Monday, September 28, 2009

Ga. Supreme Court sides with young strippers

Posted By on Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 11:27 PM

click to enlarge Danielle Barbee, legal heroine
  • Danielle Barbee, legal heroine

Yes, you read that right. The state Supreme Court today announced a unanimous verdict in favor of five Cheetah dancers who had challenged an Atlanta city ordinance that would've cost them their jobs because they were not yet 21.

Here's the backstory: In late 2007, the city adopted a broadly worded ordinance that would've made bars, nightclubs and strip clubs off-limits to anyone under the age of 21. You may have assumed that was already the rule, but state law allows youngsters from 18-21 to work as exotic dancers, club DJs and even bartenders — they just can't drink.

The city planned to deny an adult-entertainment license to anyone 21, a group that included 19-year-old Cheetah dancer Danielle Barbee and several of her co-workers, who were already dancing legally at the club. Their attorney, Alan Begner, was able to get a Fulton Superior Court judge to issue an injunction allowing the girls to keep dancing under the ordinances they'd already been issued, but the judge ruled against the young strippers.

In overturning the Fulton decision today, the Supremes ruled that the city cannot impose a minimum age for dancers that contravenes existing state law, Begner explains. Therefore, because Georgia allows 18-year-old strippers, Atlanta must follow suit.

I think that's logic we can all agree with.

But there's a twist! Begner says his initial reading of the Court's ruling suggests that, not only can teens work in bars and nightclubs, but they can also patronize these establishments — although, of course, they can't be served alcohol.

If this is so, it would re-open the door for 18-and-over nightclubs, a type of business outlawed by the city back in 2001.

(Cl file photo by Joeff Davis)

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