Pole Dancing Isn’t Art, Rules New York Court

An Albany Court of Appeals ruled that a local gentlemen's club can't declare itself exempt from sales tax on artistic grounds.

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Strippers may have spent years honing their lap dances, but that doesn’t make it art, a New York court ruled Tuesday.

The decision came down after an Albany-area gentlemen’s club called  Nite Moves applied for tax breaks traditionally granted to classical music performances and the ballet. In a 4-3 decision, however, the Albany Court of Appeals ruled that exotic dancing does not qualify as “dramatic or musical arts performances” — meaning Nite Moves can’t wriggle out of the $400,000 in unpaid sales tax it owes.

“Surely it was not irrational [for the state] to conclude that a club presenting performances by women gyrating on a pole to music, however artistic or athletic their practiced moves are, was also not a qualifying performance,” wrote the justices in the majority decision, according to the New York Daily News.

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Two male judges and one female judge disagreed, however, finding that the court had overstepped its bounds. “I would be appalled,” wrote Judge Robert Smith in a dissenting opinion, “If the state were to exact from Hustler a tax that The New Yorker did not have to pay on the ground that what appears in Hustler is insufficiently ‘cultural or artistic.’”

The New York strip club industry was reportedly disheartened by in the news. “For them to make the interpretation that exotic dance does not have the same artistic value or expression as other forms of dance is absolutely incorrect,” Jeff Levy, executive director of the Association of Club Executives of New York told the Daily News. “I have never seen anybody fall asleep watching an exotic dance but I have seen people fall asleep at the ballet.”

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