PITTSBURGH (CN) – Adams Township unconstitutionally refused a permit to a woman who wants to open a “dance and fitness studio … to teach women how to pole dance, power lap dance, and strip tease – all while fully clothed,” Stephanie Babines claims in Federal Court. She says her class contains “absolutely no nudity, spectators, or sexual activity,” but is part of a “growing national exercise movement” which has spread even to China, but is unreasonably feared, and illegally proscribed, by “small-town municipal officials.”
Represented by the ACLU, Babines says she is being deprived of her livelihood because “the small-town municipal officials do not approve of the type of dance she teaches. They believe it is ‘provocative,’ full of sexual ‘innuendo,’ and too dangerous for their township.”
Au contraire, Babine says. “The instruction contains absolutely no nudity, spectators, or sexual activity. The studio is not a men’s entertainment club or strip joint, nor is it a mere front for such activity. Rather, the dance Ms. Babines hopes to teach is part of a growing national exercise movement. Chronicled in U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, Pittsburgh Magazine, and Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, pole dancing provides ‘a workout that combines aerobics, dance, yoga, (and) strength training.’ Ms. Babines has seen her dance classes help women get in shape, build self-confidence, and express their sexuality. A recent report documented how the craze has even spread to China. But while a repressive country like China allows dance studios to teach pole dancing, the defendants in this small Butler County town have misapplied their zoning code to deny Ms. Babines her right to teach this new combination of art and sport to interested adult women.
“Ms. Babines brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief to challenge the pall of orthodoxy imposed by defendants on the people in their town who wish to communicate unconventional ideas and to vindicate her free-expression rights under the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions to teach others about lawful and constitutionally protected activity.”