Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Lap-dance boss hits out at city club critics

Politicians 'trying to win votes in next elections'

THE owner of the controversial Movie Star Cafe has hit back at criticism from politicians over eastern European dancers who worked at the club.

Three of the girls were deported for overstaying their work permits after Immigration Service officials raided houses in south Belfast in a pre-Christmas crackdown.

The Immigration Service believes there may be more of the girls still in the province.

Club proprietor Kevin Bryson denied the claim.

"We don't have any dancers from eastern Europe now and although they were highly professional and popular with my clientele, I have replaced them with local girls and a few from England," said the south Derry man, who opened the Botanic Avenue hotspot last July in the face of some very public hostility, with demonstrations on the pavement outside.

"At the start I brought in dancers from Latvia, Estonia and Hungary because it was difficult to get locals who were brave enough to become pole dancers in a small and somewhat puritanical city like Belfast."

"But a few girls from here did eventually come in and learned their art from the more experienced continentals."

When the Movie Star Cafe opened last summer, work permits were issued by the Department of Employment — but the responsibility transferred to the Home Office in September.

The Department defended their decision to grant the 17 work permits, claiming it had followed government guidelines which said the girls had to possess skills which were unavailable in the UK or EU.

"Absolutely right," said Mr Bryson. "These girls were streets ahead in style and technique."

Now he claims the locals have learned fast and he is more than happy with his present team.

"In fact I am getting a few Northern Ireland pole dancers who have come back home after dancing abroad and they're really good."

He also said despite all the adverse reaction to Belfast's first lap dancing club, the Movie Star Cafe was holding its own and had had 'a good Christmas'.

"It is popular for groups of people who want something different on their night out.

"And it's not attracting men only.

"The reason politicians attack us is just to win votes with the possibility of May elections coming up."

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Created: January 21, 2003
Last modified: January 21, 2003
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