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Pa. town OKs pole-dancing studio

By The Associated Press
10.17.08

PITTSBURGH — A Pittsburgh suburb will allow a pole-dancing studio to open, ending a federal lawsuit that accused the town of violating the owner’s First Amendment rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit in August on behalf of Stephanie Babines. Officials in Adams Township had denied her an occupancy permit, arguing that the “Oh my You’re GORGEOUS” studio violated zoning rules because it was a sexually oriented business.

Babines, 30, said she has been pole-dancing for three years and teaches in several other locations. Her classes include pole-dancing, power lap dance, strip tease and “SeXXXercise.” Everyone is fully clothed during the classes.

The township and Babines reached a deal that allows her to open her studio after she agreed in writing to ban any sexually explicit activities, including the sale of pornographic materials. A judge must approve the deal.

“This has never been about nudity and sex. It’s about dance, fitness ... releasing that inner diva within us all and having a different form of exercise,” she said.

Michael Gallagher, an attorney for the township, said officials just wanted to make sure Babines’ studio would not violate the zoning ordinance. “It was misrepresented that the township was trying to be like somebody’s grandma and trying to stop Ms. Babines from teaching dance class,” Gallagher said.

Witold Walczak, ACLU legal director in Pennsylvania, said Babines has a constitutional right to teach dance, “even if local officials find the dance to be risqué or offensive.”

Monetary damages would probably be determined in an out-of court settlement, Gallagher said.


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