Court Rules That Lap Dances Aren't Dramatic and Artistic Enough for Tax Exemption


The New York Court of Appeals in Albany upheld a lower court ruling that lap dances are not entitled to tax exemption because they’re not, “dramatic or musical arts performances.” Not dramatic? Really? Because there isn’t a difference between “highbrow dance and lowbrow dance,” in New York state law, this case could really help to define what’s art (women dancing with clothes on) and what’s not (women dancing with no clothes on).

The 4-3 majority wrote:

If ice shows presenting pairs ice dancing performances, with intricately choreographed dance moves precisely arranged to musical compositions, were not viewed by the Legislature as ‘dance’ entitled a tax exemption, surely it was not irrational for the tax tribunal to conclude that a club presenting performances by women gyrating on a pole to music, however artistic or athletic their practiced moves are, was also not a qualifying performance entitled to exempt status.

Geniuses, women dancing on poles aren’t lap dancing. Okay, maybe it’s another kind of pole dancing, but i don’t think it’s what they’re talking about. Mistrial!

The minority said they dissented because the actual law says: “live dramatic, choreographic or musical performance,” and that choreographed performance means dancing and so, yes, the exemption should apply.

“Like the majority and the tribunal, I find this particular form of dance unedifying — indeed, I am stuffy enough to find it distasteful,” [Court of Appeals Judge Robert S.] Smith wrote in his dissent. “Perhaps, for similar reasons I do not read Hustler magazine; I would rather read the New Yorker. I would be appalled, however, if the state were to exact from Hustler a tax that the New Yorker did not have to pay, on the ground that what appears in Hustler is insufficiently ‘cultural and artistic.'”

Word up. Although I wonder if this is more about the clubs getting a break than the actual women who are doing the work? The club, Nite Moves, a juice bar (for real), was required to show that their admission fees were actually charges for their choreographed dance routines, so I’m wondering if the ladies lives are even affected by this at all? I’m no legal eagle, but if that’s the case, it’s a bummer.

It’ll most likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court now, and we’ll wait to see if they’ll shine the spotlight on the issue.

Strip-Club Fees Aren’t Tax Exempt, N.Y. Top Court Rules [Bloomberg]

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin