Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield Spearmint Rhino dancers' fears over closure threat

Spearmint Rhino in Sheffield Image copyright Google
Image caption Spearmint Rhino in Brown Street has been open for 16 years

Dancers at a strip club fear for their financial security and safety if the venue has its licence taken away.

A decision on whether to renew the licence at Sheffield's Spearmint Rhino will be made next month amid claims of repeated sexual touching by dancers.

Campaigners said the alleged behaviour, secretly filmed by ex-police officers, was in breach of its licence.

Dancer Heather Watson said: "Stripping feeds families and we're all doing the best we can in the system we're in."

In April, explicit details of alleged sexual acts performed by dancers were presented to councillors by campaigners calling for the club's licence to be revoked.

Zero Option Sheffield said the former police officers, working as private investigators, witnessed dancers breaking rules by performing sex acts at the Brown Street venue during two undercover visits.

Image copyright LDRS
Image caption Dancer Rachel McCoy said the undercover filming had left them feeling "violated"

South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield Council's licensing department said they would be investigating the video before a decision on the licence renewal.

Rachel McCoy, 37, a single mother of two, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "I've had some of the most fun times, it's really transformed my world.

"I've always worked hard but really struggled financially so this is the first time in my life I've had some freedom and I can treat my kids."

She said dancers had faced a lot of online abuse, adding: "Why does anybody think they have a right to make us feel like a piece of crap just because we're happy to take our clothes off?"

Image copyright LDRS
Image caption Dancers have been protesting against calls to revoke the club's licence

Student Ms Watson, 23, said: "I completely respect their [campaigners'] intention and goal. Nobody wants women to be sexually exploited.

"But also it's really important that they listen to our voices and actually consider the real material harm that is being done to our mental health, our safety and our financial security."

Spearmint Rhino previously said it imposed strict rules at all of its establishments and was investigating to see if they had been broken.

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