Town has prompted criticism for its advertising strategies before, as reported in TCS last term, when vouchers for the strip club appeared in voucher booklets being given away outside the 2009 Freshers’ Fair. The vouchers were included in The Student Discount Book, which offered reduced cost entry to a number of venues around Cambridge, including Fez, The Place and Vodka Revolutions.

However, the inclusion of the strip club vouchers caused controversy and was criticised by the Cambridge Feminist Society and called “”a manifestation of the wider problem of sexual exploitation and objectification of women” by Natalie Szarek, the CUSU Women’s Officer.

Parin Shah – News Reporter

Photo: Jess Touschek – TCS News