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Urban Tiger
Urban Tiger dancers and staffvia Facebook

How Bristol strippers won the right to keep their club open

Despite an intense campaign by women’s groups against the club, Urban Tiger will stay

A Bristol strip club was able to renew its licence after its dancers told councillors they were “strong, independent feminists”, working in a safe environment.  

Urban Tiger, a gentleman’s club located in Bristol City’s Centre, managed to renew its annual permit despite objections from women’s rights groups who demanded the “sexist” venue be shut down. The club’s barrister, Philip Kolvin QC, told the hearing on Wednesday January 16 that Urban Tiger was a responsible club, and that both customers and dancers observed all codes of conduct. Kolvin said: “These dancers are strong, independent women who are capable of making their own choices.”

“The dancers are an integral part of the team. They are valued and protected,” added Kolvin.

Strips clubs are legally required to renew their Sexual Entertainment Venues licences every year, to ensure the highest level of safety standards are met for workers and patrons. There were no objections from the police, and an inspection by the council’s neighbourhood enforcement team, did not raise any issues.

Urban Tiger’s 37 dancers and seven bar staff, all women, said they are ‘part of a family’.

One employee, Geri, tells Dazed: “I consider (my colleagues) to be personal friends. It feels like an extended family. I’m very grateful to have met them. They take the safety of the women who work there seriously.”

However, women’s rights groups and local residents submitted sixteen objections to the club’s permit renewal on moral grounds, complaining it reinforces a culture that normalises the objectification of women. A spokesperson for Bristol Fawcett – the UK’s ‘leading charity’ campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights – said it opposed the licence renewal because the club creates a “sexist and harmful” culture that promotes violence against women.

Some campaigners argue it is inappropriate to have strip clubs so close to residential areas where families with young children live. One objector of last year’s permit renewal said: “I am unable to avoid seeing Urban Tiger whenever I go to the city centre area. I experience this as a constant reminder of my place as a woman in our society and of Bristol's tolerance of sexism.”

Another campaigner told the committee that the performers at Urban Tiger were “regarded as little more than a collection of body parts.”

But the strippers, who see themselves as feminists, say these objections come from a small group of narrow minded “so-called feminists”, who should not punish strippers for choosing to do a job, that some consider ‘immoral’.

Dancers have come to Urban Tiger’s defence on social media. One dancer, Tuesday Laveau tweeted to Bristol Fawcett, “You’re(…) against listening to the women you’re intent on imposing your moral view on.”

The issue of safety at Urban Tiger is clearly not something equality groups can contest.

One of the lap dancers, Lauren said: “I truly feel at home within the team. I have confidence the owners will support me with any issues I have.”