CARBONDALE — The City Council on Tuesday approved a change to city code largely brought on by the opening of an adult cabaret venue near the middle of the city, but more debate on the issue will be coming soon.
By a unanimous vote, the council approved an addition to rules governing the city’s liquor license holders that more specifically details what kind of entertainment is allowed at their venues.
However, concerns that that the modification — developed largely in response to the opening of the Pony Cabaret and Steakhouse on East Main Street earlier this month — could unfairly stifle sexualized entertainment at other bars and establishments means the issue will surface again next month.
Tuesday’s action represents not so much an alteration of city code as it does a clarification of rules already governing holders of city liquor licenses. Previously, liquor licensees simply were restricted from allowing employees or patrons “to engage in any topless or bottomless act, demonstration, dance, or exhibition.”
Tuesday’s action changes that mandate slightly by adding references to definitions on “adult use” found in another part of city code dealing with businesses. Those “adult use” provisions include defining an adult cabaret as an establishment featuring topless entertainers or activities of an explicitly sexual nature. Numerous other graphic descriptions are included as well. They also lay out specific guidelines for what constitutes indecent exposure of body parts, as well as specific sexual activities.
The addition of the “adult use” definitions to the rules governing liquor licensees was aimed at creating greater consistency between two separate chapters of city code, according to the agenda item.
Councilwoman Jane Adams raised concerns that the adult use clauses regarding dancing “designed primarily to appeal to the sexual interest of the patron” could have a chilling effect on other bars and establishments in the city.
She suggested that the adult use definition be modified to reflect this potential issue.
“That’s what most dancing by young people does in dancing arenas,” Adams said. Nina Hurmis, a member of the local V2T2 Cabaret group, expressed similar concerns. She said that while her group often does routines that are sexual in nature, they are intended as satire.
“We do not want something that we’ve been doing for many years to go down because of this,” Hurmis said.
As a result of such concerns, the council approved adding the adult use definition to the law regulating liquor licensees, but agreed to return next month to consider striking two clauses from the definition of adult uses — namely in regard to dancing of a sexual nature and performances that simulate “specified sexual activities.”
The City Council is scheduled to next meet Nov. 18.